A new book released this month called Hipster Christianity, and I’ve not read it, so this is not a promo in any way. I don’t have any plans to either (no offense to the author). Though I think, without having read the book, I know exactly what the author is referring to.
I need no aid of statistics that back me up in the claim that Christianity has lost some considerable popularity and influence in recent times. Ever since the 60’s things just haven’t been the same. (I’d like to write sometime how this could actually be a good thing for Christianity). Nowadays its not particularly hip to be religious – in fact in some circles faith is considered archaic.
Some blame this change on the rampant and freely moving sin in the world: “It’s the obsession with sex; everyone is living in a continual orgy!” Others point the bony finger in the face of the fundamentalist sector of Christianity that has committed a thousand sins, alienating and abusing the people it’s tried so hard to convert.
I’ve been acutely aware that Christianity is not viewed so highly. In school (both high school & college) I seldom divulged my religious affiliation except to those who were Christians themselves. I kept it hidden precisely because I knew full well that it carried a strong negative connotation and wouldn’t propel me into the ranks of the popular people (my goal wasn’t to be popular, yet I didn’t do too much to fall lower in the ranks either).
I suspect that the whole ‘religious hipster’ scene emerged as a way to redeem Christians to the world, so that we wouldn’t look like such losers. What emerged was a type of Christian who could artful, justice oriented, philosophical, who smoke pipes on occasion, hangs in coffee shops, dresses in vintage clothes that only partially hide some tattoos. Their progressive faith wasn’t so offensive or silly like the Jehovah’s Wtinesses in suits going door to door, and as a result maybe they could finally be kinda cool.
Now I’m not going to criticize this movement to make Christianity a little bit cool, which is probably where you thought this was heading. In fact, I think I’ll do precisely the opposite.
You see, anyone can point out a million flaws in trying to make Christianity seem cool. (Equally you can point out a thousand different hilariously awkward failed attempts at making it cool). However I think the hispster Christianity thing is less a movement and more a stage that many religious people, particularly the young bucks, need to go through.
I may have done it a disservice by suggesting this scene arose out the embarrassment of being seen as wacko Christian and that it emerged as an attempt to make Christianity cool so that a jury of their peers don’t judge them. This makes it sound like they’re doing it for other people. Rather I think so many people are living in the fallout of their ultra conservative religious ways and in fact they need Christianity to be something they could be interested in again. They made it cool for themselves, so that they can find a way to wander back.
This is why I’m not going to tear the movement to shreds. It serves a purpose. And maybe there is a larger lesson here. You see, Christians spend an awful (and I really mean awful) amount of time critiquing each other, pointing out the follies and mistakes of their brethren follies, picking apart each other’s words and nailing people to the wall.
What we fail to realize is that God rarely lets us stay the same. He is always on the move, and his Spirit is all over the earth and chipping away at each and every heart. So I ask you to consider, when you are in the midst of picking someone apart, to consider that there is a reason behind the place they are in, that something led them there, and similarly that something will lead them out again.
For those damaged by the church, Christianity needs to be cool again. It needs to be not some fearsome and alienating. But worry not, for God does not sit still, nor does he say “good enough.”
Whoa long post, sorry guys! Any thoughts? Have you been annoyed by religious hipster movement, or have you maybe owned some of their pants yourself? And do you think it is apart of a healing process they must go through?