How Do You Spell Christian? N-I-C-E

There aren’t many accurate portrayals of Christians on TV, but I think that Shirley on “Community” is one of them. How do you describe Shirley in one word? She’s nice.


Shirley is a single mom who is going to community college to jumpstart her brownie business. The other characters like her. They occasionally find her niceness annoying, but Shirley is their friend. She has no evil secrets, other than a tendency to express love through baking. She is often heard saying, “Oh, that’s nice!”


Since I only occasionally watch “Community,” I looked her up on—what else—Wikipedia. It included this tidbit: “is very sweet but also has thinly veiled rage issues and gossips compulsively.”


Shirley is also a bit smug, as the only Christian in the study group. And, like a lot of Christian women I know, Shirley can be judgmental of the other members of the study group who are still growing up.


Most Christian women I know (especially down here in Texas) are nice. They believe in Jesus. They go to church. Many of them are sweet, with repressed rage. Most of them love to gossip. Quite a few are smug and judgmental.


I have been all of those things myself.


In one of my favorite “Community” episodes, called “Remedial Chaos Theory,” six different timelines are created during a game of Yahtzee. We see what happens when each character is removed from the group. When Shirley is removed (to let in the pizza guy), the result is a “nervous bake-down” when her pies burn, but other than that, um, nothing happens. If she’s gone, everything else remains the same.


I don’t want my absence to mean that nothing in anyone’s life changes. There needs to be a … a something. As a Christian, I want to leave more than a legacy of nice.