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Peter T Chattaway

Hipster Christianity

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The backlash against hipsters has begun

Hipster culture, you may have noticed, has gone global. What started with a few ravers turned graphic designers in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg and Berlin’s Prenzlauer Berg has been successfully marketed and franchised around the world. In a forthcoming collection of essays entitled What Was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation (n+1 press), musician Jace Clayton recalls that while working in Mexico City he met a young film student (rocking a huge mustache) who, when asked about his city, responded dolefully, “My neighbourhood is too … hipstery. So I’m moving to La Roma.”

And so, the backlash has begun. Ironically, no one hates hipsters as much as hipsters themselves, as illustrated by the Onion headline, Two Hipsters Angrily Call Each Other ‘Hipster’. This is because hipsterdom is all about appearing not to care (while caring deeply), nor identifying with any particular tribe (while effortlessly fitting in). Also, it’s important to know that before Caribou got big and won the Polaris Prize, he was called Manitoba. Obviously. . . .

So are hipsters just a licence for Radiohead to print money, or are they our generation’s counterculture? Are the bankers who mock them just like suits who shouted “Get a job!” at the hippy freaks who fought for civil rights in the sixties?

Not exactly, says Mark Greif, a professor at Manhattan’s New School (a.k.a. Hipster Harvard), and editor of What Was the Hipster? Unlike hippies, he says, hipsters exist in “a post-sell-out moment. Instead of being avant-garde, it’s about being an early adopter.” So it’s not about challenging mainstream culture as much as interpreting it better than anyone else. . . .

Leah McLaren, Globe and Mail, October 9


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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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.

Gosh, in light of the mountain of Relevant articles I read by McCracken back in the day---this is stunningly insightful.

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It's a shame Smith ends his review on a note of "Christian hipsters may sleep around but at least they're not Republicans." Okay, okay, he doesn't say it in those words, exactly, but still. It's just another example of how frustrating the debates between American evangelicals can be to Christians who happen to live outside the U.S.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's a shame Smith ends his review on a note of "Christian hipsters may sleep around but at least they're not Republicans." Okay, okay, he doesn't say it in those words, exactly, but still. It's just another example of how frustrating the debates between American evangelicals can be to Christians who happen to live outside the U.S.

If you've read any of Smith's other works, you'd realize how odd it is for you to say that. (BTW, Smith is Canadian but he just happens to live in the US.)

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Yeah, I inferred that Smith was Canadian from something he said in his review (though I can't remember what it was, exactly). But the tendency of American politics to creep into Canadian evangelicalism, simply by virtue of the fact that Americans make all the mass-produced evangelical products, is another one of those frustrating things. (This has been an issue at least since the late '80s, when copies of Oliver North's Under Fire: An American Story were proudly displayed in Canadian Christian bookstores.)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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It's a shame Smith ends his review on a note of "Christian hipsters may sleep around but at least they're not Republicans." Okay, okay, he doesn't say it in those words, exactly, but still. It's just another example of how frustrating the debates between American evangelicals can be to Christians who happen to live outside the U.S.

I didn't quite take it that way, especially in regards to seeing an opposition between Republicanism and reduced moral fiber. I took that as a statement that McCracken's book is not just all wonky historically and critically, but that it creates an unnecessary imbalance by telling its readers to make sure they don't break the evangelical taboos while neglecting the fact that we continue to commit terrible sins on the social justice front. So in Smith's case, this isn't an opposition stated in American political terms, but actually in terms internal to evangelical culture (to which Smith also belongs).

However, the recent CT Mohler story and blogdom response has created almost precisely the opposition you stated.

I vastly prefer Smith's.


"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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Yeah, I inferred that Smith was Canadian from something he said in his review (though I can't remember what it was, exactly). But the tendency of American politics to creep into Canadian evangelicalism, simply by virtue of the fact that Americans make all the mass-produced evangelical products, is another one of those frustrating things. (This has been an issue at least since the late '80s, when copies of Oliver North's Under Fire: An American Story were proudly displayed in Canadian Christian bookstores.)

I've generally been a fan of Smith's critique of American politics (see, for example, his review of Greg Boyd's book Myth of a Christian Nation). But anyway, at the end of the review I took Smith to be saying that McCracken's book has a narrow, individualistic view of what sin is.

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M. Leary wrote:

: . . . while neglecting the fact that we continue to commit terrible sins on the social justice front.

Well, suffice it to say the very notion of "social justice" is too big to debate here. (We once created an entire YahooGroup devoted to that subject, back in the Chiafilm days.) What's telling is that Smith's defense of "social justice" basically amounts to opposing conservative Republican failures on that front rather than liberal Democrat failures on that front.

The Defenestrator wrote:

: But anyway, at the end of the review I took Smith to be saying that McCracken's book has a narrow, individualistic view of what sin is.

That's certainly part of his critique. Though it's ironic that anyone would criticize people for being both "individualistic" and "militaristic". There's no such thing as "an army of one", no matter WHAT the U.S. Army recruiting posters say.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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I'll have to reread it again, PTC. When I get to "So when McCracken lists (not so tongue in cheek) 'ten signs that a Christian college senior has officially become a Democrat' (159), I’m sorry but the list just looks like characteristics of an educated, thoughtful Christian (and believe me, I’m no Democrat)." I took that as an indication that Smith was moving the opposition out of an American political vocabulary.

But I certainly resonate with your point about how American evangelical debates colonialize Christianity in other English speaking contexts.

Edited by M. Leary

"...the vivid crossing of borders between film and theology may save the film from the banality of cinema and festival business, and it may also save the church from the deep sleep of the habitual and the always known."

(Hans Werner Dannowski)

Filmwell | Twitter

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I feel silly defending Smith so much but ...

What's telling is that Smith's defense of "social justice" basically amounts to opposing conservative Republican failures on that front rather than liberal Democrat failures on that front.

... where does he do this? He doesn't mention Republicans at all in the review and he only mentions Democrats once ("...and believe me, I’m no Democrat...").

That's certainly part of his critique. Though it's ironic that anyone would criticize people for being both "individualistic" and "militaristic". There's no such thing as "an army of one", no matter WHAT the U.S. Army recruiting posters say.

I don't see why somebody can't be described as both individualistic and militaristic.

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(via @djword on Twitter)

hipster_wm.jpg

This seems to present a very clear definition of hipster... one very, very different than the definition I encounter reading the book. And that is part of my confusion in how to respond to the book. Its definitions are so different. This Cracked.com chart rings true with what I thought the word meant.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Fascinating, and rather, um, relevant, article from The Guardian on Hipsters (all, not just the Christians).

...In autumn/winter 2010, if there's one thing more fashionable than being a hipster, it's laughing at hipsters...

[snip]

...'"If you are concerned enough about the phenomenon to analyse it and discuss it, you are already somewhere on the continuum of hipsterism and are in the process of trying to rid yourself of its 'taint'."...

Matt

Edited by MattPage

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This seems to present a very clear definition of hipster... one very, very different than the definition I encounter reading the book. And that is part of my confusion in how to respond to the book. Its definitions are so different. This Cracked.com chart rings true with what I thought the word meant.

See, this is a good comment. I haven't read McCracken's book, but — from what I've seen — I feel like they're a connection between the depiction here and the ones that McCracken et al. are talking about. (At least from what I've gathered.) I'm wondering if this is like alternative rock in the '90s: it might've meant something at one point, but by the middle of the decade, everything that wasn't Steely Dan or thrash metal was label alt. rock.

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M. Leary wrote:

: When I get to "So when McCracken lists (not so tongue in cheek) 'ten signs that a Christian college senior has officially become a Democrat' (159), I’m sorry but the list just looks like characteristics of an educated, thoughtful Christian (and believe me, I’m no Democrat)." I took that as an indication that Smith was moving the opposition out of an American political vocabulary.

FWIW, I do recall that line, but I'm unfamiliar with McCracken's list of "signs", so I don't have a context for that line yet.

At any rate, that's from another part of the review, and to say "at least they're not Republicans" is NOT necessarily to say "at least they are Democrats". What prompted my reaction to the closing part of Smith's review was his list of conservative evangelical "sins", the majority of which are basically perceived flaws in Republican party policy; unless I blinked, he doesn't rattle off any traits that are typically identified with the Democrats. And of course, Smith rattles off this list in contrast to what McCracken identifies as hipster "sins", or what Smith downgrades to mere "evangelical taboos", such as sex outside of marriage. (Surely Smith doesn't mean to imply that things which hipsters regard as "sins" can't be mere "taboos" too, does he?)

The Defenestrator wrote:

: I don't see why somebody can't be described as both individualistic and militaristic.

To enlist in the army is to submit your will to the will of the state. There's nothing very individualistic about that.

The ironic thing is that hipsters and others who have problems with the military basically oppose what soldiers do on the very same grounds of "personal piety" that Smith tries to tag McCracken with. It's like Tony Campolo's old question about whether Jesus, personally and individually, would ever drop a bomb on somebody; he never considers that the soldier in question may need to set aside his personal piety or even his personal conscience in order to perform an awful but necessary task that, on a larger scale, may actually serve a greater good.

Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm also curious as to how a traditional sexual ethic, which requires us to submit ourselves to God and family, is somehow more individualistic than the hipster paradigm which, as diagnosed by McCracken, apparently says that it's okay to sleep with people outside of that sort of commitment.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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To enlist in the army is to submit your will to the will of the state. There's nothing very individualistic about that.

But the majority of the people Smith is talking about aren't in the military. So he must have something other in mind than enlisting in the army when he mentions "militarism." I've read a number of Smith's books, so I'm guessing that what he means by that is something like what Andrew Bacevich means by it in The New American Militarism. He calls militarism "the misleading and dangerous conceptions of war, soldiers, and military institutions that have come to pervade the American consciousness and that have perverted present-day U.S. national security policy."

The ironic thing is that hipsters and others who have problems with the military basically oppose what soldiers do on the very same grounds of "personal piety" that Smith tries to tag McCracken with. It's like Tony Campolo's old question about whether Jesus, personally and individually, would ever drop a bomb on somebody; he never considers that the soldier in question may need to set aside his personal piety or even his personal conscience in order to perform an awful but necessary task that, on a larger scale, may actually serve a greater good.

That's ridiculous ... having a problem with militarism and having a problem with the military aren't the same thing (e.g., Bacevich is a retired US army Colonel but he has written stridently against militarism).

Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm also curious as to how a traditional sexual ethic, which requires us to submit ourselves to God and family, is somehow more individualistic than the hipster paradigm which, as diagnosed by McCracken, apparently says that it's okay to sleep with people outside of that sort of commitment.

I'm curious about that too but I have to ask, who said it was? Smith certainly didn't. The more you write about this review the more you put words in Smith's mouth. You seem to want to put him into some sort of American-culture-wars box. Ironically, it is you who is reading his review through the lenses of "the debates between American evangelicals." And that's kind of frustrating.

For evidence of what I just wrote, take a look at this link where he writes a long paragraph laying into left-leaning evangelicals for being ... (wait for it) ... too individualistic and for congratulating themselves on ... (wait for it, again) ... "not being Republicans." Pretty much the exact opposite of what you accuse him of doing in this review. So either Smith has done a 180 on his views or he is wildly inconsistent in what he believes or you've misread him.

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The Defenestrator wrote:

: . . . having a problem with militarism and having a problem with the military aren't the same thing (e.g., Bacevich is a retired US army Colonel but he has written stridently against militarism).

What are the differences, then? The differences that MAKE a difference, I mean?

: : Oh, and for what it's worth, I'm also curious as to how a traditional sexual ethic, which requires us to submit ourselves to God and family, is somehow more individualistic than the hipster paradigm which, as diagnosed by McCracken, apparently says that it's okay to sleep with people outside of that sort of commitment.

:

: I'm curious about that too but I have to ask, who said it was?

For a second, I thought "it" referred to the part where I said "it's okay to sleep...", in which case the obvious answer is: the hipsters diagnosed by McCracken.

But now it seems to me that you were referring to the part where I say "a traditional sexual ethic... is somehow more..." instead, in which case I refer you to the part where Smith writes somewhat dismissively of McCracken's focus on what Smith describes as "personal pieties" and "evangelical taboos" regarding sex. And I refer you to the way in which Smith couches this in a paragraph that begins by contrasting McCracken's "evangelical pieties" with "the systemic injustice that characterize (sic) 'normal' American life" and ends with Smith contrasting McCracken's definition of "sin" (which includes sex and all those other "personal taboos") with the hipsters' definition of "sin" (which includes "wars of aggression" and "policies of fiscal selfishness" -- pretty systemic stuff).

: You seem to want to put him into some sort of American-culture-wars box. Ironically, it is you who is reading his review through the lenses of "the debates between American evangelicals." And that's kind of frustrating.

When Smith comments directly on a "debate between American evangelicals", then I think it makes perfect sense to read Smith through that lens. And yes, as I said, I find the WAY he comments on that debate frustrating.

: So either Smith has done a 180 on his views or he is wildly inconsistent in what he believes or you've misread him.

Or his views are consistent but his manner of expressing them leaves him wide open to misinterpretation.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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The Defenestrator wrote:

What are the differences, then? The differences that MAKE a difference, I mean?

Umm, I told you in my last reply when I said what I thought Smith probably meant by militarism.

For a second, I thought "it" referred to the part where I said "it's okay to sleep...", in which case the obvious answer is: the hipsters diagnosed by McCracken.

But now it seems to me that you were referring to the part where I say "a traditional sexual ethic... is somehow more..." instead, in which case I refer you to the part where Smith writes somewhat dismissively of McCracken's focus on what Smith describes as "personal pieties" and "evangelical taboos" regarding sex. And I refer you to the way in which Smith couches this in a paragraph that begins by contrasting McCracken's "evangelical pieties" with "the systemic injustice that characterize (sic) 'normal' American life" and ends with Smith contrasting McCracken's definition of "sin" (which includes sex and all those other "personal taboos") with the hipsters' definition of "sin" (which includes "wars of aggression" and "policies of fiscal selfishness" -- pretty systemic stuff).

He was never dismissive of personal piety. That entire paragraph was about what was was missing in much of American evangelicalism. That's why he agrees with McCracken that we should "get our personal pieties in line." But Smith says we should also be concerned those two systemic things you mentioned as well as lifestyles of persistent greed.

Or his views are consistent but his manner of expressing them leaves him wide open to misinterpretation.

You are the only person I've seen who seems to think he should (or can) be interpreted this way.

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The Defenestrator wrote:

: Umm, I told you in my last reply when I said what I thought Smith probably meant by militarism.

Sorry, I got so distracted by the generalized adjectives and/or verbs ("misleading", "dangerous", "perverted") that I missed the noun ("conceptions"). So militarism is a set of "conceptions" while the military is the actual thing being conceived. Okay. That's a difference, I guess; it leaves open the possibility that the military could also be conceived in ways that are NOT "misleading", "dangerous" and "perverted", though what exactly it is that separates the "misleading" conceptions from the not-so-"misleading" conceptions remains undefined.

In any case, my basic point remains: The military is anything but a paragon of individualism, so unless Smith is arguing that evangelicals have an "individualist" "conception" of the military that is "misleading", "dangerous" and "perverted" precisely BECAUSE of its "individualism", I think there is still some irony to be detected here.

: He was never dismissive of personal piety. That entire paragraph was about what was was missing in much of American evangelicalism. That's why he agrees with McCracken that we should "get our personal pieties in line."

But he agrees in a dismissive way. It's a question of tone more than anything else.

The way Smith tosses sex into the mix after adopting his dismissive tone ("gasp!") is especially problematic here because Christian hipsters really DO send out confusing signals on this issue. See, again, Lauren Winner's 'Sex and the Single Evangelical' and the fallout thereof. And in terms of historic Christian thought, there really shouldn't be all THAT much leeway on sexual matters, whereas "fiscal policies" and "wars" have always been much more open to debate (who gets to decide which war is a "war of aggression" and which war is not, etc.?); so to treat sex as just an "evangelical taboo" while giving so much weight to hipster taboos is to place rhetorical weight on the wrong side of the ledger, as far as I can see.

: But Smith says we should also be concerned those two systemic things you mentioned as well as lifestyles of persistent greed.

Well, no, he doesn't actually SAY that. What he does is say that McCracken is concerned about this thing over here while true hipsters are concerned about those things over there.

: You are the only person I've seen who seems to think he should (or can) be interpreted this way.

There are various ways to read that statement, too. ;)


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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But Smith says we should also be concerned those two systemic things you mentioned as well as lifestyles of persistent greed.

OK, I've not read Smith. What is meant here? If Smith refers to this, what does he mean?


"During the contest trial, the Coleman team presented evidence of a further 6500 absentees that it felt deserved to be included under the process that had produced the prior 933 [submitted by Franken, rk]. The three judges finally defined what constituted a 'legal' absentee ballot. Countable ballots, for instance, had to contain the signature of the voter, complete registration information, and proper witness credentials.

But the panel only applied the standards going forward, severely reducing the universe of additional basentees the Coleman team could hope to have included. In the end, the three judges allowed about 350 additional absentees to be counted. The panel also did nothing about the hundreds, possibly thousands, of absentees that have already been legally included, yet are now 'illegal' according to the panel's own ex-post definition."

The Wall Street Journal editorial, April 18, 2009 concerning the Franken Coleman decision in the Minnesota U.S. Senate race of 2008.

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But Smith says we should also be concerned those two systemic things you mentioned as well as lifestyles of persistent greed.

OK, I've not read Smith. What is meant here? If Smith refers to this, what does he mean?

I took him to be referring to consumerism.

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Finding Odessa responds to the CT article:

Where I think the author gets it right is the idea that many younger evangelicals, who perhaps are really only reacting against the Kitschy Christianity of their youth and have not formed an independent theological perspective on their new spiritual practices, simply resonate more with the values of hipster youth culture than with their own inherited evangelical tradition. For me, that goes way beyond hipster fads. I believe it is simply a tradition in transit, perhaps trying on those tight jeans for size, but not necessarily doomed to disappear with the last superfluous scarf.

And are you really serious about this critique, or did you just need something negative to say:

“If hipsters cannot completely overthrow the structures that bind them, they can at least destabilize them by engaging in hedonistic behavior: smoking, drinking, cursing, sexual experimentation, and so on.”

Yeah, smoking and drinking are such hedonistic practices; perhaps hedonistic for fundamentalists, but not for Catholics and Anglicans, who make up a huge percentage of worldwide Christianity. Of course, one might mention that Christianity has become a Southern Hemisphere phenomenon, where many conservative ideals like teetotalism hold strong. But, come on, this guy seems to have cheapened a lot of Christian practice by putting his own kitschy label on it.

And moreover, the author, who seems quite intelligent, asks some sort of ridiculous rhetorical gib like “Isn’t Christianity supposed to be distinguishable and set apart from the world?” Is he really trying to argue that Christianity is simply a tradition of following social taboos? As if the “Christ vs. Culture” is the only option for conscientious believers? Anyway, sure, if you want a Christianity where you are known to be a Christian because you don’t drink or cuss, then you can have that fucking Christianity. And then again, I’m sure I’m wrong.

Elsewhere, others are merely accepting that the article and book have "revealed" a frightening "movement":

As for me, one of the most chilling aspects of the hipster movement revealed in this article was the fact that hipster Christians use foul language as a means of expression, even while in the pulpit or in meaningful talks upon the faith in order to relate to the people.

And others call the book "brave and noble."

...here we discover the strength of McCracken’s caricatures: they serve as mirrors to expose that which is within us and is inevitably neither Christian nor cool. We cringe when he takes things that we love—whether it is Paul Tillich or Tom Wright, Bob Dylan or Sufjan Stevens, American Beauty or Amélie—and associates them with these labels. As an ‘insider’, my cringes are probably even more acute. But beyond the great discomfort caused by the mere mentioning of these things we genuinely appreciate, things we would appreciate even if there was no one to look cool for, we are challenged to ask ourselves if the image we convey is actually reflective of being ‘Christians’ and being ‘hip’ or if we are merely posers.

Ultimately I think that McCracken has found something that sells and is running with it. Even so, as he mentions in his introduction, very little attention has been given to studying hipsters (let alone Christian hipsters) and therefore he has done a brave and novel thing in Hipster Christianity.

But should we fear this so-called ‘hipster Christianity movement’? I do not think so. But while I side with the criticisms of Hipster Christianity that were mentioned earlier, I believe that McCracken’s ultimate aim is an invaluable one.

And then there's this, where we learn that those who take issue with McCracken's views are doing so because they think of themselves as being "with it":

The newest forms of legalism are found among the NeoReformed, who have somehow managed to get complementarianism, Calvinism and young earth creationism … well, if not in it’s very close to the inner circle. If you don’t think this exists, go here to see it and tell us what you see there:

http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2010/10/18/deyoung-duncan-and-mohler-whats-new-about-the-new-calvinism/

Sometimes this group sounds like Elijah who thought he alone was faithful. Hooey.

I poke at these guys often, but they’re hardly alone. Indeed, alongside this legalism is the progressive, emergent/emerging form of legalism, which says you can’t embrace traditional evangelical views (be they political or theological), especially something like evangelism for the purpose of salvation, if you are intelligent and ‘with it’. This is why I liked Brett McCracken’s Hipster Christianity, and the fierce reaction he got from those who see themselves as ‘with it’ showed to me he was at least pointing in the right direction about a good concern.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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Holy Moly! wrote:

: Brett's most recent blog entry reveals that his day job now is in "advertising and marketing."

According to the bio on his blog, he "works full-time for Biola University as managing editor for Biola magazine." Wouldn't that be kind of like Jeff's job at SPU as an editor on Response magazine? I just assumed that Brett meant his work there was part of the university's self-promotion.


"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

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So depressing.

Brett's most recent blog entry reveals that his day job now is in "advertising and marketing." This is a perfect career path for a shameless huckster.

Brett is not a shameless huckster. He's a part of this community, even if he isn't active on ArtsandFaith (to my knowledge. Was he at one time? I don't remember.) He interacts with many of us in other circles.

He writes articles for Biola's publications and works in their marketing department. Promoting the work of a Christian university is rather rewarding work in my experience -- Brett and I have had almost exactly the same job for several years now. I'm happy to go on with this job for the rest of my life, as higher education is very important to me, and SPU's vision inspires me, and I'd be writing about it even if they weren't paying me to do so.

But really, I'm not posting this to defend myself against the label of "shameless huckster." I've been called more ludicrous things in response to film reviews. ("Agent of the devil" ... "stumbling block"... "Christian hipster" ... )

No, I'm really posting this because Brett and I have been friends for several years now. And look, I have my own issues with the articles in CT and the WSJ, and with much of the conversation around the book (which I haven't read and thus cannot review).

But I've enjoyed his blog for years, and I've often benefited from his film reviews.

Can we stick to discussing the alleged "movement" called "Hipster Christianity" - Does it exist? What does it mean? Is there anything new here? Does the benefit of creating all of these "hipster profiles" outweigh the damage that will be done by those who embrace it as a way to dismiss and put down? What is the difference between an authentic and meaningful engagement with culture and 'becoming worldly"?

Can we please avoid wasting time with "Is Brett a jerk?" Can we behave as though he's probably with us at this round table... even if he isn't (though I think he probably is, even if he's just "lurking")?

I'd like to think A&F participants are above petty put-downs and harassment. I have enough experience here -- on the receiving end, and the dishing-out end -- to know that, sadly, that's not true... but it would be nice to at least aspire to such a thing.

Let's all go back and read Post #203... which I think is one of the finest posts ever contributed to ArtsandFaith.com.

Edited by Overstreet

P.S.  I COULD BE WRONG.

 

Takin' 'er easy for all you sinners at lookingcloser.org. Also abiding at Facebook and Twitter.

 

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