The Uncomfortable Christians of Brooklyn

The Atlantic has an article on St. Lydia’s church of Brooklyn, and it’s shy congregants:

…it can be a struggle to be publicly Christian in Brooklyn. She’s talking about a specific class of the neighborhood, of course—historically, the borough has had vibrant Jewish and Catholic communities, and still does today….But in today’s young, progressive, creative-class circles, “all of those cultural connotations of what a Christian is … are totally negative,” Scott said. “I’ve definitely heard that they find themselves censoring themselves when they talk with friends about going to church. … For some of them, posting about St. Lydia’s on Facebook for the first time was like a really big deal.”

There’s an element of self-hatred in this. “I’ll say, ‘I’m a pastor, but my church isn’t weird. I’m not from a scary church.’” It’s a joke, but it’s also a tacit acceptance of certain stereotypes about American Christians, most of which are probably unfair. The worry among congregants, she said, “is that people will think I’m conservative, people will think I hate gay people, people will think that I’m judging them, people will think I’m better than them.”

I understand being tentative when you live in a bubble where people swallow every negative stereotype that they’re fed about your faith. But it sounds like the pastor has bought into a lot of the negative stereotypes herself. Saying “I’m not from a scary church” is tacitly agreeing that there are scary churches (maybe because they’re full of icky conservatives!) and distancing yourself from them.

At the same time, she describes her own church like this:

“We are a space that is very sincere, and we’re not snarky, and nobody is playing like a too-cool-for-school competition,” Scott said. “That’s kind of a huge reality of a younger person in a place like Brooklyn. There is a kind of game people play about who measures up and how. … It can be a painful experience, trying to navigate that sort of world.”

“I don’t think that’s our main goal as Christians, to be comfortable all the time.”

Nope, not interested in being cool or comfortable, but terrified someone might think you’re from a conservative church. That sounds about right.

One comment

  1. amy

    You clearly didn’t read the article or you’re deliberately showing these sentences without the context of the rest of the paragraph. He was saying that when Christians say “I’m not from a scary church”, that they feed into stereotypes. If you’re going to make judgments on people at least make sure your audience has correct information.

Leave a Reply