EMAIL THIS PAGE       PRINT       RSS      

Are You a Christian Hipster?

As you know, I’m writing a book about Christian hipsters and “cool Christianity.” It’s coming along, but many people have asked me: what exactly is a Christian hipster? Am I one? Are you one?

Well, first of all: it’s just a funny label, and we all know that hipsters hate labels. So if you are still reading this post, eager to know what it all means, chances are you are not a Christian hipster. Or maybe you are, and you’re just intrigued by the whole thing (like I am!). In any case, the following is an excerpt from the last chapter I completed (Ch. 5: “Christian Hipsters Today”), and perhaps it will give you a bit of a better sense as to what Christian hipsters are all about…

Christian Hipster Likes and Dislikes (By No Means Exhaustive… Just a Sampling)

Things they don’t like:
Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

Christian hipsters tend not to like contemporary Christian music (CCM), or Christian films (except ironically), or any non-book item sold at Family Christian Stores. They hate warehouse churches or churches with American flags on stage, or churches with any flag on stage, really. They prefer “Christ follower” to “Christian” and can’t stand the phrases “soul winning” or “non-denominational,” and they could do without weird and awkward evangelistic methods including (but not limited to): sock puppets, ventriloquism, mimes, sign language, “beach evangelism,” and modern dance. Surprisingly, they don’t really have that big of a problem with old school evangelists like Billy Graham and Billy Sunday and kind of love the really wild ones like Aimee Semple McPherson.

Things they like:
Christian hipsters like music, movies, and books that are well-respected by their respective artistic communities—Christian or not. They love books like Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider, God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. They tend to be fans of any number of the following authors: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, John Howard Yoder, Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, Soren Kierkegaard, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robison, Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, or anything ancient and/or philosophically important.

Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic, even if they are thoroughly Protestant/evangelical. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina, Lent, and timeless phrases like “Thanks be to God” or “Peace of Christ be with you.” They enjoy Eastern Orthodox churches and mysterious iconography, and they love the elaborate cathedrals of Europe (even if they are too museum-like for hipster tastes). Christian hipsters also love taking communion with real Port, and they don’t mind common cups. They love poetry readings, worshipping with candles, and smoking pipes while talking about God. Some of them like smoking a lot of different things.

Christian hipsters love breaking the taboos that used to be taboo for Christians. They love piercings, dressing a little goth, getting lots of tattoos (the Christian Tattoo Association now lists more than 100 member shops), carrying flasks and smoking cloves. A lot of them love skateboarding and surfing, and many of them play in bands. They tend to get jobs working for churches, parachurch organizations, non-profits, or the government. They are, on the whole, a little more sincere and idealistic than their secular hipster counterparts.

Comments

SOUNDS COOL.
Couple questions....
Why write a book about Christian Hipsters? Is it an expose? a simple exploration?
Whats the point?

I would love to help out. I am working on a book about modern art and modern faith, exploring the connections between the two.
I would love to provide some commentary on the art connection.

one other comment...
are you describing hipsters or just emergent/post modern types...
it seems your descriptions of books and characteristics represent a large group than the hipsters set.

Christian Hipster? I'm not sure what that means, but the information and the detail were just perfect. I think that your perspective is deep, its just well thought out and really fantastic to see someone who knows how to put these thoughts down so well. Great job on this. Take a look at my exercise after pregnancy site.

By the way, what does the word "hipster" means? sounds funny. hyip monitor hyip monitor

I like the info you posted. I trust all from this life. Looks great...Personal loans

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So nice to find somebody with some original thoughts on this subject. realy thank you for starting this up. this website is something that is needed on the web, someone with a little originality. useful job for bringing something new to the internet daily deals deals in bali promo diskon villa resort indonesia..

You got a really useful blog I have been here reading for about an hour. I am a newbie and your success is very much an inspiration for me.
-caravan insurance

I didn't even know what Christian Hipsters was. Lol... Thanks for clearing that up...:)

Payday Loans Canada

At least in the little bit I excerpted in this blog post (which, everyone should remember, is simply a tiny bit of a much larger discussion that is a lot more nuanced, complex, and perhaps more charitable Torrent downloads), I am neither praising nor condemning them. I'm simply describing the phenomenon as I've seen it.

Yeah, I think this is something that really trends based on the total idea of what is hip and what isn't at the time. youth group activities

i am also curious about what do you really mean about 'Christian Hipster', that is why i am so eager to read your blog. Second Hand Golf Clubs

Very interesting blog. Alot of blogs I see these days don't really provide anything that I'm interested in, but I'm most definately interested in this one. Just thought that I
would post and let you know.

pure acai berry max | proactol plus

Okay, I get your picture but I must challenge a couple of things. One, the name "hipster" since it sounds like the person is more "hip" which makes them better than others....Is that what you are trying to portray? That they (or you) perhaps are actually better or just a different part of the Christian landscape?
And your last comment really upsets me. "They are....more sincere and idealistic" I can go with idealistic perhaps but "sincere"...whoa. Since I am much older and have been in probably what would be the hipster category for many years, one thing I have learned is to be careful about judgmental words...I think it 1) brings judgment back to me/you (very biblical) and 2) dilutes your message...I think your description of the group, and it's idealism can be lost if you present it so judgmentally. Just a thought from an old "hippie/Christian radical"!
what does it mean when you dream about someone fh what does it mean when your eye twitches

That's what I love how the new age of worshipping is happening to our society which means that being in love with our lord is as cool as being a celebrity! Thank you for this wonderful trend that is happening now! skill games online skill games

Well, thanks for for your wonderful post.It seems to me much interesting.This site has definitely a potential to post such a wonderful blogs.Hope to get more updates.

Every one of the contents you mentioned in post is too good which enable it to be invaluable. I most certainly will keep it in your mind, thank you for sharing the info keep updating, impatient for much more posts. Thanks pmp certification requirements

Thanks for sharing this article, worth reading. The Secrets is worth seeing.

Scot

Hey there! The blog is totally fantastic. Lots of great information and inspiration, because both versions young people need. Thanks. toronto seo

I found your post really helpful. It helped me all the way in completing my assignment, I am also giving a reference link of your blog in my case study. Thanks for posting such informative content. Keep posting.
schizandra sinensis extract

ha ha...so this is a pretty good list. i already know i fall under this category...but the one statement i would have to disagree w/ personally is this one:

"They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic."--you

i read wild at heart before it was popular...has some great things in it...and "captivating" his wife's follow up is fairly brilliant too. my fmr. youth pastor/big brother and friend is obsessed w/ epic movies, this includes braveheart...(these more me being exception)

and finally, i think most hipsters actually DO like passion of the christ admitted or not. in fact we like that it's incredibly raw and real...b/c most jesus movies are just too dainty when it comes to the death of Christ. a friend of mine wrote and puts on a stage play every year called the thorn, it is basically as raw as passion of the christ except on stage and it really gets the attn. of people in our generation b/c of that. ( this being a collective "hipster" disagreement)

just my thoughts for the moment.

Ash, kinda funny, I think he was right on with "hipsters" not liking Eldredge et al, and I've never met a hipster who would admit to being one...much less, proudly.

This whole thing is just kinda humorous to me. As one who would fit a lot of the description above, I've actually come to finally wonder how many of these cats do these things because they are self-consciously opposed to the American evangelical status quo, and how many just want to be cool...

Okay, I get your picture but I must challenge a couple of things. One, the name "hipster" since it sounds like the person is more "hip" which makes them better than others....Is that what you are trying to portray? That they (or you) perhaps are actually better or just a different part of the Christian landscape?
And your last comment really upsets me. "They are....more sincere and idealistic" I can go with idealistic perhaps but "sincere"...whoa. Since I am much older and have been in probably what would be the hipster category for many years, one thing I have learned is to be careful about judgmental words...I think it 1) brings judgment back to me/you (very biblical) and 2) dilutes your message...I think your description of the group, and it's idealism can be lost if you present it so judgmentally. Just a thought from an old "hippie/Christian radical"!

dear guest-
you're right, that's a statement i think young folks SHOULD be careful of...that is the claim to "more sincerity." b/c that's simply not true. certainly there are men/women in my life that i have great respect for that are much older and have an amazing amount of honesty and sincerity.

as far as the word "hipster"- eh- it's not the ideal i would use, but i suppose for brett's purposes maybe it's the best word for him. the way i see this generation or the term even is something of a "hippie-wanna-be"...the "modern hippie" if you will.

from a personal standpoint, and i can't speak for our blogging friend here, but i am a person that has a great interest in the "social revolutions" and issues of the 60s/70s and how they affect us today- wars, civil rights, women's rights, etc. one of the christians i admire during that time period is keith green and the path of his life as well as how he really reached people...it was this 'jesus freak' hippie culture...that's fascinating me. and while our generation isn't that same culture...we have our own ideals like you all did and want to be the hands and feet of jesus that may not follow the mandate of traditional lifestyles....do i make sense??

chill out guest, 'hip' just means they play the game to be 'cool'.
doesn't mean anything about being better, actually might be WORSE.

Hey! You're really right! I love how the new age of worshipping is happening to our society which means that being in love with our lord is as cool as being a celebrity! Thank you for this wonderful trend that is happening now!

skill games online skill games

Very Funny! What about if you are thoroughly uncool, but you share some of the likes and dislikes of hipsters? Does hip have anything to do with cool? What if you're only like a 30% hipster? Is there an official entry exam?

Brett, a little respect for your elders might be in order. The late Jerry Falwell was a believer, an elder, a Church leader, and probably many other good things. He was also an imperfect man who reached out to broken people in a fallen world. One of his good friends was none other than sinner/pornographer Larry Flint (see his moving story in the LA Times, May 20, 2007).

I'm pretty tired of the so-called "emergent" movement, with it's shallow, rock star Don Miller types who wear a Patchouli Oil Jesus while preaching a birkenstocks and Starbucks gospel message to a world dying for something real.

If I totally missed your point, I sincerely apologize (and so does my sock puppet who told me about your post).

Hey Brett,

Can you elaborate on this:

"Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic, even if they are thoroughly Protestant/evangelical."

And, what do you mean by "they are thoroughly Protestant/Evangelical"? What does it mean to *them* to be thoroughly Protestant and Evangelical?

Nick

nick-

i think i get it. or maybe it's my personal whim but- here's my answer: my parents great up catholic, their parents either grew up catholic or converted young. my parents raised me in evangelical churches and pentecostal ones. i am not a catholic. but let me tell you how much i enjoy going to mass. also while i (or we) may not always agree w/ the theological "necessities" of catholicism, i see the symbolic nature of many of them and personally love that aspect. also, catholics tend to have a more reserved relationship w/ christ. they find importance and character of reaching the poor...i see this more so in the catholic church sometimes than the evangelical. remember i'm referring to mainstream "church" today. catholic churches are still in neighborhoods. there is a sense of reverence they have for God that is amazing. their active and i see it. again, this is not to say i agree w/ EVERYthing, but i think there is something i identify w/...you could say i'm a "catholic empathizer," if that makes any sense to you.

does that help? or make you more confused?

Hey Ashley,
Thanks for responding.
I think I understand most of what you said, but it doesn't totally answer my question of what it means to Christian hipsters to be 'thoroughly Protestant/Evangelical'.
Nick

Nick- Apologies for just now getting to your question. Just now seeing all these comments/questions.
When I say they are "they are thoroughly Protestant/Evangelical" I basically mean that they have grown up immersed in protestant evangelicalism (often of the Bible Belt variety) to such an extent that the tenets of protestantism are indelibly ingrained, so that even though many things about Catholicism or "high church" might be welcome and appealing to them (such as liturgy, sacraments, aesthetic forms), the core theological things that set Protestants apart from Catholics (i.e. issues of authority, soteriology, etc) remain very important to them, even if they don't consciously recognize it.
Hope that helps clear things up.

You guys all know this is supposed to be kind of satirical right?

Hey CJ,

Great, I'm gonna be "that guy"; that humorless, needs-to-relax-and-listen-to-some-Bon Iver guy. I apologize up front.

If it's satirical, where are the sarcasm and criticism? To me it reads like a an accurate analysis, an informative piece - which I appreciate, Brett! Maybe the sarcastic and critical insights come later when Brett shows how Christian hipsters who emphasize the "hip" instead of the "Christian" are making the same error as their parents who emphasized the "mega" instead of "church"; both by putting consumerism and frivolities over the authority of the Bible and any kind of life-wrenching truth.

That said; yeah, Brett I'm sincerely interested in how those hipsters would define themselves as thoroughly Protestant & Evangelical. Is that a label they would even use or would they seek to avoid it in favor of something much more...ambiguous?

Nick

Oh dude, you asked a good question, I was talking about some of the comments above yours. You're not "that guy" =D

nick-

i do hope that brett will answer your question as to what HE means. the only thing i could think on this subject matter is that it's people who have spent most of their time w/ the "evangelical" crowd and tend to agree w/ the theological approaches to christianity the way protestants do....rather than the catholic approach...the "but" then is everything i said before.

See Ashley, you've cracked open the point that I'm hoping Brett will elaborate on. :)

You said that they tend to agree with evangelical "approaches" over Catholic "approaches". The word "approach" to me seems to mean that they are more concerned with what they DO and how they DO it, rather than WHY they do it. Do those hipsters who consider themselves thoroughly Evangelical define themselves that way only by practice, tradition, or upbringing? (Which is to make the same error as the megachurches/traditional churches they might rail against.)

If so, the next question I would ask is how is defining themselves primarily by practice detrimental to their core beliefs? It would seem that belief informs practice, or that practice flowers from the roots of belief. But to define ourselves first from practice is to bury the flower upside down and hope the petals turn themselves into roots.

Nick

Not sure about all the labels and comparisons, but there's a bigger picture here of the old guards dying out. Stratification in the church will evolve but likely continue looking like the Myers-Briggs personality types. I personally long for an evolution along the collective praxis of the Henri Nouwens, Richard Fosters, Anabaptists, Eastern Orthos... in general the one's who emphasize a Jesus of profound and overarching peace and love and reconciliation and minimize the Jesus of politics, binary evangelism, and cultural separation.

may not always agree w/ the theological "necessities" of catholicism, i see the symbolic nature of many of them and personally love that aspect. also, catholics tend to have a more reserved relationship w/ christ. they find importance and character of reaching the poor...i see this more so in the catholic church sometimes than the evangelical. remember i'm referring to mainstream "church" today. catholic churches are still in neighborhoods. there is a sense of reverence they have for God that is amazing. their active and i see it. again, this is not to say i agree w/ EVERYthing, but i think there is something i identify w/..Poker Leader.you could say i'm a "catholic empathizer," if that makes any sense to you.

To be honest, I even could not imagine how hard it is to find decent piece of info on the above topic. It took me a couple of hours before I came across your site. No doubt, it is the best freely available source! Thanks for it!
-steel traders

This is so interesting, that I kept reading all of your other posts too.

If you're writing a book about this, you're already 12-18 months behind the times, and you probably don't know what you're talking about buck-o.
Why not just write a blog like everyone else you think you're writing about? Oh, wait, this is a blog; how self-conscious.

I will offer you a couple of insights that you might not be aware of:

I think its important to mention that most hipsters, Christian or not, also like to drink to excess Thursday through Saturday nights. They also like to have sex. Lots and lots of sex. Combining the two is popular as well.
They are actually pretty bad Christians when you get down to it. You should mention that in the book.

Finally, a common misconception is that hipsters listen to freak-folk, such as Sufjan, Silver Mount Zion, Akron/Family, or the Dodos. This is a misconception. The band considered freak-folk that hipsters do LOOOVVVEEE, however, is Animal Collective. And that's just because Pitchfork told them to. Hipsters generally listen to three things:
1) the indie rock they listened to in highschool/college, and 2) bad dance music played by bands with shitty names like MGMT, Justice, and that other band, Ass. 3) Finally there's Garage Rock, which is just code for bands that really suck but put tons of reverb on everything to make their musical and songwriting deficiencies sound like they're coming from the house next door (which it probably is).

Oh, and you didn't even bring up American Apparel. Pfft.

Brett -
Regardless of the satirical nature of your hyperbolic lists (I could add to them!) there is some truth to the contrast / balance between Catholics and Evangelicals... I grew up going to a Lutheran church with my German relatives, the United Church with my immediate family, and attended a Catholic school for the elementary years (while listening to my Grandfather spout Zen mantras he learned as a child, growing up in China with parents working with the China Inland Mission)... and then, Baptist & Pentacostal youth groups in my teens... and working the past 15 years for an evangelical Christian org. supporting people with disabilities. Am I a hipster? Not likely, but I laugh when co-workers bring in book after book (the latest is "The Shack") and espouse the values of these secondary texts.
There's a lot of showmanship and polish evident in American-style evangelicalism, (can they spaeek ah-bout Jaee-zus with-awht a South-a-ren accent?!) and a huge publishing industry with book after book to support various views, allegories and visions. At times, I enjoy the contrast of attending a simple, bare hospital chapel. At times, I enjoy the iconography and liturgical responses (hey, a parallel to mandalas & mantras, man!) at mass. But, in the end, there is nothing more hip than the bare basics: the Word, our life & our Saviour. All else is extraneous and superficial.
- John in Canada

Thank you for such a great post!

What's interesting to me is WHY these Christian hipsters identify with the things you listed above.

For my part:

I grew up in churches that were affiliated with the "shepherding" disaster in the neo-Pentecostal/charismatic culture; some of the churches met in living rooms. While attending those churches, I was going to fundamentalist Independent Missionary Baptist schools.

So, basically, I was irreversibly convinced of Hell and the Devil and a God who was essentially just like the Devil.

A little liberty (flask and smoking) along with a little philosophical food (Kierkegaard, Lewis) and doses of joy and beauty (Chesterton, liturgical worship) were more along the lines of finding a reason not to shoot myself -- rather than finding a way to be hip. You know?

Now I'm nearing 40 and have three kids and don't have much time to be hip anyway. But I am raising my kids in a liturgical church, so when they're my age, they can rebel by banging tambourines and speaking in tongues on a living room floor....

cheers,
Colin
LiturgicalCredo.com

I guess as humans we'll never cease to use labels, definitions, or boxes to make sense of things. Undoubtedly, it is part of our finite nature. After all, language is the wall that surround us.

I believe that Jesus is the Son of God, I believe his death and resurrection is enough for my salvation. I believe that I am condemned apart from God's grace and mercy. Does that makes me a christian? Doubtfully so. It certainly makes me, or anyone who believes the same, a child of God. That's a label, but I am constrained by language.

I am not a little christ. i.e. Christian by definition. I am being made in His likeness, but He wants me to be me. A sanctified, glorified me. Perfected by His presence in my life, but nevertheless, me.
I am not a Hipster. In order to reject the established culture, (Christian or otherwise) I would have to remove myself completely from it and by doing so I would be creating, establishing a new culture. Also I find advocating extreme liberalism in politics and lifestyle far away from what I believe is expected of me as a new creation.

So, I find myself rejecting a decadent Christian culture. but finding that the "resistance" i.e. Christian Hipsters has new blood, but the same faulty foundation.

It is my great pleasure to visit your website and to enjoy your great post here. I like it very much. I know that you put much attention for these articles, as all of them make sense and are very useful.

Your blog is absolutely fantastic, congrats. Toner

This whole thing is just kinda humorous to me. As one who would fit a lot of the description above, I've actually come to finally wonder how many of these cats do these things because they are self-consciously opposed to the American evangelical status quo, and how many just want to be cool...
lebensmittel online kaufen df spielzeug online shop

online shop kleidung fg outdoor online shop

I personally find this a little insulting. You are making assumptions in a field that you clearly misunderstand, and are a little jaded on. As someone who is a Christian and probably a hipster, I am insulted that you accuse all of us of having sex like crazy and drinking like fish. For the record, I do none of this because I respect my body as a temple of God. I also don't smoke anything, as Brett accused us of in his blog, but I'm sure some Christian hipster do.
I just ask that you please have a little more respect. I know a lot of hipsters who give hipsters a bad name, and a lot of Christians who give Christians a bad name, and I'm sure that you do too. Don't let them dictate your views of Christian hipsters. I'm here to tell you that most of them are pretty harmless.

»  Become a Fan or Friend of this Blogger
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.


Media
Resources