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Peter T Chattaway

Hipster Christianity

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Here's The New Yorker blog on the book and the issue of CT. The CT team must be thrilled. I can't remember the last time an issue of CT had received so much press.

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Joel   

The New Yorker blogger writes "This doesn't read like irony to me but like necessity." That's a nice take on the whole idea, I think.

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Well, yeah... that was kind of the punchline.

In retrospect, I wish that had been my reaction from the beginning.

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Here's one that someone pointed out to me, in which the reviewer sees the hipsters described in this book as yet another generation of misguided Christians demonstrating the devil's destruction of the church.

For those wondering if McCracken, managing editor of Biola University’s magazine and regular writer for the emergent Relevant magazine, considers himself a “hipster,” the answer he gives in the introduction of his book is “yes.” He has found resonance with a lot of emerging leaders such as Shane Claiborne, whom McCracken says is ”perhaps one of the most important Christian hipsters around” (p. 99). Other contemplative/emerging advocates whom McCracken includes in his emerging, hipster “Christianity” are Mark Driscoll, Jay Baaker, Donald Miller (Blue Like Jazz), Lauren Winner, and Rob Bell.

McCracken asks the question, where can you find “Christian hipsters” and answers it accurately by saying Christian colleges and Christian college towns (p. 106), now hotbeds for apostasy. Of course, he includes the contemplative promoting Biola in his list of “cool” colleges. McCracken delves into the political arena and explains how “cool” young Christians helped to bring Obama into office (pp. 158-160).

McCracken says this “hip” Christianity identifies with panentheistic New Age mystic Pierre Teilhard de Chardin and says “Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic…. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina…” (p. 98).

While popular emerging church leaders have tried to say that the emerging church is dead (see: Some Say the Emerging Church is Dead – the Truth Behind the Story) (and now hipster is better), nothing has changed. It’s the same ol’ panentheistic deception that Satan presented to Eve in the Garden when he asked her to question God and tempted her in desire to be God.

The Bible says that in the days before Christ returns, there will be great deception. The devil is running like mad, to and fro, trying to confuse, deceive, and manipulate Christians into turning away from the one and only true Gospel message. After all, if Christians preach the true Gospel, people will get saved and spend eternity with the Lord. Hipster Christianity is just the enemy’s latest effort to stop the Gospel from being proclaimed.

Don’t be fooled, Hipster Christianity isn’t “cool” at all – it is lukewarm spirituality, and from such we should steer clear of.

Sigh. Now someone else thinks that Driscoll, Baaker, Miller, Winner, and Bell are all part of the same group, and that they and their work should be thrown out as evidence of a superficial and destructive "trend."

But it was worth reading just to encounter the phrase "from such we should steer clear of."

Edited by Overstreet

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Sigh. Now someone else thinks that Driscoll, Baaker, Miller, Winner, and Bell are all part of the same group, and that they and their work should be thrown out as evidence of a superficial and destructive "trend."

But it was worth reading just to encounter the phrase "from such we should steer clear of."

Oh, Jeffrey. These guys we will also always have with us. This is plain old rigorous and seperatist fundamentalism in somewhat modern dress. If it is any consolation, they don't like Hybels, Warren, and their kind as well. No one but themselves. They don't even like the term "spiritual formation".

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M. Leary   
Oh, Jeffrey. These guys we will also always have with us. This is plain old rigorous and seperatist fundamentalism in somewhat modern dress.

It really is. The review I wrote and refrained from posting anywhere explains that the book fits the descriptive criteria of "fundamentalist" in the classic sense of the term set out by none other than Carl Henry in the book that launched evangelicalism. The irony of CT's recent cover story is stunning in this respect.

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Oh, Jeffrey. These guys we will also always have with us. This is plain old rigorous and seperatist fundamentalism in somewhat modern dress.

It really is. The review I wrote and refrained from posting anywhere explains that the book fits the descriptive criteria of "fundamentalist" in the classic sense of the term set out by none other than Carl Henry in the book that launched evangelicalism. The irony of CT's recent cover story is stunning in this respect.

Please please please post it.

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It really is. The review I wrote and refrained from posting anywhere explains that the book fits the descriptive criteria of "fundamentalist" in the classic sense of the term set out by none other than Carl Henry in the book that launched evangelicalism. The irony of CT's recent cover story is stunning in this respect.

I was actually referring to the blog Jeffrey had linked. Not having read the book, I wouldn't venture such an opinion. The site Jeffrey found has to be seen to be believed (and they are disparaging of McCracken. And BIOLA, and heh, practically any faith movement any of us find ourselves a part of here).

That being said, yes. Post your article please.

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Is your article a response to having read the book? I'm getting tired of reading reviews by folks who haven't read it.

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Persona   

Is your article a response to having read the book? I'm getting tired of reading reviews by folks who haven't read it.

Now all grown up, these writers were the 8th grade kids that turned in book reviews of books they never read.

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M. Leary   
I was actually referring to the blog Jeffrey had linked. Not having read the book, I wouldn't venture such an opinion. The site Jeffrey found has to be seen to be believed (and they are disparaging of McCracken. And BIOLA, and heh, practically any faith movement any of us find ourselves a part of here).

Sorry I wasn't being clearer, Rich. I was just piggy-backing on your comment, as I don't think that what the article you are commenting on and this book are really any different.

Is your article a response to having read the book? I'm getting tired of reading reviews by folks who haven't read it.

Yes, it is a response to the book itself. Like I said earlier, I think it works fine as a devotional, or an extended high-school youth group type exhortation. But otherwise, it gets pretty hairy. I hesitate in submitting it somewhere because I don't know how to interact with something like this without being overly confrontational. Sometimes we need to be this way, but I don't know if this is such an occasion. I think the best response is just go and be a good churchgoer.

Edited by M. Leary

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Persona   

Why don't you just use a pseudonym? Wuss.

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The Sad Science of Hipsterism

Behold the hipster, the stylishly disaffected breed of twentysomethings whose fog of twee whimsy envelops Williamsburg and the East Village. Most who encounter the hipster in its natural habitat respond in one of two ways: derision or ridicule.

But science does not cast judgment. Its goal is to explore and explain dispassionately, whether the object of study be the noble eagle or the lowly nematode. So what does science have to tell us about this fascinatingly misunderstood breed, the indigenous North American hipster?

Surprisingly much.

In a paper in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Consumer Research entitled "Demythologizing Consumption Practices: How Consumers Protect Their Field-

Dependent Identity Investments from Devaluing Marketplace Myths," authors Zeynep Arsel and Craig J. Thompson delve deep into the phenomenon of hipsterism, and in particular its most abiding mystery: if everyone hates hipsters, why would anyone want to be one?

The long and short of it is that they don't.

In general, psychologists who study consumers understand that people are largely motivated to spend money not just on things that they materially need, but that bolster their sense of identity. They purchase not just goods and services, but mythologies. Imagining themselves as rugged, rebellious patriots, they buy a Harley-Davidson. Imagining themselves as respected and well-heeled, they buy a Lexus.

Hipsters, though, follow a different paradigm. Their problem is that their purchases tend to place them within a category whose mythology they despise. That's right: Nobody likes hipsters, not even hipsters. . . .

Arsel and Thompson interviewed hipsters and asked them how they dealt with the problem of being identified as such. The answer, they found, was to "demythologize" the hipster experience, that is, to psychologically reclassify their own behavior as being separate from the aggregate activity that the rest of the world lumps together as "hipster." . . .

The deeper irony is that those who try to assert their independence from the commodification of identity wind up tapping into another marketplace myth, what the authors call "the myth of consumer sovereignty." This is the idea that by assiduously selecting from all the identity markers available for purchase, a person can assemble one that authentically reflects their true self independent of the marketplace. Some of the hipsters that Arsel and Thompson talked to are well aware of the futility of this project. . . .

Psychology Today, September 8

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M. Leary   

I have bit my tongue throughout this thread wanting to say exactly this:

"I would think McCracken is too young to be this cynical. So I suggest something else is at work here: what we have in Hipster Christianity is a jaded ethnography written by someone who spent a youth-group-lifetime trying to be one of the cool kids. As such, it seems he can only imagine someone adopting a hipster lifestyle in order to strike a pose."

But thankfully, Jamie Smith did it without sounding mean. This review provides a lot of helpful context, and jaded is a good word for it. But vindictive also came to mind as I read the book.

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Darren H   

From that Jamie Smith link:

But precisely because McCracken lacks a sufficient theology of culture, and hence lacks any attention to systematic (in)justice, most of the Christian hipsters I know will never read this book; but all of the posers will.

What a great closing sentence.

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On his blog, James K.A. Smith adds,

The review goes in a particular direction, because I think McCracken was asking for it. But I should note that there are some points of overlapping concern. For example, I think McCracken is right to see certain renditions of the emerging church as basically just the successor to Willow-Creekish seeker-sensitivity. And I share his concern about Christian assimilation to cultural trends. We just disagree about what counts as "assimilation."

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Persona   

That is an awesome, awesome article.

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Tyler   

On his blog, McCracken posted an excerpt from a speech he gave at Taylor University in Indiana. I haven't followed the discussion closely enough to know if it's anything different from what he's been saying already, but the comment from Laurel on the site is a good response to him either way.

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M. Leary   

From a recent interview with William Gibson:

What sort of a future that will be, however, remains a mystery to Gibson. There are simply ‘too many wild cards in play,’ he said, for us to casually erect accurate futures. One thing that seemed certain was the sustained threat to any genuine subculture. We are now left, he lamented, with only ‘splinters of Bohemia,’ the violation of which seems almost complete in a world where ‘the way D. H. Lawrence looked is … much more important than what D.H. Lawrence wrote.’

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From a comment left in response to J.K.A. Smith's review:

... you may want to spend more time reading the bible than reading secular authors such as Blake and Dostoevsky.

:lol:

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From a comment left in response to J.K.A. Smith's review:

... you may want to spend more time reading the bible than reading secular authors such as Blake and Dostoevsky.

laugh.gif

Hilarious.

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