Too-attentive readers will note publication a day early. I move tomorrow.
This brief article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal introduced me to Brett McCracken, author of the book Hipster Christianity, an analysis of a new, youthful strain of post-evangelical American Christianity. From that article, and the chapter of the book available on McCracken's website, I gather that he is addressing two separate groups within the church, middle-aged adults seeking to retain younger adults in church congregations, and young adults rebelling against the shortcomings of the evangelical, "seeker-sensitive" churches in which they were raised. From what I've read so far, the book is focused on the latter.
McCracken seems like a thoughtful and tempered, if not especially penetrating writer, and I hope to read his book in the near future. A few preliminary thoughts: I identify strongly with certain aspects of "hipster Christianity" (I scored 79 out of 120 on the "Are You a Hipster Christian Quiz?") - its aesthetic preoccupation, its distaste for the performance aspects of contemporary worship services, its desire for substantive Biblical teaching. There are also aspects of hipsterdom in general that I despise: the fetishism for the new, the exaltation of irony, the obsession with personal appearance. I also think that these don't jive well with Christianity, which demands whole-hearted commitment to ancient teachings. I'm looking forward to getting McCracken's take on the trends.
Also worth mentioning for readers from my home church: We're not within a hundred miles of hipster Christianity. I'm the closest thing you have to a hipster, I'm far from it, and I'm moving away. We are a flyover country church, the young adults we have are firmly in the cultural mainstream, and the ones who are leaving are even more so. Hipsters are striving to be the cultural elite, and that ain't us. Nevertheless, the questions the McCracken is asking hipster Christians, questions about the possible trade-offs between relevance and faithfulness, are questions that are just as relevant to us.
"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." - Brett McCracken