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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A Sports Lament

Note: If you don’t like sports, you should probably not spend your time reading this post.

As the rest of the world focuses its sports attention on the World Cup (sorry, I just can’t get into it… blame my inexplicably anti-soccer American upbringing), a Midwestern-born-and-bred sports fan like me is lamenting what appears to be the swift and complete dissolution of the once mighty Big 12 conference. For someone like me, who grew up in the heart of Big 12 country and at various times rooted for teams like Colorado, Oklahoma, and Kansas, it’s sad to see everything changing. It’s sad to see old rivalries like Colorado-Nebraska thrown to the wind in the span of 2 days (with Colorado going west to join the Pac-10 and Nebraska joining the Big-10). It’s sad to see money/TV-deals/power-play motivations taking precedence over the formerly innocent/tradition-steeped ethos of loyalty-rivalry-fight song collegiate athletics.

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What Would You Call Your Hipster Church?

What’s in a name? A lot, if you’re a hipster church. Last week it was announced that Ted Haggard was starting a new church in Colorado Springs that would meet at his family’s home and would welcome any and everyone: “Democrat, Republican, gay, straight, bi, addicts, tall, short.” The church’s name? Saint James. “Because faith without works is dead,” says Haggard. The church’s slogan is “Doing our Faith.”

These days, if you want to start a cool church, it must have a name that either a) has a “deep” meaning, b) has only the obscurest connection to Christianity, c) is shocking in its unorthodox originality, or d) could easily be the name of a Las Vegas nightclub.

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Till We Have Faces

I’ve been a fan of C.S. Lewis for quite a long time, and have read a good many of his books. But somehow I never gotten around to reading Till We Have Faces, which many consider to be his crowning achievement and which he himself believed to be his best fiction work. I read it last weekend and was floored by its beauty. It seemed to be a culmination of so many of the ideas, images and themes Lewis had developed in other books I’d read—like The Great Divorce, The Weight of Glory, Narnia, Out of the Silent Planet—and yet it was perhaps the most literary, original and elegant of anything I’ve read of his.

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We Live in Public

This past week, Facebook users had another one of their patented uprisings, this time crying foul over the purportedly confounding privacy settings that make it hard for people to switch away from the “everyone sees everything” default settings. Out of anger about the great “invasion of privacy” phantom, thousands of users have vowed to delete their Facebook accounts in protest.

It was enough to force Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to call a press conference, apologize, and institute changes such as requiring only minimal information to be visible when people search for others (name, profile picture, and gender). Facebook had earlier required users to make more of their information public.

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CCM Albums of the 90s That Make Christian Hipsters Nostalgic

A lot of Christian hipsters today were raised in the evangelical Christian subculture in the 90s. Thus, while most of them have completely abandoned CCM by now, they still look fondly and nostalgically (with a smidge of irony) upon the Christian music they were reared on. Here are 20 albums that Christian hipsters today love to listen to for a trip down memory lane. What would you add to this list?

Amy Grant, Heart in Motion (1991)
Michael W. Smith, Change Your World (1993)

Tags | Music

"Green Like God?" Interview With Jonathan Merritt

As the BP oil pipeline continues to uncontrollably gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening ecosystems, coastal communities, fishing industries, and all sorts of other living things, the conversation about protecting the environment continues–and perhaps is more relevant than ever.

Christians (particularly evangelicals) have been sadly absent from this conversation in the past, for reasons more political than theological. But that has started to change in the past decade, and one of the leading voices in the evangelical movement for “Creation Care” is my friend Jonathan Merritt, who just released his first book, Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet.

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"Lost" and the Burden of Global Responsibility

Television critics/theorists have had a tendency to talk a lot about the explosion of reality TV as being the quintessential post-9/11, decade-defining phenomenon on television. And certainly there is a lot to be sad about that. But we should recall that Survivor, the survival-on-an-island reality show that kicked off the whole “unscripted” boom, began in May of 2000, 15 months before 9/11. “Reality” may have been a sort of comfort food TV that carried us through the trauma of post-9/11 culture, but it wasn’t necessarily the ontological offspring of that fateful day.

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"Sunday's Coming": An Analysis

If you are at all plugged-in to the evangelical twitterverse or blogosphere, you’ve likely been bombarded by links to the unavoidable video, “Sunday’s Coming,” produced by North Point Church. If you haven’t seen it, watch it here now.

The video, which launched a buzzword (“Contemporvant”), cleverly capitalizes on the recent fervor for evangelical self-parody (see the massive success of Stuff Christians Like, for e.g.) and conveniently resulted in exactly the sort of viral buzz promotion for North Point that its creators doubtless intended. That’s all well and good, but what are we to make of the whole thing?

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Hipster Christianity Update

A lot of exciting stuff has been happening on the book front this week, so I thought I’d note it all in one place, for those of you who may not have known about these things yet.

1) WEBSITE: It went live on Sunday, and has been a big success so far. If you haven’t explored it yet (particularly the quiz, and the “Anatomy of a Christian Hipster” section, which I toiled MANY hours to create), you should take a few minutes to do so now. Launching the website is a huge relief and I’m very proud of it. I’ve been working on it, with designer Tim Dikun and photographer Laurel Dailey, for about three months. So please enjoy it! And pass it on to any and all others who might be amused/provoked by it.

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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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