Review Thursday: Ailene’s Take on Hipster Christianity

Posted: August 4, 2011 in Review Thursday
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If you don’t know what hipster means, urbandictionary.com defines it as “a subculture of men and women typically in their 20’s and 30’s that value independent thinking, counter-culture, progressive politics, an appreciation of art and indie-rock, creativity, intelligence, and witty banter”.

Hipster Christianity (Where Church and Cool Collide) by Brett McCracken seeks to explore the phenomenon of “cool Christianity” in the 21st Century

Ailene of The Edge Media, being a self-confessed Christian hipster, shared with us her initial thoughts on the book and what it means to be part of that demographic. You can also read a lot of her other posts on her blog simply entitled Walks. Thank you Ailene, for sharing this with us 🙂

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I was wincing while I read the first three chapters of Brett Mccracken’sHipster Christianity.

I confess: I TOTALLY fall into the category. There I was, reading a book on Hipster Christianity in the MRT, and I was in a thrift-shop dress (that looked like the print is floral, but is actually all skulls), a pair of white Bossinis from Hong Kong, I have a tattoo (in Greek! A phrase from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans! How hipster Christian can I possibly get!), about three inches thick of faux pearls on one wrist, a belly piercing, and I work for a non-profit that called itself a “media missions group” that puts up Christian FM stations in the Philippines. I go to work in Chucks, cut-offs, and tank tops, and my boss? He used to run the only Filipino rock station in the nation back in the days.

Hipster Christianity? Dude, Brett Mccracken is totally writing about me. And my friends. And my entire family (both biological and spiritual). And my church.

“Things,” he said. That’s what he said. “Hip is about image. It is informed by ideas – philosophies, politics, religions – but its dominant expression is always in the material realm: dress, hygiene, artwork, furniture, cars, things.” (P.48 of Hipster Christianity.) And that’s how you know he or she is a hipster, because there seems to be an uncommon connection with the things that surround that person and the character of the person themselves.

I picked this book up because there’s a danger of being too cool or too hip where I work. Our radio stations are called “The Edge Radio,” and we play loud Christian music (read: music that some churches would never let their own children listen to) so that they’d have a better alternative to the crap that you get on FM stations now. (I know I just made a sweeping statement, but come on, name ONE radio station that you can listen to for 24 hours, and which you will let young children listen to and know that they’ll come away from it better people? Just ONE.)

Back to the book.

So far, so good. Brett Mccracken seems to be describing something that (1) we already know because, well, we’re part of this scene, (2) a lot of other churches are trying to get into because it’s “cool,” and because being “fundamental” in the 21st century just doesn’t seem to sound good anymore. I’m halfway through the book now, and he’s not done describing this phenomenon called “Hipster Christianity.” (Capitals all mine.) In a way, I can’t wait for him to start talking about the perils of being too hip or too cool.

Paul said something interesting in his letter to the Corinthians, about how “I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.” 1 I may not agree with the way the world would want me to live my life, but I think it’s a little bit dumb if I knock down something totally beautiful like a Jackson Pollock or that awesome guitar rift from While My Guitar Gently Weeps. I don’t mind using a little bit of jazz or rock or a craftily made video to praise my God a little more. (And maybe show the rest of the world how serious we are about praising Him.)

So this promises to be an interesting read. Hopefully, it brings us all back to the heart of worship. How, even if you strip away the glitter, wayfarers, and nice shoes, it’s really all about the heart of things.

Sincerity and worship, no matter how you dress it, always stands out.

  1. 1 Corinthians 9:22

Hipster Christianity is available at all OMF Lit Bookshops (limited stocks only)

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