Recently someone shared his thoughts with me about Stuff Christians Like:
“stuff white people like is much better than this lame blog. its really sad that tongue in cheek christian schtick even rips clever pop culture. Clander (the author of the book Stuff White People Like) got a book deal because his stuff is original. but, you’ll probably get one because his stuff is original too. i’m sure you’re a nice guy and i hope you do well. but seriously, create don’t ape.”
There are a number of things I’d like to dissect in that comment but to do so would just perpetuate the cycle of “Christian on Christian Web Violence.” But there is one thing I can’t let slide, if only because I am guilty of it too. I am referring of course to the second to last sentence in that comment, “I’m sure you’re a nice guy and I hope you do well.”
That is such a great example of the “bless her heart syndrome” (BHHS) that I can’t leave it alone. For those that didn’t read the original post, BHHS is when you verbally slam, gossip or attack someone else and then try to save face by throwing in a comment like “bless her heart.” In the south I’ve heard it called “giving someone a piece of vinegar pie.”
The fake kindness in comments like that is easy to point out, but the reality is that sometimes other Christians are better at disguising it. Sometimes people, including me, will be a little more subtle at executing Bless Her Heart Syndrome. Here are four other variations you need to watch out for:
1. “I don’t mean to be ugly”
Sure you do and you know you’re about to be ugly or else you wouldn’t have thrown out that disclaimer at the start of the sentence. Often, if you have to explain why something you’re about to say is not hateful, you’re about to say something hateful.
2. “In Christian Love”
Most of the time people do the BHHS behind your back. But sometimes, they’ll drop some BHHS right in your lap. For instance, if anyone says, “I hope you can receive this in Christian love,” get ready to be hated on. Seriously, no one ever says, “I hope you can receive this in Christian love, but you’re doing a really good job leading that ministry” or “I find the dresses you wear to church to be both appropriate and awesome.” It’s usually an insult thinly veiled as advice or love. Not always, but usually.
3. “God laid this on my heart”
Oh snap, you just threw God under the bus. (I find myself saying “Oh snap” a lot lately, perhaps as a tribute to Biz Markie?) You just prefaced something mean you’re about to say about somebody by blaming it on God. And although I do think that sometimes God gives us messages for other people, I have a hard time believing He ever asks us to gossip about other people, “I need you to be a jerk for me. I need you to be my rod of punkitude. I need you to be my vessel of gossip.”
4. “I’m just concerned”
This is the one I am most guilty of. Sometimes in order to look smart or wise, I’ll gossip about someone else’s problems, give my insightful solution and then try to gift wrap the whole gossipy mess with the phrase, “I’m just concerned.” But the truth is I’m not concerned about the person I’m talking about. If I was, I would be talking with them, not about them. There’s a huge difference between those two words.
I think there are probably a million other variations of the BHHS. But please tell me that if we’re ever in a conversation and I tell you that “I am concerned about this other blogger…” please immediately respond, “No you’re not, you’re just jealous and now you’re trying to disguise that jealousy in nice words that make you look smart and kind.” And then give me a handful of Good n’ Plenty candy. Those are disgusting. You think they’re going to be delicious like Good n’ Fruity, but they’re not. They’re just sad little pieces of licorice wearing a candy coat shell that tastes like pepto bismol. It’s the only way I’ll learn.
Have you ever experienced Bless Her Heart Syndrome?
What’s your favorite version?