Thoughts on the Release of Hipster Christianity

Five summers ago, I was a just-out-of-college intern for the C.S. Lewis Foundation, working on the Oxbridge ’05 conference in Oxford and Cambridge. It was one of the most enchanting, life-changing summers of my life. On top of the many brilliant lectures I heard in Oxford and Cambridge, I had dozens of conversations over pints and pipes—at pubs at 2 in the morning, after an evensong service in some magical cathedral, or in the garden of The Kilns (C.S. Lewis’ home in Oxford).  These were the conversations that sparked the first true ideas that would eventually become Hipster Christianity. When I got back home later that summer, I wrote “A New Kind of Hipster” for Relevant. Five years later, Hipster Christianity is out in stores (as of Aug. 1—the official release date).

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New Trailer for Hipster Christianity Interview

Here's the trailer for the Hipster Christianity interview with Brett McCracken, Rebecca Ver Stratten McSparran, Laura Dailey, and Stan Jantz. The entire interview can be viewed here.
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Review: Arcade Fire, The Suburbs

The Arcade Fire’s new album, The Suburbs, is their Joshua Tree. They are the hipster U2. Of course, this could mean that in another decade or so they’ll be playing stadiums packed with 40somethings while the young hipsters are doing something else. But that’s ok. Things change. Tastes are fickle. Nothing lasts except memories and nostalgia. In the future, we’ll remember the time we saw Arcade Fire play at the Hollywood Bowl in quaint old 2005, when “Wake Up” galvanized us fresh-out-of-college idealists and gave us something to spur us on in our awkward entrance into adult existence. We’ll remember it with laughter and tears, marveling at how fast the world went from there.

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Key Dates in the Formation of Hipster Christianity

How did today’s Christian hipster come to be? Here are some key dates in the formation of hipster Christianity:

June 5, 1955: Francis Schaeffer opens L’Abri.

1967: The Living Room coffeehouse opens in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district; origins of Jesus People movement.

1969: Larry Norman’s Upon This Rock (Capitol Records) is released; major release of a “Christian rock” record.

June 21, 1971: The Jesus Movement is profiled in Time magazine article, “The New Rebel Cry: Jesus Is Coming!”

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Have Missions Become Too "Deeds"-Centric?

I really enjoyed a column by Brad Greenberg (of The God Blog) a few weeks back in the Wall Street Journal‘s “Houses of Worship” column. The piece, entitled “How Missionaries Lost Their Chariots of Fire,” took a look at the trends in Christian missions in recent years–most notably the shift among younger evangelicals from proselytizing and preaching to doing more service and social justice oriented work as mission. A shift in focus from words to deeds.

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Interview With Rachel Held Evans

Evolving in Monkey Town is a great new book by a young evangelical author recounting her spiritual journey as she’s moved from the “all questions are answered” certainty of her evangelical youth to the somewhat more complicated, “questions are ok” place she now finds herself. It’s a great read, full of provocative insights and disturbing questions about Christianity–the sorts of things that lead many Christians of a certain age to abandon their faith. In spite of the spiritual crisis she recounts in the book, author Rachel Held Evans hasn’t abandoned her faith, just allowed it to evolve a little bit (hence the title). In this interview, she discusses some of the problems that led her to question her faith (hell, “the cosmic lottery,” etc), the damage done by “false fundamentals,” and what parts of Christianity she’d like to see evolve.

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Review: I Am Love

I Am Love features a jaw-dropping performance by one of the world’s best living actresses–the strange and wonderful Tilda Swinton. That should be reason enough to see it. But the film as a whole is a spectacular artistic achievement–overflowing with life, depth, beauty, elegance, and originality. It’s a true film for the senses, and a must-see for any lover of the cinema.

The film, directed by Luca Guadagnino, is set in Italy in contemporary times, yet has a decidedly retro feel to it–somewhere between The Godfather and Fellini. The narrative centers upon the Recchi family–a wealthy Milanese family representative of the old haute bourgeoisie–as they are forced to adjust to a changing world. Matriarch Emma (Swinton), who married in to the family, never quite feels at home in her role as Italian aristocrat and society hostess. The film is largely about her self-discovery as she encounters a lower-class chef who awakens her passion and emboldens her to transcend her circumstances.

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Christian Hipster Bookshelf

One of the best ways to learn about the type of person someone is is by looking at the books that populate their bookshelves. Books, I’ve found, play a large role in shaping how any of us understand and inhabit our worlds–so naturally they are a good place to go when seeking to understand a subculture. For example, the following is a list of the types of books that define the Christian hipster subculture.

How many of these 50 books have you read? If you’ve read more than 20 of them, there is a good chance that you are a Christian with artistic or intellectual tendencies. If you’ve read more than 30 of them, you are most likely a Christian hipster. If you’ve read more than 40 of them, let me know. You could probably write the sequel to Hipster Christianity.

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Review: Toy Story 3

Despite the fact that it’s another joyous, action-packed, endlessly entertaining and laugh-out-loud Pixar spectacle, there’s something immediately melancholy about Toy Story 3. Perhaps it’s the fact that this is the third and likely last in a trilogy that we’ve all grown so fond of. Perhaps its because Pixar just knows how to do sadness (see Up, Wall E, etc). But mostly I think it’s because Toy Story reminds all of us of our own childhoods–of those whimsical, carefree worlds of make believe that occupied the free time we now fill with work and stress. Oh for the days of youth! The Toy Story trilogy captures it so well, and the third installment beautifully, affectingly evokes one of its most bittersweet aspects: Growing up.

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Tags | Film

Scratching Where They Itch?

One of the most troubling things I see when I look at contemporary Christianity is the mentality that the church should fashion itself according to the needs and wants of the “audience.” It’s an idea that grew out of the evangelical church growth and seeker movements and is practically an epidemic today. Almost every evangelical church these days is to some extent thinking in terms of what the audience wants and how churches can provide them with a desirable product. It’s unseemly, to be sure, but it’s just a symptom of the consumerist culture we live in. Presumably, it’s how things must be done. Whatever else you might say about a product you’re trying to sell, the one thing you know for sure is this: the audience is sovereign.

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About
Brett currently works full-time for Biola University as managing editor for Biola magazine. He also writes movie reviews for Christianity Today and contributes frequently to Relevant magazine.


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