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Jewish Journal

Hipness: Good for the Christians?

by Brad A. Greenberg

September 19, 2010 | 4:04 pm

Are you a Christian hipster?

If you’re not sure, you can check out this post from last spring. Or you can check out Brett McCracken’s new book, “Hipster Christianity” or his cover story for this month’s Christianity Today or his column for the Wall Street Journal on the perils of Christian cool.

I’m not a fan of Jeff Foxworthy’s comedy, but you might be a Christian hipster if ... you love Jesus and have tattoos, smoke cloves, sport ironic facial hair, wear lots of flannels, skinny jeans and black-rim glasses when there is nothing wrong with your eyes.

Hipsters have gotten a lot of flak, in part because they lack authenticity. The above video demonstrates that. (DISCLAIMER: Extremely explicit language.) But what unique problems arise from its Christian version, and specifically when churches, smarting from an exodus of young folks, pander to it?

McCracken writes for the Wall Street Journal:

There are various ways that churches attempt to be cool. For some, it means trying to seem more culturally savvy. The pastor quotes Stephen Colbert or references Lady Gaga during his sermon, or a church sponsors a screening of the R-rated “No Country For Old Men.” For others, the emphasis is on looking cool, perhaps by giving the pastor a metrosexual makeover, with skinny jeans and an $80 haircut, or by insisting on trendy eco-friendly paper and helvetica-only fonts on all printed materials. Then there is the option of holding a worship service in a bar or nightclub (as is the case for L.A.‘s Mosaic church, whose downtown location meets at a nightspot called Club Mayan).

“Wannabe cool” Christianity also manifests itself as an obsession with being on the technological cutting edge. Churches like Central Christian in Las Vegas and Liquid Church in New Brunswick, N.J., for example, have online church services where people can have a worship experience at an “iCampus.” Many other churches now encourage texting, Twitter and iPhone interaction with the pastor during their services.

But one of the most popular—and arguably most unseemly—methods of making Christianity hip is to make it shocking. ...

If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.

If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.

What say you?

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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Since launching the blog in 2007, I’ve referred to myself as “a God-fearing Christian with devilishly good Jewish looks.” The description, I’d say, is an accurate one,...

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