>Questions of Christian Hipsterism Part I

Posted: 29/09/2010 in brett mccracken, Christianity Today, erwin mcmanus, Mark Driscoll, mosiac, shane clairborne

>Initially I wanted to write a blog about my reactions to the world of Christian Hipsterism. Of course, I have already gone down that bit of self-indulgence in a previous blog. While a blog is always at least a little bit self-indulgent, I’d rather spare my readers more boring stuff about me.

Instead, it would be better if I asked all of you for your thoughts on Christian Hipsterism. Part of being a Christian Hipster means that you were a “Cradle Evangelical,” which I never really was. For those of you who enjoy reading you can check out the Brett McCraken’s article at Christianity Today because it is pretty cool.

The article opens up with a fair description of what a Christian Hipster is. A Christian hipster is someone who was raised Evangelical from youth, desires to continue being a Christian, but wants to disassociate from the culture of Evangelicalism (including “Churchianity” if I may use the Internet Monk’s term). So if you were raised in this culture you are familiar with flannel graph Sunday school lessons, the obsession with left behindist end-times, republican-party Christianity, and people like Falwell, Pat Robertson, and the other crazy uncles of the Billy Graham generation. You were taught well “do not smoke drink or chew, or go with girls/guys who do.”

The Christian hipster either remembers these things as something happily outgrown or denounces them with strong anathemas. Chrisitan Hipsterism can then be defined negatively. By what it is not.

Positively defined, Christian Hipsterism is probably someone meeting at Mosiac West LA –a church I happily sojourned at for two years. A church like this embraces all the good things about the arts and entertainment. It assumes –even expects- that part of Christianity is an interest in creativity. It seeks to encourage Christians and even non Christians to deeply explore their talents and potential in music, dance, writing, visual arts and so on. This is not a crass form of evangelism. The arts are not meant to be advertisements for Jesus, but are rather a natural part of the Christian life.

Another token of Christian Hipsterism is a casual willingness to discuss the sex from the pulpit. Driscoll, (“the angry one”), delivered a podcast on the Song of Solomon. McCracken cited this sermon as token Christian hipsterism. The sermon, “the Dance of Mahanaim,” paints a picture of good sex, in which both the man and the women fulfill certain roles based on their partner’s psychological disposition and biology. I listened to this sermon myself. Even here Driscoll still had to apologize to his audience that the Bible contained sex. Nonetheless, it was an upfront discussion of a normally taboo subject.

A third pillar of Christian Hipsterism is an emphasis on concept of Social Justice. This is quite a nebulous concept, but it reflects a strong theological trend that wants to broaden the notion of the Gospel. The Gospel is not “go to heaven when you die when you accept Jesus.” The Gospel is not are mere acceptance of “salvation by grace alone.” The Gospel contains all these and so much more. The Gospel, as championed by Shane Clairborne, frees slaves, liberates the oppressed, and living a life of simplicity in face of consumerism. If the Kingdom of God is at hand, then the people of God will live according to new kind of life that resists and overturns systematic injustice in the world. Interestingly enough, this has a eschatological component, but that will be addressed another time.

There is also an interest, among the Christian hipsters, of recovering liturgy. This will also be another blog.

So, with no loss of irony, are you a Christian hipster? Are you not quite a Christian hipster? Are you to cool to be called a Christian hipster?

You might want to comment on the blog and re-post it.

  1. Heidi says:

    >I am definitely not a Christian Hipster. While I feel a little more enlightened about it, I still kind of feel my skin crawl every time people are categorized.

  2. >Hey, I NEVER outgrew flannel graphs. And maybe I enjoy my Presbyterian church in Hollywood…but I'm not entirely a hipster…Anyway, hipsters don't like to be categorized. 😉

  3. Jin-roh says:

    >Amy = non hipsterHeidi = to cool to be hipster.

  4. James says:

    >I am not sure if I fit your criterion for a christian hipster. On the one hand, I do not "wants to disassociate from the culture of Evangelicalism" To the contrary. If anything, I feel called to transform this culture and bring the idea that the gospel is salvation plus freeing slaves and liberating the oppressed. I feel that having gained enlightenment and have "happily outgrown" the flannel-graph-left-behindist-end-times-republican-fallwell-robertson christianity that is my duty and calling to hold my brothers accountable for the form of christianity that they have perpetuated and help them to see that the full gospel involves overcoming the systematic injustice in the world. I owe it to God and I owe it to the people who raised me and were a part of my journey to wholeness in christ through the full gospel (including social justice) to help them find this wholeness in their lives.Furthermore, I also do not believe that part of Christianity is an interest in creativity. I would stay that instead, creativity is a part of our human nature and the fabric of our very being. I also am not the artsy type. I find that I express my creativity through ordering things. Computers, thoughts (theological and otherwise) and whatever else I find to be disorderly or incorrect (maybe that is why I am sometimes perceived as argumentative for the sake of arguing or "always want to be right…")So in this respect, No. I am not a christian hipster.On the other hand, while I do not seek to disassociate myself from it, I do choose to believe that my roots are something that I have happily outgrown and they are something that I do denounce. I also believe that discussing sex from the pulpet is healthy. It is something that we all struggle with and something that causes us all to sin is some way or another. Shoving it under the rug when the Bible so freely and graphically discusses helps no one.Finally, I fully embrace the concept (however nebulous) of social justice and think that christianity without it is simply selfishness masquerading as enlightenment. Without it, our faith is just religion.So in this respect, I am and will gladly proclaim that I AM a hipster.Ultimately, what does that make me?Also, would you define yourself as a christian hipster?

  5. Anonymous says:

    >Hey, I just found your blog, and I have to say, it is such a relief to read stuff written by a Christian who actually uses the brain God's given them. Praise the Lord! ;)On Christian Hipsterism, by that definition I suppose I'm a 'hipster'. (Although, I also think definitions are part of what divide Christians so much- you're only a 'real Christian' if you've been baptised, can speak in tongues, yadayada…)In my not-so-humble-opinion, I believe Point Number Three should characterize ALL facets of Christianity. "Love God, and love other people" is what it comes down to.

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