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March 11, 2011 5:22 PM   Subscribe

Hipster Faith "To remain relevant, many evangelical pastors are following the lead of hipster trendsetters. So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?"
posted by klangklangston (136 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Something something Thunderdome.
posted by The World Famous at 5:24 PM on March 11, 2011 [10 favorites]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

I brings out ma punchin' fist.
posted by lumpenprole at 5:24 PM on March 11, 2011 [18 favorites]


Aaaaargh, I'm having horrible flashbacks to a 70s childhood of "guitar mass" and Good News for Modern Man.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:25 PM on March 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Good lord, it's like these people were made in a test tube over in the Metafilter Labs, as some sort of thread-based bioweapon.
posted by hincandenza at 5:27 PM on March 11, 2011 [58 favorites]


What the heck is a "vaguely Middle Eastern tattoo"?
posted by GuyZero at 5:27 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That last bit makes me think this whole article is a troll.
posted by hermitosis at 5:29 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Following the lead of Chuck Smith, whose outreach to hippies through Calvary Chapel reaped huge dividends, more evangelical leaders in the 1980s and '90s actively sought cool. They began to reach out to the youth culture and form churches to fit its needs—motivated by a renewed desire to be contemporary, current, and relevant. As a result, evangelicalism in the '90s had a firmly established youth culture, built on the infrastructure of a lucrative Christian retail industry and commercial subculture. Huge Christian rock festivals, Lord's Gym T-shirts, WWJD bracelets, Left Behind, and so forth.It was big business. It was corporate. It was schlocky kitsch. And it was begging to be rebelled against.

Enter the age of the Christian hipster. As the '90s gave way to the 2000s, young evangelicals reared in the ostentatious Je$us subculture began to rebel. They sought a more intellectual faith, one that didn't reject outright the culture, ideas, and art of the secular world. In typical hipster fashion, they rejected the corporate mentality of the purpose-driven megachurch and McMansion evangelicalism, and longed for a simpler, back-to-basics faith that was more about serving the poor than serving Starbucks in the church vestibule.
Sounds pretty good (and more like Christianity) to me.
posted by weston at 5:30 PM on March 11, 2011 [14 favorites]


Use Helvetica fonts as much as possible.

Jesus hates your favorite font.
posted by Glibpaxman at 5:31 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Two great tastes that.... you know what, just get a jerry can and meet me on the roof.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:32 PM on March 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


That last bit makes me think this whole article is a troll.

No kidding. "Put a worship pastor onstage decked in clothes from American Apparel."?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:32 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm really trying to slog through this article, but it's just hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 5:34 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


I haven't enjoyed a Christianity Today article as much as this one since when they were worrying over new Pentacostals not literally being possessed by Jesus and speaking in tongues anymore.
posted by klangklangston at 5:41 PM on March 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


good lord (no pun intended), we went through this crap in the '60's too. "make it relevant, connect to the kids, make the music sound like their music, dress the same, use beat/hippy/disco/80's whatever/90's whatever/2000's whatever words/images/etc.
posted by tomswift at 5:41 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


The thing is, I don't disagree with the idea, just as I could respect the 'Jesus hippie' of yesteryear as internally consistent and fundamentally kind.  I'm an athiest to the core, but I don't intrinsically despise people of faith. Some of the kindest, nicest people I've met are devout Christians, and they don't make a show of their faith.  The loathsome Christians are the holier-than-thou, "you're all going to hell" blowhards who care less for the message than the membership. To those people, their faith is more like rooting for a football team, or showcasing an "in-group" status.

Which... really, is what we mock about hipsters, and the amoral megachurch suburbanites alike: the "us/them" divisions, the endless posturing, and the desperate desire to showcase the material emblems of belonging.  They've replaced one inauthenticity with another.

And that's a shame, but I suppose if you're going to be an elitist prick about something, better a fixie than the Crucifixion.
posted by hincandenza at 5:45 PM on March 11, 2011 [36 favorites]


hipster Christianity is in large part a rebellion against the very subculture that birthed it.

Um, I think Christianity was birthed (birthed?) in a pretty hip subculture and got straightened later on.
posted by Obscure Reference at 5:46 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh 12 disciples. I was really into him before he got so mainstream.
posted by ND¢ at 5:48 PM on March 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

I'm annoyed by vacuous actions to the power of two?
posted by modernnomad at 5:49 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I liked it better when I could identify ultra-right fuckwads by the way they dressed. For all this talk about renewed interest in social justice and environmental stewardship (which is good, I guess), places like Mars Hill are still shockingly conservative in other ways, like their attitudes towards women's rights, sex outside of wedlock, and same-sex marriage.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 5:50 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

In the immortal words of Hank Hill? "You aren't making Christianity better, you're just making rock and roll worse."
posted by kittens for breakfast at 5:54 PM on March 11, 2011 [72 favorites]




Please tell me that they travel to South America to go to heavy metal churches , but that they only do so ironically.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 5:57 PM on March 11, 2011


Jim Bakker's son?
posted by k8t at 6:01 PM on March 11, 2011


Coulda sworn this was a double, but I guess not. Anyway, previously on MetaFilter...
posted by pts at 6:02 PM on March 11, 2011


Wouldn't somebody ready to embrace Christianity be sort of, I dunno, sick of hipster glibness and all? Which makes me wonder about both the intent and intelligence of people pushing this...
posted by jonmc at 6:03 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Another "c" word: cringeworthy.
posted by zardoz at 6:03 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


For all this talk about renewed interest in social justice and environmental stewardship (which is good, I guess), places like Mars Hill are still shockingly conservative in other ways, like their attitudes towards women's rights

I couldn't remember what you were talking about, so I did a little research- it was their pastor Mark Driscoll who called out pastors' wives who let themselves go after Ted Haggard's scandal.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


good lord (no pun intended), we went through this crap in the '60's too.

And the seventies, and the eighties. I stopped paying attention after that. Charismatic Catholicism was just too fucking weird.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:05 PM on March 11, 2011


NTM, rock and roll, R&B, and hip-hop have always had very distinct and frank religious threads to them, they just aren't connected to a prominent evangelical organization is all.
posted by jonmc at 6:07 PM on March 11, 2011


Apparently the premier magazine for young Christians is named "Relevant". That reminds me of the religious (mostly Christian) magazine at my alma mater named "Unashamed".

Perhaps the big magazine of the next generation of Christians will be "Not Desperate".
posted by shii at 6:10 PM on March 11, 2011 [11 favorites]


wow, if hating Thomas Kinkade paintings makes you a hipster, I apparently have been one since I was like 9.
posted by daisystomper at 6:12 PM on March 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Please tell me that they travel to South America to go to heavy metal churches , but that they only do so ironically.

They ironically wear Stryper t-shirts.
posted by The World Famous at 6:15 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I don't really think this is terribly shocking. When I was in middle school, even my relatively dull mainline church seemed to push youth ministry as a "minister to the cool" sort of thing. And I am not really a fan of that. Some of this is real, authentic, great, but as much of it is lip service to the youth as anything else. Okay, so different stuff is cool now; now we're doing indie music instead of overproduced pop. And?

It never sits very well with me, in whatever form. I've seen too many of the Cool Christian Kids who said all the right things but if you really looked at it, it was all very self-serving and exclusive. This is why I'm still attending a pretty old-fashioned church. I'm not against modernizing at all, but I can't stomach doing it as long as it's sold as "look at us we're so cool". I'm pretty sure the Bible's got something to say about that sort of attitude.
posted by gracedissolved at 6:17 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Seattle's horribly reactionary Mars Hill Church.
posted by Artw at 6:20 PM on March 11, 2011 [8 favorites]


Called it!
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:20 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Christ, what assholes?
posted by thebrokedown at 6:20 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I remember, when I was six or seven, my mom was really into Thomas Kinkade. We were looking through a book of his paintings, and I asked, why are the lights on in every window in every picture? My mom said, because he's the painter of light™. I think I said something along the lines of it looks like the fire of hell is burning from inside. From then on, we didn't have Kinkade paintings in our house.
posted by Taft at 6:22 PM on March 11, 2011 [23 favorites]


Relevant links:

Stuff Christian Culture Likes (previously).

The hippie stylings of Second Chapter of Acts.

Rob Bell of Mars Hill (not the woman hating Mars Hill, a different one) on Hell.
posted by emjaybee at 6:24 PM on March 11, 2011


andintroduces herself

Is that legal?
posted by nola at 6:33 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Freakin' poseurs...I was into Jesus when he was still an indie messiah working out of Bethlehem. Now the sheep are freakin' eating up that mainstream crap he's been churning out since he came out of that cave. I mean, his early stuff -- the work with the prostitutes and the thieves, the really ironic stuff? Nobody gets that.
posted by PlusDistance at 6:33 PM on March 11, 2011 [7 favorites]


That last bit makes me think this whole article is a troll.

You do realize it's 7 pages long? What about the last paragraph seems trollish?
posted by desjardins at 6:36 PM on March 11, 2011


Nine O'Clock Service, baby!
posted by PeterMcDermott at 6:37 PM on March 11, 2011


Coulda sworn this was a double, but I guess not. Anyway, previously on MetaFilter...

That was my husband's post, and I can assure you 100% he is no hipster. I'm not sure he knows what American Apparel is.
posted by desjardins at 6:38 PM on March 11, 2011


And lo, did Paul come to Damascus on his fixie...
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:44 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, yeah man, we're into like, pre-Nicene Creed stuff that you probably haven't heard of. You know, a little homoousianism mashed-up with some Arianism. We're basically going back to the whole homoiousian thing, but making it fresh again.
posted by Panjandrum at 6:44 PM on March 11, 2011 [15 favorites]


No genre has ever existed that eventually didn't eventually feature some newsofthewierd-ish story about how that subculture has goddy-bodies in it. The very first time I heard such a story was in the mid-70's and the subculture was Las Vegas strippers.
posted by telstar at 6:45 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Either Father McGruder in Dead Alive or Padre Cortez in Machete.
posted by naju at 6:48 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Also, I know a cool dive that sometimes shows nunsploitation flicks. See you there Sunday.
posted by naju at 6:50 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


desjardins: I didn't mean to suggest anything like that; all I meant to imply with the link was that emergent Christianity's more superficial (perhaps?) adherents are unquestionably who this article is talking about.
posted by pts at 6:51 PM on March 11, 2011


This is a very American issue. Religion is so not in school life in the bits of Canada in which I've lived.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:52 PM on March 11, 2011


Oh, and we've talked about gluten-free communion wafers before.
posted by MrMoonPie at 6:56 PM on March 11, 2011


Long ago I went to some revivalist congregation meeting in a tent on some property near downtown. The pastor was wearing an Einstein Bros Bagel t-shirt. I thought he was being ironic or something, but it turns out he just got off work.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:58 PM on March 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


When cool met Christ in a Presbyterian church in 1970s Maryland, all the Sunday School classrooms ended up painted with Peter Max/Yellow Submarine-style psychedelic murals depicting key stories from the Bible. In my classroom, a little Jesus in the basket of a rainbow-colored hot air balloon looked out over another little Jesus performing the miracle of the loaves and fishes in a multitude of day-glo colors, with a progression of fluffy little thought bubbles coming out of balloon Jesus that read, in that fat cartoony handwriting we all thought was incredibly nifty back then, JESUS IS GROVY. Someone had attempted to correct the GROVY with a hastily added superscript ° that made it read JESUS IS GRO°VY, which didn't really solve the problem in a satisfying way. One had to wonder how often our Lord found himself in a hot air balloon, looking out over his miracles, signs, and wonders, thinking that he was groovy in the third person, and spelling "groovy" incorrectly in his thoughts, but that was, sadly, the least of the doubts and uncertainties I experienced in that church basement.

Also, the intersection of cool and Christ meant we were regularly forced to perform It's Cool in The Furnace, a horrid little confection of musical theater for hip Christian kids about three Jewish dudes tossed into a furnace by Babylonians who survived to sing about the whole affair (Here's a modern rendition, so I guess it's managed endure and torture whole new generation). The little ditty about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a potent earworm that will randomly emerge, decades and decades later, when you're, say, shopping for a decent Belgian endive, occasioning brief thoughts of suicide.

Ultimately, the brief sunshiny romance of cool and Christ is largely responsible for my being a Taoist in my adulthood, so it all worked out in the end.
posted by sonascope at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2011 [27 favorites]


I was introduced the Metafilter by someone who fits this description pretty well. A bunch of other friends of mine fit this as well, and they're all wonderful. I'm an atheist, but I appreciate people of faith who question and try to better understand what that faith means, and that's, from the inside, the biggest motivator for this move. Not a pre-fabricated attempt to make Christianity appeal to the disaffected.

So let's start by dispersing with what the word "Hipster" is supposed to mean. To the writer of this article, it refers to that subculture of young, post-collegiate, educated and mostly white city-dwellers with roots in what I'll call the "alt-community." For many if not most Mefites, it means, "Those particular individuals of that previous description who piss me off, but not my friends and certainly not myself." This is kind of an important distinction for this conversation.

I will own up to being a hipster myself, if only because my friends jokingly call me that often enough, and other people who I would consider to be hipsters always want to hang out and assume that I'm familiar with all the same indie music and movies that they are. So, from my perch on the inside, I can tell you that hipsters care about things, and are highly introspective (navel-gazing, one might say.) So this fits. Most hipsters are going to be atheists, in my experience, but some will not be, and the ones who are Christian aren't going to be in favor of the Darbyist general American version of the faith. Which brings us to an interesting point:

There are a hell of a lot of observant Jewish hipsters. This itself isn't surprising, nor is the fact that we don't bat an eye at that fact. American Judaism could hardly be said to have the same sort of oppressive nature as much of American Christianity. But why, then, should we get enraged by a subsection of Christians who abhor and discard that same oppressiveness? Isn't this how we'd like Christians to act and consider their beliefs?

On the other hand, I've got an old friend, who I've recently started working with because he got some work thrown my way. We met at Church back in high school, and he's roughly the same person he was back then, and I am very much not.This morning he told me of the tragedy in Japan, and ended his recitation of the facts with, "anyway, it's all in the book of Daniel and Revelations." I pointedly refused to bite on that, and just walked away (it's the kind of job where you can do that without it being too awkward.)

And the thing is, he tries to be introspective about what he believes in, but he lacks the tools to properly do so. He didn't do well in school and never finished college, and while he's not un-curious, he has a lot of trouble with new information or ideas which contradict what he already believes. For instance, he is certain that we are at the end of the American era in history (fair enough) but is certain that the EU will rise up as the next global superpower, can give no reasoning for this, and clearly gets frustrated by facts which, you know, all point to the contrary there. And almost every conversation with him is like this.

He's also not cool. Much love to him, because he's a very nice, extremely loyal friend, but he isn't cool by a mile. And so, while I believe that this sort of scene would be perfect for him and his spiritual needs, I don't think he'd fit in at all. Not because the hipsters wouldn't try, but because they are speaking in two different languages, and the hipster one requires a lot of knowledge of references and a lot of assumptions in order to connect to it.

So there's the downside, but in general, as Christianity ain't going anywhere, this is the way I like to see it going instead.
posted by Navelgazer at 7:11 PM on March 11, 2011 [17 favorites]


Bruegger's would've been better, burhanistan.

I wandered into a basement church on Avenue A after a night of drinking, thinking it was a bar. They were very nice about directing me to the restroom. Out of politness, i stayed for the rest of the service. The pastor, who said he was from the former Yugoslavia joked about how hard it was for New Yorkers to open their homes to fellow Cjhristians when our partments are so small. Then they sang songs and did the speaking in toungues thing.
posted by jonmc at 7:13 PM on March 11, 2011


Damn Chripsters.
posted by tresbizzare at 7:14 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


I befriended on Facebook somebody I knew from way back in school. He used to play guitar and be in a band. Now he's a pastor. A hipster pastor.

He will reply to people who aren't religions at all with perfectly normal posts and notes, but then add things like "And may God give me power to praise The Lord today!" at the end, and it is really fucking weird.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 7:15 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


The little ditty about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a potent earworm that will randomly emerge, decades and decades later,

Shadrach, Meschach, Abednego lived in Judah a long time ago
They had funny names and they lived far away
But they set an example you can follow today...
posted by jrossi4r at 7:16 PM on March 11, 2011


And lo Jesus did turn the water into Pabst, and the people saw that it was good. "Jesus, check out my Akron/Family b-sides," saidst one believer. "Shit's tight," said Jesus.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:24 PM on March 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


And lo Jesus did turn the water into Pabst,

Pabst? This was an obvious diabolical impostor. Our saviour would have made Schlitz.
posted by jonmc at 7:26 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The little ditty about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a potent earworm


That one's OK, but this one swings. "And they had a big time in the land of Babylon."
posted by FelliniBlank at 7:26 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


As the '90s gave way to the 2000s, young evangelicals reared in the ostentatious Je$us subculture began to rebel. They sought a more intellectual faith, one that didn't reject outright the culture, ideas, and art of the secular world. In typical hipster fashion, they rejected the corporate mentality of the purpose-driven megachurch and McMansion evangelicalism, and longed for a simpler, back-to-basics faith that was more about serving the poor than serving Starbucks in the church vestibule.

Seriously -- I can't find anything wrong with that. No need to call them hipster Christians; why don't we just call them non-jerk Christians?
posted by contessa at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


i don't know what the hell a hipster even *is*, but i highly recommend Dirty Word: The Vulgar, Offensive Language of the Kingdom of God. i was so taken with it i traveled to pittsburgh to meet those people.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You do realize it's 7 pages long? What about the last paragraph seems trollish?

I didn't see that it was 7 pages long (probably denial kicking in). So I was referring to the checklist on the bottom of the first page, followed by (on the second of SEVEN PAGES): "This is what hipster Christianity looks like; this is what it requires."

Clearly so tongue-in-cheek that I can't believe anyone is discussing this seriously.

*looks upthread*

Oh wait, nevermind.
posted by hermitosis at 7:27 PM on March 11, 2011


Needs the buddyChrist tag.
posted by schmod at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2011


Shadrach!
posted by klangklangston at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The little ditty about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a potent earworm

It sure is.
posted by The World Famous at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


on preview: Great minds, klang.
posted by The World Famous at 7:30 PM on March 11, 2011


They did the same thing in the sixties and seventies with "youth culture" (hippies), lots of really bad Christian themed folks songs, Kumbaya and Joy to the World (the first single I ever owned)*. But portraying Jesus as a hippie was pretty easy, relating that to the church was a little less clear. Hippie values didn't map to middle class values. Hipster values are more nebulous but less threatening, do hipsters have any sort of manifesto? I think of hipster as less of movement and more of a set of cliches (skinny jeans, indy as a lifestyle, etc). In that sense they can just repackage it: "Hipster 2.0 Now with Jesus!". Rearrange some hymns over some Decemberists songs and you're good to go.

*On the plus side, Jesus Christ Superstar was quite popular and was the only rock album my Dad owned. Not quite Sgt. Pepper but some excellent vocals and playing.
posted by doctor_negative at 7:32 PM on March 11, 2011


Poe's Law, hermitosis.
posted by MrMoonPie at 7:34 PM on March 11, 2011


I'm really trying to slog through this article, but it's just hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster hipster.

MUSHROOM! MUSHROOM!
posted by Reverend John at 7:35 PM on March 11, 2011 [12 favorites]


Joy To The World? The Three Dog Night song? I LOVE that song but it never seemed all that 'Christian' to me, more acelebration, of wine, women, song and everything else.
posted by jonmc at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


This all sounds pretty lame compared to the Catholic Worker Movement.
posted by TrialByMedia at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


SNAAAAKE! SNAAAAAAAAAKE!
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:36 PM on March 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hipster Christian, now the time has come
And you know that you're the only one, to say,
"Let's pray."


Where you goin, what you looking for
Those vintage LPs just won't play no more
For you
It's true.


(speaking of earworms)
posted by emjaybee at 7:39 PM on March 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hey! I also came back here to link that classic B-Boys track!

I also got the girlies in the Coupe like the Colonel's got the chickens
posted by Burhanistan at 7:41 PM on March 11, 2011


*motors in*
posted by jonmc at 7:42 PM on March 11, 2011


*motors in*

Well, la de dah.

But what's your price for flight?
posted by gompa at 7:43 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


$20, same as in town.
posted by jonmc at 7:50 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, now I finally know the set-up for that joke.

Thank you, Jeebus!
posted by gompa at 7:53 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah yeah , vegan brunch, growlers, some bowling alley in Brooklyn where they pulled the equipment from the ruins of some place in cleaveland.
posted by Ad hominem at 8:03 PM on March 11, 2011




Poseidon? Yeah, I guess I was kind of a worshipper back in ludus. I'm really more into Jesus now. He's kind of underground; your rhetor probably hasn't heard of him.
posted by No-sword at 8:08 PM on March 11, 2011 [9 favorites]


Ratio: I'm pretty sure that was meant ironically
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:09 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


There was an episode of King of the Hill where Bobby gets into skateboard Christianity, and the moral of the story is:

BOBBY: When I turn 18, I'm going to do whatever I want for the Lord. Tattoos, piercings, you name it.
HANK: Well, I'll take that chance. Come here, there's something I want you to see. (Hank takes down a box from the shelf and opens it up) Remember this?
BOBBY: My beanbag buddy? Oh, man, I can't believe I collected those things. They're so lame.
HANK: You didn't think so five years ago. And how about your virtual pet? You used to carry this thing everywhere. Then you got tired of it, forgot to feed it, and it died.
BOBBY (looks at a photo of himself in a Ninja Turtles costume): I look like such a dork.
HANK: I know how you feel. I never thought that "Members Only" jacket would go out of style, but it did. I know you think stuff you're doing now is cool, but in a few years you're going to think it's lame. And I don't want the Lord to end up in this box.


Which is always my problem with making eternal things (ethics, kindness, intellectual growth, one's faith, whatever) "cool" and "hip." Ugh.

Although, yes, the schlocky kitsch needs rebelling against. Moneychangers in the temple much?

Also, Hank says this about Christian rock, truest thing I ever heard: "Can't you see you're not making Christianity better, you're just making rock n' roll worse?"
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:25 PM on March 11, 2011 [24 favorites]


JEBUS!
hide the tray

see, the tables of the money lender- economic warfare, turning over every table meant a whole re-accounting of organized wealth, took the bankndown for a few days and had others acussing others of pilfering coins, pretty smart really.

posted by clavdivs at 8:32 PM on March 11, 2011


Of course, I credit Andrew Lloyd Webber's little musical attempt at a homophobic jab as it's rendered in the film version of JCS for making me look outside of the church, because Jesus was a dour, pinched New England prep school hippie and Herod was a big jiggly party dude with a raft full of fun friends. Between the hard rockin' histrionic Judas wallowing in his self pity and Ted Neeley Ted Neeleying all over the place in his judgey joylessness and only smiling when his smelly hippie entourage flipped out on angel dust and danced frightening adoration dances for his weird-ass ego trip, I really couldn't side with the guy. I mean, watch that clip and tell me that shaggity lead guy there wasn't the kind of guy who'd still be rutting on you and shivering and grinding his teeth long after you've gone limp and just want him to get the hell out of your apartment.

Man, but those Herod people...they looked like actual fun.

"So," said our Sunday School teacher, the earnest assistant pastor, as he shut off the chattery 16mm projector at the end of our multi-week episodic viewing of JCS. "What do you all think? Does this tell Christ's story in a different way?"

Of course, my hand went up.

"But, it stops at the crucifixion," I said. "Isn't the resurrection the point of the whole thing?"

"Well, Joe, not entirely, but I think you had a similar reservation about Godspell, right? Are you getting hung up on the details?"

Actually, my reservation about Godspell was that I hated Victor Garber as that unsettling clown Jesus so much that I kind of rooted against him through the whole movie. My lesser reservations were that I didn't understand why a ladder and fire extinguishers were scary, and I kept asking why Jesus died from being tied to a fence. My repeated and pointed questioning as to whether it was an electric fence just seemed to make my teacher angrier and angrier, though I really sincerely didn't understand the dying on a fence thing if you're just tied on with ropes. Were the ropes poisoned?

I never got many good answers.

Years later, in a death match argument with a fundamentalist, I was asked what I'd do if I turned out to be wrong in my lack of Christian faith, when I died and had to face Jesus. What would I say, then, wise guy?

I'd just put on my little yellow glasses, smile a sweet, sunny smile, turn my voice up to falsetto, say "Jesus, I am overjoyed to meet you face to face," and hope for the best.
posted by sonascope at 8:39 PM on March 11, 2011 [16 favorites]


If you have to have awesome songs about the Old Testament, you can't do better than The Wilders' Belshazzar.
posted by winna at 8:45 PM on March 11, 2011


In many generations of Christianity, there's been a tension between the impulse to maintain traditional forms of worship and the desire to express the faith in more contemporary ways. You can see this already in the New Testament, with the tensions over Gentiles coming into what was, at first, a nearly-completely Jewish church, whose style of worship was much like that of the synagogue. You can see it when Martin Luther writes hymns built on popular secular melodies. You can see it when modern hymnody developed and the church began accepting songs that weren't directly echoing the psalms and other scriptures. The hipster church stuff is this generation's version of the same thing, and it comes from two sources: people who want to make the gospel relevant to outsiders as a kind of evangelistic move and people who genuinely were hipsters anyway, but are also Christians or become Christians and would like to merge those two parts of their lives.

As an aside, I think a lot of people confuse the terms evangelical and evangelistic. Evangelical denotes agreement with certain theological stances. Evangelistic denotes an intention to actively seek converts to Christianity. Most evangelicals are also evangelistic, but it's not the same thing.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 8:45 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


We had a hip youth minister (Part Native American! Longish hair! Had a hot wife!) He was nice enough, but surrounded at all times by an adoring clique of the absolute worst people in my youth group; rich, snobby and brainless types who sucked up to him and talked about Jesus (sort of) while still hating on the nerds and dorks.

I don't think it was his fault, so much, but it did tinge my feelings towards hip youth ministers the tiniest bit.

Hipness is a trap, after all; you have to keep it up and keep working at it. From the nerd and dork seats, it looked to me like it took up too much time to let him minister to all the kids in his group.
posted by emjaybee at 9:05 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The hipster church stuff is this generation's version of the same thing, and it comes from two sources: people who want to make the gospel relevant to outsiders as a kind of evangelistic move and people who genuinely were hipsters anyway, but are also Christians or become Christians and would like to merge those two parts of their lives.
I think the article actually makes this point, more or less, and suggests that the hipster church works in the second instance but not in the first. Basically what he's saying is that this is a church that is created by and relevant to young, mostly-white, mostly-well-off urban people who have certain values and interests, and it's not easily co-optable by the mainstream church leaders who just want Christianity to seem cool to young people. And that sort of makes sense to me.
posted by craichead at 9:09 PM on March 11, 2011


I swear I read this article years ago, complete with the suggestions to show clips from Coen Brothers movies.

Honestly, people can (and have) made Christianity support any position or culture they like. Communist? Right wing? Self-actualization? Anchoress? There's a Jesus for each one.
posted by Kitty Stardust at 9:41 PM on March 11, 2011


If you have to have awesome songs about the Old Testament, you can't do better than The Wilders' Belshazzar.

And don't forget this classic jam.
posted by thivaia at 9:45 PM on March 11, 2011



Wouldn't somebody ready to embrace Christianity be sort of, I dunno, sick of hipster glibness and all? Which makes me wonder about both the intent and intelligence of people pushing this...


This.

Look, if you are genuinely a hipster, stay a hipster when you come to Christ. But you need to realize that young moms, and old ladies, and tea party white bald guys, and snotty nosed kids, and boring middleaged couples....the body of Christ is made up of many different types of people whose purpose is to follow Jesus, not trends.

As Paul bluntly put it, we preach Christ, and him crucified. That's it. Trying selfconsciously to be trendy is first, ridiculous, and second of all, cliquish in the extreme.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 9:46 PM on March 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


That last bit makes me think this whole article is a troll.

You mean the bullet list? That's only the end of page 1. Page ONE OF SEVEN!

It's trying to reach out to a culture that is not being approached by most churches. "Church seems so square," the kids are saying. "There's not enough Coen Brothers in this place," they say. But if the pastor has to be taught about the culture, don't throw on flannel and jeans on him, get him to grow a beard and start cursing at the pulpit. At the same time, if you don't like organ music and standard hymnals, make a new service with something you like.
posted by filthy light thief at 10:07 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Again, I know these people. They are not trying to be trendy, self-consciously or otherwise. They have their lives, and their concerns, and they see that their reading of the Bible runs very contrary to what most modern American Christians promote. The author might have made a mistake in using the "Hipster" label, but none of the people spoken of in this are trying to make Christianity an exclusive club.

If anything, they are trying to do the opposite, in response to the Republicanization (and subsequent total bastardization) of the who;e faith.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:09 PM on March 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


That last bit makes me think this whole article is a troll.

I read this and then read the article. All seven pages. And the end is sort of like a troll.

There are hipster churches in places like SF and Williamsburg—that's where it all started, the original bespoke hipster Christianity mindset lifestyle. But all those new youthy programs trending in the 'burbs right now? Totally poseur hipster Christian churches. Fukin' fake.
posted by carsonb at 10:13 PM on March 11, 2011


I dunno, for me JCS is all about Judas. It certainly doesn't seem to be much about Jesus and or the dipshit hippy disciples, that's for sure.
posted by Artw at 10:18 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think it's possible to make religion cool or relevant, because it just plain isn't. Believing in something that isn't real is never going to be relevant. One can cherry-pick scriptures and say 'it's a metaphor' all one wants, but after a certain point you can't make a set of Bronze-age myths jive with present-day society.

Also: I really wish they would stop going "hey look, we're hip! we like that rock and roll music!" because they're trying to trick you to get their foot in the door, just like the Jehovah's Witness who knocks and asks if you care about the environment.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:27 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


"It's not the band I hate, it's their fans."

Sorry. Seemed like an apt line.
posted by klangklangston at 10:36 PM on March 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wanted to learn something or gain perspective from this unlikely pairing. Since Christianity and religion don't make any sense to me and never have despite being raised catholic, I just see this as another strange thing that other people might do.

Hipsters, on the other hand, I 'get it'.
posted by hellslinger at 11:12 PM on March 11, 2011


OMG that's what hipster is?? I've been trying to figure out this whole hipster phenomenon. But that's what my church is like! You're telling me I'm a hipster?

I think maybe this was written by Pat Robinson and he doesn't know the difference between "contemporary" and "hipster."
posted by brenton at 11:13 PM on March 11, 2011


> I dunno, for me JCS is all about Judas.

Interestingly, there are gnostic versions of the story that paint Judas in a much different light.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:17 PM on March 11, 2011


he doesn't know the difference between "contemporary" and "hipster."

When everyone is hipsters, no one will be.
posted by girih knot at 12:24 AM on March 12, 2011


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Heavy Metal Monk.
Heavy Metal Church.
posted by louche mustachio at 12:28 AM on March 12, 2011


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?"

$6 cupcakes in the basement following the service?
posted by Thorzdad at 3:19 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Do hipsters have a thing with gluten? I don't get the title of this post.
posted by munchingzombie at 3:20 AM on March 12, 2011


The little ditty about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego is a potent earworm
That one's OK, but this one swings. "And they had a big time in the land of Babylon."


Here's a Finnish reggae band's version of the tale. Before this thread I had no idea it was a popular subject for songs.
posted by Anything at 4:30 AM on March 12, 2011


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Cool doesn't give the absurd, delusional old hippy a second glance, of course.
posted by Decani at 4:56 AM on March 12, 2011


ugh. MAKE IT STOP!!!!

christian co-option of pop culture is THE WORST. for example, family force 5. christian crunk rock. with big production budgets. FRIGHTENING.
posted by molecicco at 5:34 AM on March 12, 2011


> So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?"

3. ?
4. Profit!!!
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:58 AM on March 12, 2011


But you need to realize that young moms, and old ladies, and tea party white bald guys, and snotty nosed kids, and boring middleaged couples....the body of Christ is made up of many different types of people whose purpose is to follow Jesus, not trends. As Paul bluntly put it, we preach Christ, and him crucified. That's it. Trying selfconsciously to be trendy is first, ridiculous, and second of all, cliquish in the extreme.

Actually, though, it sounds like this movement "happened" as a re-action to a school of thought in Christianity that was focused just as hard on appearances. The parents and elders of these kids were sort of creating their own "trends" themselves as well, or at least embracing one, and holding that up as "typically wholesome Christian-approved". And the seeds of this movement came from exactly the kind of "the body of Christ accepts people of all stripes" philosophy you're talking about -- people who realized, "it's possible to be both a Christian and be a fan of The Decembrists" or "it's possible to hate Thomas Kincaide andstill be a good Christian". The movement goes past appearances, as well ("it's totally valid to be a Green Party member and be a good Christian"), of course.

The thing is what you say about "trying selfconsciously to be trendy" has a point, though -- although I would argue that the real problem is with people trying selfconsciously to be anything. The people who try to adopt a hipster persona to "fit in" are just as mistaken as are the people who urge others to shun certain kinds of music or art because it's "not Godly enough". It's okay to personally not like a certain band, but preaching that it's "ungodly", or looking down your nose at people who do like it? That sounds just as much "missing the point" as "let's get American Apparel to design t-shirts for us instead of priests' robes".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:27 AM on March 12, 2011 [5 favorites]


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?
Sister Act.
posted by dougrayrankin at 6:35 AM on March 12, 2011 [7 favorites]


Tangentially....the issue of "gluten-free Communion" is actually something that's been on the Catholic Church's radar for a while now. In 2003, there actually was a Papal statement about this - Pope Benedict re-affirmed the specific technical definitions of the specific foodstuffs that the communion wafer must be:

for bread to be valid matter for the Eucharist, it must be made solely of wheat; contain enough gluten to effect the confection of bread; be free of foreign materials and unaffected by any preparation or baking methods which would alter its nature. The amount of gluten necessary for validity in such bread is not determined by minimum percentage or weight, though hosts which have no gluten are considered invalid matter for Mass. In the Roman Rite, the bread prepared for the Eucharist must also be unleavened.

So gluten-free Communion is out -- but some low-gluten Communion Wafers are okay.

However, the same letter instead stated that for people with gluten-free diets who were for whatever reason unable to take Communion in the form of the host, they could just have the wine part and that would still "count".

Interestingly, there's a convent in Missouri that's hit upon a recipe for "low-gluten" Communion wafers -- part of their mission was baking official communion wafers for other churches, and the sisters there decided to try experimenting with a recipe that would fit the requirements for "ingredients for a wafer" set by the church, but also be medically okay for celiac sufferers. They've now got a weird sort of cottage industry turning out these super-low-gluten wafers that parishes can special-order if they need them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:42 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


What would happen if Christ ate a wafer?
posted by five fresh fish at 6:58 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


Nothing. You are what you eat.
posted by Anything at 7:01 AM on March 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I keep wanting to sing Wang Chung, but I think the line is really "cool.. on... craze", which at least actually rhymes, anyway.
posted by dirtdirt at 7:02 AM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


But you need to realize that young moms, and old ladies, and tea party white bald guys, and snotty nosed kids, and boring middleaged couples....the body of Christ is made up of many different types of people whose purpose is to follow Jesus, not trends. As Paul bluntly put it, we preach Christ, and him crucified. That's it. Trying selfconsciously to be trendy is first, ridiculous, and second of all, cliquish in the extreme.

Actually, though, it sounds like this movement "happened" as a re-action to a school of thought in Christianity that was focused just as hard on appearances. The parents and elders of these kids were sort of creating their own "trends" themselves as well, or at least embracing one, and holding that up as "typically wholesome Christian-approved". And the seeds of this movement came from exactly the kind of "the body of Christ accepts people of all stripes" philosophy you're talking about -- people who realized, "it's possible to be both a Christian and be a fan of The Decembrists" or "it's possible to hate Thomas Kincaide andstill be a good Christian". The movement goes past appearances, as well ("it's totally valid to be a Green Party member and be a good Christian"), of course.

The thing is what you say about "trying selfconsciously to be trendy" has a point, though -- although I would argue that the real problem is with people trying selfconsciously to be anything. The people who try to adopt a hipster persona to "fit in" are just as mistaken as are the people who urge others to shun certain kinds of music or art because it's "not Godly enough". It's okay to personally not like a certain band, but preaching that it's "ungodly", or looking down your nose at people who do like it? That sounds just as much "missing the point" as "let's get American Apparel to design t-shirts for us instead of priests' robes"


Actually I don't disagree with you at all. But when I see church leaders selfconsciously try to ape these trends-and believe me I do-it makes me wanna hurl. It doesn't make us relevant. It makes us fake. By all means be who you are when you come thru the door-God likes variety, and hating Thomas Kincaide stuff doesn't send you to hell (good thing because then I'd be going there *wink*) but....I hate phony in whatever disguise it shows up in.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 8:08 AM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I, for one, have been eagerly awaiting this development. Isn't it time to stop repeating this malicious caricature about hipsters being completely "ironic" about everything? Maybe hipsterdom has secretly been a kind of religious grasping for truth all along. I think you can see it like that. There are connections to draw towards apophatic theology, zen's emptiness of concepts, etc. I think about Jack Kerouac:
beat doesn’t mean tired or bushed or beat up so much as it means beato, the Italian for beatific: to be in a state of beatitude, like St. Francis, trying to love all life, trying to be utterly sincere with everyone, practicing endurance, kindness, cultivating joy of heart. (The question is), how can this be done in our mad modern world of multiplicities and millions?
This sermon seems enlightening: Beats and Beatitudes by Rev. Thomas A. Sweet. If we're going to criticize hipsters for being glib and ironic, shouldn't we take them seriously?
posted by mbrock at 8:51 AM on March 12, 2011 [4 favorites]


CHRIS
Hey. I like your tattoo.

HANNAH
Cool. Thanks.

CHRIS
Yeah. I was thinking about getting one. Vaguely Middle Eastern tattoos are all the rage nowadays.

HANNAH
For sure. I think it’s Armenian, or Jordanian…

CHRIS
Could be Kuwaiti.

HANNAH
Yeah. (She puts on her headphones).

CHRIS
Whatcha listening to?

HANNAH
Pat Robertson.

CHRIS
Nuh-uh.

HANNAH
Yeah. Post-irony.

CHRIS
Oh. Cool. I hear Stryper is playing tomorrow night at Agape.

HANNAH
Oh, that new church?

CHRIS
I think it’s a bar.

HANNAH
Oh, cool. I’m like so there.

CHRIS
Yeah. Me too. Wanna go look at what appears to be a music video?

HANNAH
Yeah. That sounds hip.
posted by Human's Nephew at 9:21 AM on March 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


"Jesus was a Capricorn, he ate organic foods.
He believed in love and peace and never wore no shoes.
Long hair, beard and sandals and a funky bunch of friends.
Reckon they'd just nail him up if He come down again."


Kris Kristofferson - apropos of something or other
posted by philip-random at 9:30 AM on March 12, 2011


"But why, then, should we get enraged by a subsection of Christians who abhor and discard that same oppressiveness?"

Please provide evidence that this is occurring. See TrialByMedia above.
posted by sneebler at 9:53 AM on March 12, 2011


Upthread "Belshazzar" by The Wilders is a cover of an old Johnny Cash song - one of the first he pitched to Sam Phillips at his first Sun Records audition.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 10:10 AM on March 12, 2011


On reflection, these hipster christians must LOVE Johnny Cash's gospel stuff. Huh.
posted by Pickman's Next Top Model at 10:12 AM on March 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Can't front on Cash (well, I mean, sure you can--it's a long and mixed career, and, just to pick the low-hanging fruit, I think Rick Rubin might have given him some bad advice, song-selection-wise), but I mostly go for Numero and Mississippi Records compilations, your Goodbye Babylons and American Primitives, that kind of stuff.

(I'm neither a Christian nor a hipster, but they've both got some good music.)
posted by box at 10:34 AM on March 12, 2011


Here Lies the Church, from Ur-Hipster Christian Pastor John Rydgren.
posted by klangklangston at 11:36 AM on March 12, 2011




it's like these people were made in a test tube over in the Metafilter Labs

$20 SAIT
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 1:52 PM on March 12, 2011


In keeping with the overarching "avoid doing what everyone else is doing" motif of hipsterdom at large...

I kinda had to stop reading right there.
posted by Devils Rancher at 2:02 PM on March 12, 2011


𝔍𝔲𝔰𝔱 𝔰𝔬 𝔶𝔬𝔲 𝔤𝔲𝔶𝔰 𝔨𝔫𝔬𝔴, ℑ 𝔡𝔬𝔫'𝔱 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔩𝔩𝔶 𝔢𝔵𝔦𝔰𝔱. 𝔊𝔬 𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔯𝔶 𝔞𝔟𝔬𝔲𝔱 𝔰𝔬𝔪𝔢𝔱𝔥𝔦𝔫𝔤 𝔯𝔢𝔞𝔩 𝔣𝔬𝔯 𝔞 𝔠𝔥𝔞𝔫𝔤𝔢!
posted by dunkadunc at 3:42 PM on March 13, 2011


-𝔊𝔬𝔡
posted by dunkadunc at 3:42 PM on March 13, 2011


Use Helvetica fonts as much as possible.

Reject false prophets. And Arial.
posted by Skeptic at 9:33 AM on March 14, 2011


I came here to share RAINBOW JESUS FEVER.
posted by mippy at 9:43 AM on March 14, 2011


So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Chrispsters?
posted by thinkpiece at 10:33 AM on March 14, 2011


I missed this thread about combining hipster values with Christ because I was flying interstate to see The Hold Steady.

I'm pretty sure this is ironic?
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:10 PM on March 14, 2011


Please tell me that they travel to South America to go to heavy metal churches , but that they only do so ironically.

John Darnielle. pretty sure he's a Christian. know he's a metalhead

man most of the music i love could be described as 'Christian hipster' music. though i missed Sufjan 'cause i was broke
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 6:17 PM on March 14, 2011


We've come full circle.
posted by telstar at 8:22 PM on March 22, 2011


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