Hipster Christianity | INFJ Forum

Hipster Christianity


Community Member
Jul 29, 2008
9w1 sp/so

Here's an interview with the author, with the most important points copied here.


Do you identify with certain elements of hipster Christianity yourself? Which ones?

Definitely. I identify with hipster Christianity's interest in social justice and thinking about how the church is meant to be for the world (i.e. the Gospel as positive, transformative power) as opposed to against it. I identify with the way it appreciates art, culture, conversation, ideas, books, etc. I appreciate the way it attempts to correct the anti-intellectual and anti-culture strains of former eras of evangelicalism. I appreciate its attempts to recover ancient practices of the church, even if it sometimes feels anachronistic or maddeningly ala carte.

What made you decide that hipster Christianity was worth writing an entire book about (as opposed to an article or blog post)? Why is it so important?

It started as an article for Relevant magazine ("A New Kind of Hipster") which got a big response back in 2005. I think I decided to pursue it as a full book because I came to realize that the somewhat specific culture of "hipster Christianity" was actually indicative of much broader tensions and paradoxes in contemporary Christianity dealing with identity, image, and the question of cool. Since at least the 1960s, evangelicalism has been wrestling with how it should position itself vis-a-vis the broader popular culture: it's youth obsession, the marketing emphasis, prominence of media, etc. As a result, the church is often trying to brand itself according to what is currently trendy or fashionable, and all of this has major implications for how we think about the church and what we should be in and for the world.

What are some of the redemptive elements of hipster Christianity?

I actually have a chapter of my book called "Authentic Christian Cool," where I talk about the redemptive parts of hipster culture and under what circumstances hipster is a good thing for the church. I talk about the positive traits of hipster culture, such as the celebration of culture and "good things" (loving food, nature, art, etc), and the way that hipsters seem to genuinely appreciate God's creation and are curious and awestruck by it. I also think that to some extent, the "hipster" mentality of being different and not following the pack can lend itself well to Christianity, if the "difference" we are committed to is biblical and not just some nebulous "rebellious/subversive/countercultural" commitment.

Which elements do you perceive as being problematic?

I think there are certain essential elements to the nature of "cool" that are fundamentally at odds with Christianity, thus making "hipster Christianity" a problematic fusion. For example, "cool" is all about self-obsession and narcissism, while Christianity calls us to be selfless and giving. "Cool" is about elitism, exclusivity, and arrogance, while Christianity is about humility, inclusivity and loving others. "Cool" is about style, irony, and transience, while Christianity is about substance, sincerity, and transcendence. There are just so many points at which cool and Christianity seem irreconcilable.

I think one of the big ones that a lot of us have experienced first-hand is the way that "hipster Christianity" can seem alienating. Some of the churches I've visited were so hip and so full of well-dressed hipsters that I felt like such an uncool outsider. It makes you feel self-conscious. Makes you feel alienated. And what kind of feeling is that to have in a church? I'd hate to ever make "uncool" visitors feel like they weren't cool enough to be in a church! It seems to me that in the New Testament, Paul is especially adamant on the point (in I Corinthians 10-11, for example), that Christianity is no place for the flaunting of privilege or distinction (whether class or ethnic or whatever), and I think that is exactly what happens anytime you have a church were some members are cool and know it (and flaunt it), while others are not so much.

Was Jesus
I tried to read the whole interview and look at the Christian hipster site with an open mind. *sigh* I just don't get the "hipster scene" and the fact that these particular hipsters are Christian doesn't help me understand them any better.
It seems like a new version of the cultural Christianity of so many countries in days gone by.
If I can ever get myself out of my current employment, I want to get rid of my stuff and move into some remote wilderness to live like a monk/hermit. Not very hipster.
Well, I guess this is as good a reason as any to publish a book. I'm sure she has seen enough to form an opinion but this doesn't really match up with most of what I see....and I see a lot.

I am pretty hip, I suppose, but only because I see Christianity as highly relevant and always new. The religion has it's culture (perhaps various cultures), but it's the experience with the Divine Life that really makes it dynamic, real, and effective. In this regard, one can take it in many directions from a cultural perspective, but I think things tend to work out in a more authentic fashion when faith alters us....not visa versa. The former probably is enough to bounce one beyond the reach of something that is purely a trend.