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Are you really a Christian Hipster?

The recent Christian hipster like/don’t like list seems to hit close to home for many of us, especially me. However, to my mind the list may be a bit flawed in that it pretty much includes any Christian under 35 who isn’t a party line conservative evangelical. Not being a standard evangelical should hardly relegate you to the status of Christian hipster. And there’s a few things that are noticeably left out, which are, too my mind pretty quintessential to the definition of Christian hipsterhood.

One of these is dress. How one dresses is perhaps the most fundamental feature of being a Christian hipster. The author makes reference to “dressing a little goth”, but this is just innacurate. Christian hipsters in particualr belie this description. The order of the day is tight, expensive jeans, huge and odd sunglasses, non-perscprition eyeglasses, discheveled hair, a variety of sweaters and tight t-shirts, all that hopefully give the appearance of originating from a thrift store.

Also, I would hope that anyone who would love Hauerwas and Willimon’s Resident Aliens would completely hate God’s Politics, which is an utter peice of old-school theological liberal sentimentality combined with politically progressive rhtetoric. And I’ve never ever met a Christian hipster who’s a fan of Teilhard de Chardin. Reading someone like that is just too much work for a Christian hipster. To be a Christian hipster you kind of have to have read Blue Like Jazz and pretty much nothing else, and think that this one book by Don Miller encapsulates the truth of your Christian existence.

So at any rate, I can’t help but wonder if this list really shows us, not what Christian hipsters look like, but what nearly all young non-conservative evangelicals look like. Which isn’t to say it isn’t still a somewhat arresting list, just that it is really about a much wider group than it purports to be.

12 Comments

  1. errol wrote:

    “However, to my mind the list may be a bit flawed in that it pretty much includes any Christian under 35 who isn’t a party line conservative evangelical.”

    I don’t know much about the guy who came up with the list, but I wonder if he doesn’t derive some satisfaction in satirizing people who don’t fit into his normative evangelical mold. This is just from perusing the links on his blog (John Piper, Justin Taylor, etc.)The guy who came up with “Stuff White People Like” critiqued his culture from within, in a self-deprecatingly humorous way. This seems to be written in a different tenor — perhaps out of some ideological interest. At least McCracken admits that he’s hoping to spark a theological discussion.

    http://stillsearching.wordpress.com/2009/03/05/why-i-am-writing-this-book/

    I’m just not sure why reading Brueggemann, Hauerwas, and Yoder is “hip.” There seems to be some sort of norm that he has in mind that Christian hipsters are deviating from. Does he just mean Christians who aren’t neo-reformed evangelicals?

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 10:52 am | Permalink
  2. Halden wrote:

    That’s kinda what it looks like to me.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 10:54 am | Permalink
  3. dave wrote:

    This is a good corrective, Halden. When I first glanced at what “makes” Christian hipsters a few days ago, several of the things on the list, especially certain authors, left me scratching my head.

    I think it might be fair to say that a Christian hipster might have read Resident Aliens or some other book, and then likes to say they’ve been influenced by Yoder, Hauerwas, etc. But this isn’t actually reading and engaging with these thinkers on any more than a Kierkegaardian aesthetic sphere level. I wouldn’t say it’s the same thing as those who have actually read certain authors, but rather something closer to a consumer-capitalist tinged commodification of ______ author.

    A few years ago when I was younger and reading Resident Aliens and becoming aware of the wider world of theological scholarship, I would admit to being something of a theological hipster, but I hope to a certain extent that continuing to read and dig deeper has relinquished this label from me.

    I suppose what I am saying is that this “Christian hipster” talk might be a helpful corrective for someone who is only name-dropping or skimming some of the authors listed. Certainly there are some things in the criteria which fit, but I cannot take someone seriously who tries to say that someone who reads Teilhard de Chardin is a Christian hipster.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 11:32 am | Permalink
  4. Hill wrote:

    I like Teilhard de Chardin. The only thing I take that to be confirmation of is that I’m weird.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink
  5. Nate wrote:

    The only thing to do at this point, Halden, is to make your own “You Might Be a Mars Hillster” list and separate the post-Libs from the Drisco-maniacs.

    Post!

    Post!

    Post!

    Post!

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  6. Brad E. wrote:

    I appreciate the helpful corrective to the hipster list. My only question/comment: In general, you seem to speak in hugely black and white categories — “love” and “hate,” “Christian” and “not,” etc. Obviously, Hauerwas/Willimon do not equate to Wallis — but must someone who appreciates or in some sense agrees with Hauerwas “completely hate God’s Politics, which is an utter peice of old-school theological liberal sentimentality combined with politically progressive rhtetoric”?

    I don’t fall in line with Wallis, but I was appreciative of another voice entering the popular theopolitical conversation. Hailing from central Texas, I was able to suggest God’s Politics for “alternative” reading for highly committed, mostly one-track-reading conservative Christian friends. It was a helpful conversation starter. In that vein I have no interest in them (or my) “hating” Wallis’ book or views; it seems to me there are positives and negatives, even if on the whole I wouldn’t align myself with him. And, finally, his life on its own is a witness to what it means to embody one’s commitment to the wholesale call of the gospel. More than anything, for that I have to offer him more respect than “hating” his book.

    Does that make sense? If that sounds more sharp rhetorically, I don’t mean it so; only as a question about the kind of language we use in-house about fellow Christians whose views we disagree with. Thanks, as always, for your wonderful posts and continued work.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  7. R.O. Flyer wrote:

    Of course, there really is no use attempting to evade the label “Christian hipster” as doing so simply reinforces the whole notion. You simply can’t escape capitalism’s power to construct, shape, and sell identities. If a church full of hipsters means a church that is unwilling to go to war, then I take that to be at least a step in the right direction.

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 3:43 pm | Permalink
  8. Arni wrote:

    “And I’ve never ever met a Christian hipster who’s a fan of Teilhard de Chardin.”

    Hey, I’m Arni. Nice to meet you! :)

    Saturday, March 7, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  9. Bryce wrote:

    “To be a Christian hipster you kind of have to have read Blue Like Jazz and pretty much nothing else, and think that this one book by Don Miller encapsulates the truth of your Christian existence.”

    Your post seems to be less of a corrective and more of a displacement. For one, you don’t refute the Christian Hipster category, you just make sure that you don’t fit in it. This move strikes me as indicative of the kind of “coolness” the author was trying to describe by creating his list. Instead of definition as against or apart from the 700 club etc., you have drawn your definition as apart or against people who read Blue Like Jazz. As R.O. Flyer points out, “there is no use attempting to evade the label”, and I would add that your attempt to evade fruitlessly reinforces the label.

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink
  10. Halden wrote:

    The difference is, my observations are accurate. : )

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 11:53 am | Permalink
  11. You guys worry about weird things.

    Monday, March 9, 2009 at 5:58 pm | Permalink
  12. Alex wrote:

    I’m with Anthony. Just laugh that someone made a good observation of a certain type of person and move on.

    Tuesday, March 10, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

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