Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

Thursday, March 5, AD 2009

This has already been making the rounds, but the weekend is almost here, and I thought it would be an opportunity to focus more on the culture part of AC. Per Brett McCracken, here is a partial list of the common traits of Christian hipsters:

Things they don’t like:
Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

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4 Responses to Christian Hipsters: A Tool For Self-Diagnosis

  • Well, having looking through the criteria, I’m definitely not a hipster, though I share some of the likes a dislikes. For example, I don’t like megachurches, but I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word. I do like Mel Gibson, and I think the bloodier I picture the Passion, the better. Christ suffered the weight of every single sin of mankind. That extent of suffering is absolutely mind-boggling. I love the Pope, the liturgy, and Lent. Incense is not so much a concern (because my wife reacts violently to it), and I feel incredibly awkward with the timeless phrases.

    The worrisome thing is that a hipster likes what is hip. That might be good for the moment, if the perspective if that there is something “hip” about Christianity, but on the other hand, if that perspective ever changes, will these hipsters dump Christianity as yesterday’s fad? Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself? (Well, these questions aren’t limited to the hipsters. I ask these of myself continually.)

    Anyway, I don’t know much about it, myself. I’ll simply try to reserve any judgment, because the temptation is always to ask, “Are they genuine?” And that does them a great disservice.

  • I am increasingly in favor of door-to-door evangelism. I think Catholics might consider doing a little more visible activity like that. I think our laity (though it might just be me) are pretty lazy about spreading the Word….Moreover, is their interest in Christianity a matter of status, of being in a particular crowd, rather than in Christianity itself?

    I agree, and you’ve highlighted one of the reasons I found the list somewhat puzzling. On the one hand, the term ‘Christian hipster’ seems to denote an interest in aesthetics and artistic integrity. For example, old Cathedrals really are beautiful; Chesterton, Lewis, O’Connor, etc. are phenomenal writers and thinkers; CCM is generally bad because it is a contrived imitation of popular music.

    On the other hand, it seems to denote a sort of guarded and deliberate detachment from committing oneself entirely to Christ. For example, door-to-door evangelization is out (we wouldn’t want to feel uncomfortable!); as are altar calls (a public commitment to Christ). And, while there are plenty of reasons to dislike Jerry Falwell, the 700 club etc., the fact that hipsters like the equally political Jim Wallis suggests it is the zeitgeist rather than a dislike of the mixture of faith and politics that may be motivating their behavior. Either way, it’s an interesting list.

  • I interviewed with Brett McCracken on video about his views on Christian Hipsters:
    http://www.conversantlife.com/life-with-god/interview-with-brett-mccracken

  • I generally fit into much of this list’s criteria, but I hardly think “hipster” is the right term. Not being into Christian music and manufactured pop-Christian culture, and preferring some intellectual rigor does not a hipster make. But it’s still a generally good thing, I suppose….