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).
Recently, there was a mini firestorm online brought about by how a Christian conference was selecting its speakers. The conference organizers used a polling system in which respondents could vote "Thumbs Up" or "Thumbs Down" on any given nomination. Voters could also suggest their own speaker if they thought someone else would be better to listen to. (For more on the hoopla, visit here.
While the use of this new technology generated considerable interest for the conference organizers, what's really interesting is that we often face the less blatant version of this in every day Christian life. At least one other commentator has made the point that preachers, especially, are ranked and categorized and are given an often-hidden, thumbs up or thumbs down. It's less blatant than an online polling system, but the gossip and evaluation are effective at the task nonetheless. Often this has little to do with the substance and much to do with the individual's entertainment value.