Announcing... Book No. 2

It’s been almost a year since Hipster Christianity, my first book, was released. Thank you to all those read it, responded to it, engaged it and supported me throughout the process of it. HC was a thrilling, humbling, once-in-a-lifetime experience. You only write your first book once, after all. I’m thrilled with the conversations it started, and I thank God for giving me the opportunity to contribute to such an important ongoing discussion, both in the writing of the book and in the subsequent interviews, dialogues, lectures, and speaking engagements I’ve been blessed to participate in.

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Medium: Cool

The following is an excerpt from the lecture I delivered at Taylor University this week (“Medium Cool: A Formal Analysis of the Christian Hipster”). Enjoy!

Imagine you are a visitor to a church, and you walk in to find that nearly everyone around you is a well-dressed, fashionable, “indie”-looking twentysomething with skinny jeans, stylish hair, and a clear sense of cutting-edge fashion. You look at yourself, and you don’t fit in. You feel self-consciously excluded, unfashionable and awkward. We all know what this feels like. Whenever you’re around a bunch of hipsters and you are clearly not as hip, you feel uncomfortable. You can’t help but feel that way.

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Anatomy of a Christian Hipster

Confused about what a Christian hipster looks like? Fear not. There are interactive photos on the official Hipster Christianity website designed to describe (in great detail) what Christian hipsters look like. Click on the images below to find out more.

“The Artistic Searcher” – One of the most common types of Christian hipsters, the Artistic Searcher is the person whose deep spirituality manifests itself in the dark room and on GarageBand. They are poets, painters, writers, musicians, designers and creators who see themselves as image bearers of the Creator and thus charged with the task of incarnationally concocting and enjoying culture. Frequently art majors at evangelical colleges whose intellectual life was rocked by That One Art History Professor Freshman Year, these Christian hipsters usually undergo dramatic shifts in their views of art between the ages of 18 and 25. They grew up loving Thomas Kinkade-esque impressionism, later graduated to an affinity for abstract expressionism, and currently enjoy installation or video art by the likes of Tim Hawkinson and Matthew Barney. But mostly they just like to create–not didactically or in ways that are obviously “Christian,” but in ways that are subversive and individual and a true reflection of that ineffable, Chestertonian sense of “divine discontent.”

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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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5 Questions for Brett McCracken

Brett McCracken is a graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA. His day job is managing editor for Biola University's Biola magazine. He regularly writes movie reviews and features for Christianity Today, Relevant magazine, and ConversantLife.com.

In Hipster Christianity (Baker Books), Brett examines an emerging category he calls "Christian hipsters"--an unlikely fusion of American obsession with being "cool" and the realities of a faith that is often seen as anything but. Brett was kind enough to answer 5 Questions about his book and what it's all about.

What does “Hipster Christianity” mean?

Hipster Christianity is, in short, the fusion of hipster culture—independent, alternative, anti-mainstream, fashionable—with Christianity. It’s a world of mostly twentysomething Christian evangelicals who grew up on CCM and hysteria about being in the “end times,” but now care more about things like social justice, creation care, and whiskey tasting. It’s a world where things like Left Behind, Jesus fish bumper stickers, and door-to-door evangelism are relevant only as a source of irony or nostalgia. It’s a world where Braveheart youth pastor analogies and Thomas Kinkade and anathema. Hipster Christianity is about rebelling against the legalistic, overly political, apathetic-about culture evangelicalism of the latter half of the 20th century. It’s a new iteration of youth-oriented, alternative, countercultural Christianity—the offspring of the Jesus movement of the 60s-70s but less Pentecostal and more liturgical (in a “postmodern pastiche” sort of way).

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Hipster Christianity

We had a great conversation with Brett McCracken, author of the brand new book, Hipster Christianity (Baker Books). Joining Brett were Rebecca Ver-Straten McSparran, Director of the LA Film Studies program, and Laurel Dailey a professional photographer who produced and shot the photos for the book's website, hipsterchristianity.com.

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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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The book is not dead nor does it sleep

Anybody who says the book is dead hasn't been keeping up with current events. Truth is, more books are being published now than ever before. Way more.

More than a million book titles were published in 2009--a quarter of those by "traditional" publishers and the rest by self-publishers and micro-niche publishers--including five titles by ConversantLife writers published by Conversant Media Group and Harvest House:

  • Apologetics for a New Generation by Sean McDowell: Helping you effectively share the answers to life's big questions with a new generation.
  • I Can't See God Because I'm in the Way by Stan Jantz and Bruce Bickel: Showing that a fresh view of God is more accessible than you think.
  • The Last TV Evangelist by Phil Cooke: Knowing why the next generation couldn't care less about religious media, and why it matters.
  • The God Question by J.P. Moreland: An invitation to honestly explore an entirely new way of living--the way of Jesus.
  • The Forecast by Caroline Ferdinandsen: A counterfeit memoir the lets the author lie the entire time and still tell you the absolute truth.
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Top Ten Cities for Christian Hipsters

As an entirely unscientific but perhaps accurate summary of the geographic loci of Christian hipster, here is a list of what I suggest are the ten most important cities for Christian hipsterdom. These may not be the cities with the most or the highest concentrations of Christian hipsters; They are simply the most important—for a number of reasons.

10) Orlando: This seems like an unlikely spot for a high hipster population, and indeed it is. But Orlando is the home of Relevant magazine, which immediately puts it on the Christian hipster map. It is also home of the ridiculously unhip Holy Land Experience, and hip churches with names like H20, Status and Summit.

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