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Hipster Christianity redux

6 December 2012

Is this you? Is this me? Someone tweeted (and I retweeted) a link to this article on Hipster Christianity: The Ex-Convert: On Hipster Christianity, and Their Defenses Against Atheism:

Here is a short list of cultural elements found in what I will call “College Hipster Christianity,” or CHC, gathered from the aforementioned article, various comments, and my own experience in this sub-culture:

Music such as Muford and Sons, Iron and Wine, Sufjan Stevens, U2, and when feeling especially spiritual, old hymns set to acoustic guitars or Gregorian chant. These musical choices as opposed to more mainstream top-40 hits or Contemporary Christian Music.

Authors such as Dostoyevsky, Flannery O’Conner, Tolkein, C.S. Lewis,Wendell Berry, and G.K Chesterton. Reading material should be simultaneously hip and relevant, while maintaining certain intellectual standards. The classics are always excellent choices, especially those with some sort of spiritual bent, like Augustine’s Confessions. It absolutely doesn’t include popular Christian literature such as The Purpose Driven Life or the Left Behind Series.

I’ve read several blog posts about “Hipster Christianity” in the last couple of years, and most of them seemed to me to be very wide of the mark, as I noted here a couple of years ago Hipster Christianity | Khanya. But the article quoted above comes a lot closer to the mark, at least for me. Though I haven’t read Flannery O’Conner or Wendell Berry, or heard any of that music, Tolkien, C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton are among my favourite authors. Though, like the Artsyhonker, I disagree with some of the conclusions, at least there seems to be enough common ground to possibly have a conversation.

The linked article reminds me of some conversations I had with Emerging Church people about 3-4 years ago (we seem to have moved away from that now): Stuff Christian College Kids Don’t Like:

Just a few months after graduating from a Christian college, I found an article that encapsulated the curiousness of the community I was leaving. Called “One Island Under God,” it was based on a Facebook conversation by authors Anna Scott and Brian Buell that listed a very specific category: stuff Christian college graduates like. The inventory of interests unearthed by Buell and Scott is jarringly familiar—and perplexing. It includes The Princess Bride, Sufjan Stevens, Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, “Social and/or sophisticated or exotic forms of smoking” (pipes, hookah, cloves, cigars), certain fantasy series (Harry Potter, Narnia, Lord of the Rings), and Settlers of Catan. Does anyone else feel like a pinned butterfly?

Though it doesn’t make me feel like a pinned butterfly, the pin is at least visible in the middle distance, moving around, and perhap-s threatening to come a bit closer. An perhaps if it gets any closer it may stick itself into this: Blessed are the foolish — foolish are the blessed : Notes from underground. Does the cap fit?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. 6 December 2012 4:40 pm

    Huh. Glad I skipped that boat. I went to school for theology, but not at a Christian college. And I missed out on of this. Yay me.

  2. Emily permalink
    7 December 2012 1:53 pm

    After reading the linked post as well as your post here, I definitely have the stuck-pin feeling. This is a perfect description of my life at a little Christian college, though I must say that in the intervening five years I’ve grown up and gotten over the pretentiousness of that time, but the memories are fond. Now, I read Lewis because I need to be reminded of the truths he writes, not because of the cooler-than-thou factor. Now, I attend liturgy each week because I recognize my deep need for the Church and my inability to come to Christ under my own power, not for the thrill of being so utterly non-non-denominational. I still chuckle at that time and the rebelling-by-conforming aspects.


  1. The end of the hipster: how flat caps and beards stopped being so cool | Fashion | The Observer | Khanya

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