Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Peter T Chattaway

Hipster Christianity

Recommended Posts

Indeed. Still, by her own admission, she hasn't read the book yet.

For full disclosure, I haven’t fully read Hipster Christianity yet – just extended excerpts (thank you Amazon “look inside”), summaries and reviews and articles and blog posts McCracken has written.

But, to be fair, also by her own admission in the comments to that same blog post, she has read "about 75% of the book."

I’ve read about 75% of the book. more than most official reviewers and far more than people who write copy for the book or endorse it. I just thought honesty and admitting that I do not have a physical copy of the book in my possession would be best. But it’s interesting to see that used as the excuse to not engage ideas or address the questions raised.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

FWIW, I just discovered that we had a thread on Brian McLaren's A New Kind of Christian seven years ago -- you can check it out here -- but it wandered fairly quickly into other tangents. (And the fact that certain people have since deleted all of their A&F posts means that the tangents occupy an even greater percentage of the thread now than they used to.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"But it wandered into other tangents" seems to be a hallmark (and not necessarily a negative one) of these discussions, McLaren in particular.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Andy Whitman wrote:

: 3) Belief before belonging

: This is a criticism of the traditional practice of requiring people to have right doctrine before they are accepted into the body of the church. Doctrine is the gatekeeper for community.

Um, how is this a problem? Especially if Emergents are going to criticize the modernist church for having dispositions that are "antithetical to Christianity"? Don't you have to have, y'know, some sort of Christian doctrine on your side if you are going to make that sort of critique?

Before someone signs up for baptism, shouldn't they have a sense of what they're signing up for? Isn't this what catechism is all about?

Yes, but this is an expression of precedence. It says that one precedes (or should precede) the other. It doesn't say that doctrine is unimportant. It says that the focus should be on a welcoming community. I could write a massive tome on this, but I'll try to restrain myself. Emergent thinking focuses on the process of becoming and living as a Christian. It assumes that belief and practice change and grow over time. Good thing, too. When I "became" a Christian (in the Four Spiritual Laws/Pray the Jesus Prayer sense), my understanding of Christian doctrine, even basic Christian doctrine, was extremely limited. Furthermore, I carried in a load of baggage from living as a hedonistic sensualist that was antithetical to Christian living. A couple decades down the line I was still toting around some of that baggage, and to this day I still show up in front of a group of people and say things like, "My name is Andy, and I'm an addict." Was I a Christian back in 1975, when my doctrine was little more than "Fuck it, I give up"? How about six or seven years ago, when I was endangering my life, my marriage, and my family and doing stupid things that I couldn't seem to help doing?

There is a time for confession of orthodox Christian doctrine. Before one is baptized is certainly one of those times. But even then it's completely unclear to me how much the people making the orthodox doctrinal statements really believe them, or how much those statements have been allowed to transform their lives, or what longstanding issues may stand in the way of them fully appropriating the truths of those statements. I simply have no idea, and I'm content to let God sort it out.

In the meantime, and the meantime extends for several decades in my case, I'm very thankful for a welcoming community of Christians who embrace people who don't have it together, either doctrinally or in terms of lifestyle. Most churches don't allow for mess. It simply isn't addressed, or if it is addressed, it's assumed to be something left in the rear-view mirror of the pagan past. My experience is that the mess goes on and on. And so I want to be in a church that acknowledges the mess, that talks about it openly, that allows people to process, and that loves them every step of the way. This assumes that some of the people in the church will not be Christians. It also assumes that most if not all of the Christians there will be dealing with sin in their lives. Repentance is good. Spiritual formation is good. Growing in understanding and knowledge is good. And those things should be happening as well. But in the meantime all those screwed up non-Christians and Christians will be hearing the same teachings I'm hearing, they'll be part of the same community that serves together and loves one another. And if or when it comes time for them to be baptized, then they will affirm their Christian beliefs, to whatever extent they understand them, and then we will go on loving them and praying that the transformation continues.

: 4) Uncontextualized Worship

: Worship has been too far removed from the culture of the people who are worshiping and instead preserves a culture of a different day and age that is increasingly irrelevant.

And so we come back to the question of "relevance" and whether the church needs to be "cool", a la the hipsters.

The opposite of "irrelevant" is not "hip." One can be relevant in the sense that the members of the church can relate to the proceedings. It doesn't imply trendiness, and it certainly doesn't imply coolness, whatever that would be.

: 6) Weak Ecclesiology

: Traditional top-down church structures and inflexible methodologies have affected the Church's missional effectiveness.

It's almost amusing to think that the Emergents would criticize anyone else for having a "weak ecclesiology". Especially if they don't think church membership (or membership in their movement, which may or may not be the same thing) has certain basic requirements, like having the right doctrine.

It's a different definition. By your definition, of course, Emergent ecclesiology is weak. People may or may not have to pass the doctrinal and/or denominational litmus tests. I'm okay with that. My experience has been that most churches devote most of their time and energy to preserving the status quo -- the denominational disctinctives, the church property, the church committees, the church polity. There's nothing inherently wrong with any of those things. They just sap the life out of people because they then have no time and energy left for loving the unlovely (outside of fellow board members) and getting outside the church walls and serving the world through radical acts of unconditional caring. I'm all for minimal structure and organization.

Edited by Andy Whitman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

This is actually a good observation on his part. He is restating for the cool/hipster model what is actually a key to present day church growth theory (and might, might be abusing it a little to make the idea relevant to cool/hipsterism). What I sense is his general point is to be authentic as a fellowship, not to strive to "be something" or acquire particular attractive, or perceived attractive characteristics. My old church is, to some extent, trying to do the latter to sustain a demographic that it perceives is crucial to longterm survival. It is NOT hip and NOT striving to be such. It is more on the relevant continuum for its , shall we say, loud service.

We at St. John's are somewhat of the former. We do what we do and we do it well. But to change how we perceive those "not yet part of our fellowship" and to be of concern for them other than in the abstract, or as a "ministry" is not how an anglo-catholic does things at all. We do this because it is the RIGHT way and the beautiful way to honor the Lord. To change our reasons for doing things the way we do is out of the question. To continue to do what we do, but with a concern for those souls not yet touched by God's grace and to be concerned for those needing to be discipled, whether they are able to support themselves or not is beyond the imagination of many in the parish. Contributing time and wealth to the care of the less fortunate is fine. That's a ministry project. To do that and minister spiritually to them at the same time, right here. AUUGGHH!

Finally, on the precisely hipster/cool point he's making. At some point in his maturity as a man, a hipster, or a guy conscious of the hip who chooses to keep an eye on it but not necessarily embrace it totally, will realize that it might be more comfortable to embrace aspects of what has been hip over time as part of a conscious personal style that is authentic for him. His "way" of seeing and being. In some sort of way, McCracken is suggesting that fellowships should be concerned about this as they worship and honor the Lord corporately, rather than being consciously hip.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yet I wish I got some sense that Brett had some awareness of the numerous critiques of the notion of "authenticity" that have been a central part of the music crit. discourse especially in hte last 5-10 years. There's a naive realism I see in his description of what is "real". I think John Wilson saw it too.

The problem that I just don't see Brett dealing with is the fact that some of the cultural dissent we see in churches is an outgrowth of real legitimate theological and ecclesiological dissent that needs to be taken seriously. And sometimes cultural changes stem from an attempt to sublimate and domesticate cultural dissent. (We'll let you swear if you promise not to stray from our views on Christology, etc). I've yet to see evidence that Brett takes that countersubversive element of it seriously enough to be able to name what their central concerns are. Those wading deeper into the book, tell me, am I wrong?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the book, but as exhausting as this topic is, it's an interesting debate to have among people who have options between the "cool church" and "other" churches. I've been up in Maine for several days and have worshipped at two different congregations, one of which meets around a table in the church basement because there's too few people to fill the sanctuary upstairs. The other did meet in the sanctuary, even though it had about the same number of woshippers as the first church. Almost everyone there was a senior citizen, or close to it. The first church had a few families with children (including the pastor's), but it was described as "dying" by folks at the other congregation. And it probably is.

Makes debates like this one seem, if not exactly irrelevant, then ... beside the point? I don't know. It seems like having this debate is a luxury for many Christians. Communities like the one I've been staying in are seeing the slow, painful death of one congregation after another, and young people aren't replenishing the congregations. Younger people, in general, are leaving this area, and they aren't coming back. How does "Hipster Christianity" address the problem of rural flight?

Maybe the "hipster" debate has something to say about how those congregations might attract younger members, or maybe it can warn them about methods that don't work. But I'm not sure those methods haven't been tried already, and failed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M. Leary   
And sometimes cultural changes stem from an attempt to sublimate and domesticate cultural dissent. (We'll let you swear if you promise not to stray from our views on Christology, etc). I've yet to see evidence that Brett takes that countersubversive element of it seriously enough to be able to name what their central concerns are. Those wading deeper into the book, tell me, am I wrong?

I haven't finished it yet, but I believe you are wrong - though granted, he doesn't get to that stuff until the end of the book.

He doesn't actually get to it at all. I have had an interesting time reading Henry's Uneasy Conscience for the umpteenth time alongside this book, and it is startling to see that the ideological confusions inherent to McCracken's book are the very ones that Henry campaigns against in his book - which was written in 1947.

One problem I see with a lot of negative responses (the bulk of which I heartily agree with) is that I think we expect this book to do a lot of heavy lifting. It has been marketed this way. But McCracken is relatively young. He doesn't seem interested or schooled in the recent history of evangelicalism with respect to contemporary theology. As a result, this book is simply doesn't converse or interact with the "real legitimate theological and ecclesiological dissent" that is on the table in evangelical and mainline discussion.

It is simply a devotional book written to an audience that has found it edifying in that capacity. Anything of substance it has to say to its reader occurs in the vernacular of Christian exhortation. I don't agree with the thrust of his exhortation, given that it is built on a muddled foundation. But I think the book belongs in that hodgepodge "practical" section of your library regardless.

An aside: I get to the end of this book and wonder aloud, "So what about David Dark's Everyday Apocalypse? Is David Dark, the pop-culture wonderer extraordinaire, cool?" Hipster Christianity can't handle that question. It doesn't compute.

Edited by M. Leary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M. Leary   
It seems like having this debate is a luxury for many Christians.

Thanks for this. I think you hit the nail on the head. There is perennial reference in some streams of contemporary theology to certain theological debates that exist as a form of luxury in contexts like North America. This kind of cultural identity debate smacks of the economic isolation and privilege that characterizes American Christianity and its conversations. One could just as easily write a book about the consumption patterns of 20-30 year olds in evangelical churches as a critique of their identity confusion.

I am currently teaching courses at a college/seminary in Sydney, Australia. The people in this course are hard at work planting and pastoring churches in this intensely post-Christian context, and even though I did my last stint of theological education in a very similar environment, it has been a healthy reminder of how the Christian identity functions and develops when stripped of the social buffers we have here in the US. We have little time there to spend on luxury.

Edited by M. Leary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brett is VERY aware that his audience is largely evangelicals who aren't subculturally savvy trying to understand this younger generation of evangelicals so they can best slow the exodus and rein in deviant theological perspectives. If he was really writing primarily for other "hipsters", he would't be marketing the book with appearances on evangelical radio and the 700 club.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please don't stop! I've loved your contributions!

I think what Brett contributes is an identification of a phenomenon that we've all noticed but until now has mostly been discussed among its own practitioners. That IS a valuable contribution. That Brett doesn't follow up this with a more serious unpacking of the different forces that animate cultural identity is a failure but it doesn't make the book valueless. I hope it creates some terrain for more pointed discussion to follow.

Brett's problem, I think, is that he's too close to the phenomenon he's observing.

Susan Sontag memorably wrote:

...no one who wholeheartedly shares in a given sensibility can analyze it; he can only, whatever his intention, exhibit it. To name a sensibility, to draw its contours and to recount its history, requires a deep sympathy modified by revulsion.

I may have already posted that but it bears repeating.

Edited by Holy Moly!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the book, but as exhausting as this topic is, it's an interesting debate to have among people who have options between the "cool church" and "other" churches. I've been up in Maine for several days and have worshipped at two different congregations, one of which meets around a table in the church basement because there's too few people to fill the sanctuary upstairs. The other did meet in the sanctuary, even though it had about the same number of woshippers as the first church. Almost everyone there was a senior citizen, or close to it. The first church had a few families with children (including the pastor's), but it was described as "dying" by folks at the other congregation. And it probably is.

Makes debates like this one seem, if not exactly irrelevant, then ... beside the point? I don't know. It seems like having this debate is a luxury for many Christians. Communities like the one I've been staying in are seeing the slow, painful death of one congregation after another, and young people aren't replenishing the congregations. Younger people, in general, are leaving this area, and they aren't coming back. How does "Hipster Christianity" address the problem of rural flight?

But in the service of talking to himself, or folks like him (and it might be exceedingly light/practical talk) he is still talking of things that all churches not on a spiking upward trajectory are worried about. Not necessarily getting "the kids" to come or to stay, so much as getting more folks to come to their church. Maybe the hipster part is a luxury, but the real concern is the cloud to the silver lining of the luxury of the North American evangelical ecclesial experience.

My church was one of the churches you have seen in Maine. We got bigger, now we are sliding again. Magic bullets are magic bullets whether they are Church Fairs with midways and beer tents (we've been trying to do this. haven't yet), glorified U2 concerts for the hip worship, affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV, or whathaveyou. It still is a program or trick to attract those not yet worshipping with you, or at least a financial stream until others find you. Nothing has changed except the trappings.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I haven't read the book, but as exhausting as this topic is, it's an interesting debate to have among people who have options between the "cool church" and "other" churches. I've been up in Maine for several days and have worshipped at two different congregations, one of which meets around a table in the church basement because there's too few people to fill the sanctuary upstairs. The other did meet in the sanctuary, even though it had about the same number of woshippers as the first church. Almost everyone there was a senior citizen, or close to it. The first church had a few families with children (including the pastor's), but it was described as "dying" by folks at the other congregation. And it probably is.

Makes debates like this one seem, if not exactly irrelevant, then ... beside the point? I don't know. It seems like having this debate is a luxury for many Christians. Communities like the one I've been staying in are seeing the slow, painful death of one congregation after another, and young people aren't replenishing the congregations. Younger people, in general, are leaving this area, and they aren't coming back. How does "Hipster Christianity" address the problem of rural flight?

But in the service of talking to himself, or folks like him (and it might be exceedingly light/practical talk) he is still talking of things that all churches not on a spiking upward trajectory are worried about. Not necessarily getting "the kids" to come or to stay, so much as getting more folks to come to their church. Maybe the hipster part is a luxury, but the real concern is the cloud to the silver lining of the luxury of the North American evangelical ecclesial experience.

My church was one of the churches you have seen in Maine. We got bigger, now we are sliding again. Magic bullets are magic bullets whether they are Church Fairs with midways and beer tents (we've been trying to do this. haven't yet), glorified U2 concerts for the hip worship, affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV, or whathaveyou. It still is a program or trick to attract those not yet worshipping with you, or at least a financial stream until others find you. Nothing has changed except the trappings.

Or, alternately, it's biblical Christianity. At least some of us would like to think so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would agree that striving to grow one's fellowship is a biblical and christian desire. Being progressive, moderate, or conservative on political issues is not necessarily biblical. Being what once was called co-belligerent can be. Church fairs with beer tents are a trick. Or at least pure fund raising.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I would agree that striving to grow one's fellowship is a biblical and christian desire. Being progressive, moderate, or conservative on political issues is not necessarily biblical. Being what once was called co-belligerent can be. Church fairs with beer tents are a trick. Or at least pure fund raising.

But here's where I want to push back. A large part of what I'm reacting to here, both with Brett's book, and with some of the statements I've seen in the ensuing comments, is the very terminology used to frame the discussion, whether that terminology involves "hipsters" or "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV." The terminology itself is dismissive, and serves to marginalize what is really going on.

"Hipsters" is a fashion label, nothing more nor less, and it does nothing to address the underlying motivations of those who might fit the stereotype in a superficial way. And "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV" puts the political cart before the theological horse. There is a movement afoot here that is reformational in nature. It says that there is much wrong with the evangelical church, and it seeks to redress those wrongs. It is not a leftist political agenda intended as a counterbalance to the perceived rightist political agenda of much of the evangelical church. It is intended as a biblical corrective. These are not issues of the left or right, socialists or capitalists. These are fundamental issues concerning what it means to live as a Christian. And when Brett labels, say, an effort to eradicate human trafficking as "trendy," the purview of hipsters, which he does, he marginalizes and mischaracterizes what is really going on, which is an insistence on the fundamental dignity of human beings made in the image of God, and who should not be objectified, commodified, and enslaved. Of course there are political dimensions to this issue. Laws need to be changed. But the fundamental nature of the issue is not political. It is theological. It is rooted in a desire for God's perspective -- His Kingdom, if you will -- to prevail on earth.

We have to be careful about the terms we use. The words matter, because they can convey a twisted perspective. I wish someone would write the book Brett didn't write; the one that truly delves into why so many young peoople have abandoned the Evangelical Church. And it has very little to do with tattoos and piercings.

Edited by Andy Whitman

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But here's where I want to push back. A large part of what I'm reacting to here, both with Brett's book, and with some of the statements I've seen in the ensuing comments, is the very terminology used to frame the discussion, whether that terminology involves "hipsters" or "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV." The terminology itself is dismissive, and serves to marginalize what is really going on.

Heh, heh. It's nice to be quoted. This may be true. I wasn't being dismissive, so much as commenting on what I've seen and heard of guys like Boyd, McLaren, and [sub-senior moment]the guy who has run Sojourners and runs with the Dems[/sub-senior moment] have been saying for years. This in the context of progressive evangelical derisive dismissal of religious right POV's and smearing anyone who holds any of those views in common with same. A little dismissive license could be permitted. The discussion between evangelical progressives and evangelical right, if there has been one, has largely been on the progressive's turf and maybe because of progressive dismissal of the other made such discussion on whatever turf available at the time.

"Hipsters" is a fashion label, nothing more nor less, and it does nothing to address the underlying motivations of those who might fit the stereotype in a superficial way. And "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV" puts the political cart before the theological horse. There is a movement afoot here that is reformational in nature. It says that there is much wrong with the evangelical church, and it seeks to redress those wrongs. It is not a leftist political agenda intended as a counterbalance to the perceived rightist political agenda of much of the evangelical church.

Full disclosure, I don't read much of the evangelical left these days because of its dismissive and hostile attitude towards anyone deigning to disagree. That being said, I don't see evidence of this on the part of leaders of the evangelical left. What I've seen is not really a biblical corrective, so much as a hermaneutic easily countered, if a hermaneutic presents itself. A biblical exegesis that sticks with some of the Gospels and minor prophets to suit the point at hand. It reads like more of the same from so long ago. Now. You and your church and some allied with it might sing a different tune. That's great. But it ain't The Evangelical Left. At best, it is laudable, but not there yet.

It is intended as a biblical corrective. These are not issues of the left or right, socialists or capitalists. These are fundamental issues concerning what it means to live as a Christian. And when Brett labels, say, an effort to eradicate human trafficking as "trendy," the purview of hipsters, which he does, he marginalizes and mischaracterizes what is really going on, which is an insistence on the fundamental dignity of human beings made in the image of God, and who should not be objectified, commodified, and enslaved. Of course there are political dimensions to this issue. Laws need to be changed. But the fundamental nature of the issue is not political. It is theological. It is rooted in a desire for God's perspective -- His Kingdom, if you will -- to prevail on earth.

Nice. I mean really nice. You mention a cause that the religious right in concert with conservative Catholics have been pushing since late in the Clinton administration. Now THIS is something that progressive evangelicals and religious rightists can work together on. McCracken take the hindmost. Other than that, there will always be plenty of folks uncomfortable with millenial reign on earth arguments for activism now. And they don't have to be Dispensationalists either. That's a divide that will probably never close.

We have to be careful about the terms we use. The words matter, because they can convey a twisted perspective. I wish someone would write the book Brett didn't write; the one that truly delves into why so many young peoople have abandoned the Evangelical Church. And it has very little to do with tattoos and piercings.

What, write a book on young people being young people? We both have watched a few generations leave and maybe come back. This is more than just politics, or polity. And more than costuming too.

Edited by Rich Kennedy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But here's where I want to push back. A large part of what I'm reacting to here, both with Brett's book, and with some of the statements I've seen in the ensuing comments, is the very terminology used to frame the discussion, whether that terminology involves "hipsters" or "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV." The terminology itself is dismissive, and serves to marginalize what is really going on.

Heh, heh. It's nice to be quoted. This may be true. I wasn't being dismissive, so much as commenting on what I've seen and heard of guys like Boyd, McLaren, and [sub-senior moment]the guy who has run Sojourners and runs with the Dems[/sub-senior moment] have been saying for years. This in the context of progressive evangelical derisive dismissal of religious right POV's and smearing anyone who holds any of those views in common with same. A little dismissive license could be permitted. The discussion between evangelical progressives and evangelical right, if there has been one, has largely been on the progressive's turf and maybe because of progressive dismissal of the other made such discussion on whatever turf available at the time.

I don't know...I saw a lot of smearing and being dismissive of the concept of "progressive Christians" in Church growing up. The Religious Left's dismissiveness often struck me as a reaction to the Religious Right and the Moral Majority's dismissiveness of those Christians who dared question their agenda-even if they shared the same basic values. So it really becomes "which came first?" ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But here's where I want to push back. A large part of what I'm reacting to here, both with Brett's book, and with some of the statements I've seen in the ensuing comments, is the very terminology used to frame the discussion, whether that terminology involves "hipsters" or "affecting an ironic distance from evangelicalism with a leftie social/cultural POV." The terminology itself is dismissive, and serves to marginalize what is really going on.

Heh, heh. It's nice to be quoted. This may be true. I wasn't being dismissive, so much as commenting on what I've seen and heard of guys like Boyd, McLaren, and [sub-senior moment]the guy who has run Sojourners and runs with the Dems[/sub-senior moment] have been saying for years. This in the context of progressive evangelical derisive dismissal of religious right POV's and smearing anyone who holds any of those views in common with same. A little dismissive license could be permitted. The discussion between evangelical progressives and evangelical right, if there has been one, has largely been on the progressive's turf and maybe because of progressive dismissal of the other made such discussion on whatever turf available at the time.

I don't know...I saw a lot of smearing and being dismissive of the concept of "progressive Christians" in Church growing up. The Religious Left's dismissiveness often struck me as a reaction to the Religious Right and the Moral Majority's dismissiveness of those Christians who dared question their agenda-even if they shared the same basic values. So it really becomes "which came first?" ;)

I'd like to leave the left and march right on by the right. That would be true progress for the progressives. I'm so sick of these labels. Nor do I care who came first. They continue to frame the discussion in the wrong terms. I hate to type in all caps. Really I do. But THIS IS NOT ABOUT POLITICS.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, Andy and I are agreed (and e2c too). This must not be about politics. But it creeps in all the time, sadly. It is hard to resist. Andy hints at it in his post after the caps. The right, NO!, conservative evangelicals find it just as hard to resist. Maybe it creeps in unintentionally bacause of the way spokespeople phrase their messages. I heard politics all over McLaren's talk that I linked to. Reaction to his concept of hideous politics as a reason to trump concern over orthodox theology. No one is careful to denude their rhetoric of political cant or aggressiveness. It is the language of the day in secular society. This too is something against which good folks of faith, hipster or not, should work. But I suspect that if something is in reaction to perceived political overreach, it will necessarily have an a priori political component. Maybe evangelicalism of all hues will mature when evangelicalism grows out of reacting to what evangelicals are compelled to react to and just be.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, Andy and I are agreed (and e2c too). This must not be about politics. But it creeps in all the time, sadly. It is hard to resist. Andy hints at it in his post after the caps. The right, NO!, conservative evangelicals find it just as hard to resist. Maybe it creeps in unintentionally bacause of the way spokespeople phrase their messages. I heard politics all over McLaren's talk that I linked to. Reaction to his concept of hideous politics as a reason to trump concern over orthodox theology. No one is careful to denude their rhetoric of political cant or aggressiveness. It is the language of the day in secular society. This too is something against which good folks of faith, hipster or not, should work. But I suspect that if something is in reaction to perceived political overreach, it will necessarily have an a priori political component. Maybe evangelicalism of all hues will mature when evangelicalism grows out of reacting to what evangelicals are compelled to react to and just be.

Christians of all stripes and all political persuasions can work to do good in the world, one person at a time if need be. And perhaps that's a preferable approach to thinking that we, as the body of Christ, will solve massive societal problems if we just vote for Candidate X or Y. It hasn't worked yet, but we keep trying it, and we keep getting screwed. I include myself on all counts. And we never seem to learn.

Without meaning to sound like some "back to the Bible" thumper, surely there are enough ethical causes where we can work together. I'm so thoroughly sick of the culture wars, and the shrieking, and the finger pointing. And I include myself in that area as well. Rather than seeking the ideal political solution, I would be happier if we sought to do good. It would at least be a decent start.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Christianity Today has posted their "hipster" package:

To remain relevant, many evangelical pastors are following the lead of hipster trendsetters. So what happens when 'cool' meets Christ?

Brett McCracken,
Christianity Today
, September 3

A sidebar to CT's cover story on 'Hipster Faith.'

Christianity Today
, September 3

How Christians of the past 50 years have garnered countercultural street cred.

Ted Olsen,
Christianity Today
, September 3

Or, how to be a truly ironic hipster.

Ted Olsen,
Christianity Today
, September 3

Andy Whitman wrote:

: It's a different definition. By your definition, of course, Emergent ecclesiology is weak. People may or may not have to pass the doctrinal and/or denominational litmus tests. I'm okay with that. My experience has been that most churches devote most of their time and energy to preserving the status quo -- the denominational disctinctives, the church property, the church committees, the church polity.

None of which strikes me as particularly "ecclesiological". So I agree that a church that focuses on nothing more than church-board politics would have a basically weak ecclesiology too. But I'm not talking church-board politics, I'm talking theology. And if emergents think they can have a stronger ecclesiology by disdaining theological definitions ... then they will end up with a lot of church politics.

And yes, most families spend a lot of time on rent/mortgages and errands and taking the kids to school ... and this sometimes saps our energy and gets in the way of our ability to connect with people outside our homes ... but it doesn't mean we should distance ourselves from "family" or a proper understanding thereof.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
M. Leary   

b]Spotlight: Before We Were Hipsters

How Christians of the past 50 years have garnered countercultural street cred.

Ted Olsen, Christianity Today, September 3

Does this timeline bother anyone else? I am just not seeing how we go from Schaeffer to Paste to the Emergent Church. The comparison in the green box between "hipster Christianity" and Uneasy Conscience is particularly galling, as it is terrible inaccurate.

I am just not seeing how this passes muster.

An aside: The confusion that has led to the creation and editorial approval of this timeline stands in stark distinction to this month's Books and Culture cover.

sepoct.jpg

Edited by M. Leary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
SDG   
But I'm not talking church-board politics, I'm talking theology. And if emergents think they can have a stronger ecclesiology by disdaining theological definitions ... then they will end up with a lot of church politics.

There is something truly lovely and poetic about these two sentences, and the way they snap shut like a steel trap in the end. I just wanted to point that out.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×