Hipster Christianity in the New Yorker

9-14-2010

In a Sept. 13 piece ("Hip For Jesus") for The New Yorker, Macy Halford writes about the Christianity Today cover story about hipster Christianity. The following is a little excerpt from Halford's commentary, but the piece is short so I'd suggest reading it all here.

Christianity Today has a big hit with this month's cover story: "The Ironic World of Hipster Faith: What Happens when 'Cool' Meets Christ." It's written by Brett McCracken, who just published a book called "Hipster Christianity," which makes a tour of churches in America and abroad whose relationship to youth culture is, in McCracken's view, too close for comfort, and places today's Christian hipster in historical context. In Christianity Today, McCracken writes that today's religious hipsterism is "a rather narrow subset of the faith: mostly white evangelical, mostly economically well-off." It's the latest incarnation of "a decades-long collision of 'cool' and 'Christianity'.... a rebellion against old-school evangelicalism and its fuddy-duddy legalism, apathy about the arts, and pitiful lack of concern for social justice. It's also a rebellion against George W. Bush-style Christianity: American flags in churches, the Ten Commandments in courtrooms, and evangelical leaders who get too involved in conservative politics, such as James Dobson and Jerry Falwell." All of which is understandable. The trouble McCracken has with Christian hipsters is the same trouble everyone everywhere has with hipsters, which is that they often seem to lack authenticity.

The piece is thoughtful and balanced, and I especially liked the last line, which is a good reminder for all of us: "At any rate, I think the cover artist got it right: Jesus isn't sweating it."