The abbreviation “Xtian” for “Christian” is second only to shortening “yeah” to “yh” in my Ten Best Ways to Express Laziness.  Is it really so hard to type those four extra letters?  Or to find a short version that makes some phonetic sense?

Because it irritates me, I decided to do some digging into the history of Xtianity (which, for someone who actually knows how to type, is much more annoying than Christianity, which uses fairly common letters).  Unfortunately, some of what I learned undermined some of my reasons for disliking the term.

Why I dislike the term Xtian:

  • As I said right off, it’s lazy.  It’s shorter to write by hand or if you look at the keys, but with touch screens not looking is a dying art.  However, if it’s lazy, it’s a laziness that dates back a hundred years or more.
  • It’s also not phonetic.  Nothing about the English pronunciations of “Chris” and “X” is similar.  However, to the learned of a bygone generation, Greek letters were nearly as familiar as English, so the nifty diagram provided here wasn’t needed.  There may not have been a phonetic connection, but there was a common understanding nevertheless.
  • It’s disrespectful.  Well, that was not the original intent of the term, but today’s views are mixed.  Some wear it like a badge of honor, but further definitions down that same page suggest it refers to Christians in name only, or that it is, indeed, derogatory . . . but that’s not the most common definition by far.
  • It’s divisive, because it’s used by those of us outside the religion to refer to its followers, in something of a dismissive manner.  Except for those self-described Xtians, of course.
So the term is older than I expected, is used by knowledgeable Christians, and isn’t actually considered insulting by most.  But I’m stubborn, and I still think it’s lazy, so don’t expect me to start using it anytime soon.  I was the last person I know to start shortening “cellular phone” to “cell phone,” and I only started typing “lol” five years ago.

This post is part of the Pagan Blog Project, a yearlong exploration of spirituality.  This specific post is brought to you by the letter X.

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