Hipsters Would Never Try So Hard
A few months back, I ran into this guy, BRETT MCCRACKEN, as I was perusing the blog world. He’s writing a book about “Christian Hipsters.” I quickly swept any knowledge of his pursuit under the rug for fear that it would be one more thing that would bring me closer to death. In that, I’m serious. When I see things like this, there is a tension deep in my being that persists until I get it all out. The problem with getting it all out is that people then know how much emotion I have toward the subject and bring it up all the time. It’s an unending cycle… and if you’re one of the dozens of people that have sent me a message saying, “My friend is talking to me about women in ministry right now,” then you’re who I’m talking about.
But alas, good ole McCracken is back in the game of my life. I know even posting about this begins to put me in the same category of “completely absurd,” but this week, a few of my room mates did a photoshoot for an article that will appear in the next issue of Relevant Magazine. The instructions that came with the shoot included the word “hipster,” and when I saw the layout this morning, sure enough, there was that name again.
Now, a few disclaimers.
1. I have not read the Relevant article, so I am not commenting on it in this blog post. There are some great people at Relevant. You can get a subscription and read the article for yourself by clicking here. Since it has yet to be released, I didn’t want to get anyone in trouble by reading it and then posting specifics about it.
2. I actually think that Brett and I would probably get along. Brett, if you read this and ever drop into Orlando, let me know. We’ll meet up and ride fixies or something.
3. My opinions here are not about the quality or Brett’s forthcoming book. I have not read any of it. This post addresses the idea of the existence of a group of people labeled “Christian Hipsters.” Most of what I’m evaluating here comes from Brett’s blog and the comments I have read there.
On February 27, 2009, Brett posted an article on his blog called, “Are you a Christian Hipster?” It is a witty blog post about things ‘Christian Hipsters’ like and do not like. It’s kind of a funny read. However, I was moaning as I read it. Granted, we live in a culture of sheep (see my last blog post), but my thought while I was reading it was, “perhaps the reason people like things is because they are full of meaning and, therefore, call to be liked.” Conversely, ”maybe people don’t like certain things because they are trite and lack depth of meaning. Maybe people aren’t as reactionary as you think.”
The problem is that most people who have gone through the process of genuine discovery of these likes and dislikes – Christian Hipsters, you could say – are NOT people that are going to be reading a blog about “Christian Hipsters.” Evidence: The comments section. Here are some excerpts.
I thought it was more about wearing clothes from American Apparel. Turns out I’m a hipster too!
Oh my goodness, that’s me down to a T!
Ooo…cloves. I could go for some of that right now.
Haha! This is awesome! I’m pretty sure I’m a hipster! But no mention of an affinity towards online churches/campuses?
And herein lies the problem. This book seems like it could quickly become the secret tip book for the chubby youth pastor with a soul-patch or goatee trying with every ounce of desperation to play the hipster role. And hipsters aren’t chubby. They ride their bikes everywhere.
Two truths about “hipsters.”
1. They’re never going to say, “I’m a hipster.”
2. They’re certainly not going to follow the statement with an exclamation mark!
And both of these things have okay reasons.
1. Labels limit potential.
2. Over exuberance is false emotion. There’s nothing wrong with getting excited. It’s a healthy… but to pretend you’ve won a prize by aligning with the hipster list of likes and dislikes is a little over the top.
Now, if Christian Hipsters – no, let’s throw that label out and use what we’re really talking about – if Early Adopters like and dislike things for genuine reasons, is it fair to punish them for the disingenuous people that follow on their heels?
Over the last two years, I have spent a lot of time with people that would certainly not call themselves Christians but certainly realize they embody the label of “hipster,” and THAT is what I have seen the true definition of hipster to be. Knowing what you like, doing it and being okay with it regardless of what anyone thinks. Sure, there are some people that hang around this group that don’t fit into that description… maybe they see me as one sometimes, but I hope most of them see me like this guy who also commented on Brett’s post:
Here’s my prediction (which might be completely wrong):
The book will not be purchased by Early Adopters.
The book will be purchased by people who have been making feeble attempts for the last ten years at being relevant.
Those who purchase the book will do so in an attempt to figure out how they can be cool.
That Brett will lead his readers to a place where they will surrender their identities to the person of Jesus.
That the Church will stop trying so hard to be something they are not and that we will start living out who we were created to be.
Alternate Reading Suggestions
“The Tipping Point” Malcolm Gladwell
“The Key To Life Is Self-Awareness” Cole NeSmith – yet to be written