All Hipsters…

…eventually become Catholic.  A fun little piece.

I have trouble tracking the multiple layers of postmodern irony as hipsters avoid the mainstream and refuse all identification with identifiers.  After a while, I just want to shout, “Say what you are for and stop merely being against!”  I’m for Christ and his holy Church.  Being that involves (sometimes) lining up with hipsters in their rejection of a  number of trends in American culture.  But you can’t build a life on mere protest.  Along with distrusting the wrong things you have to have the guts to trust the right things.  Along  with having the courage to resist the herd when it is trying to stampede you in the wrong direction, you have to have the courage to travel in the right one–even when that direction is being walked by a lot of other people and you are *not* the lonely prophet, magnificent in isolation.  You have to lose your pride and submit to instead being part of a vast communion of saints and slobs who show you up as the nothing special you actually are.  You have to build, not just tear down, or you have nothing to give your kids.  Here’s the soundest building advice ever given:

“Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27)

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  • Oh. My. Gosh. I just realized I might be a hipster. And that I will probably convert. :-0

  • James Isabella

    I don’t know about hipsters, but I’ve often thought that Goth teenagers would be good people for evangelization, especially evangelization by traditional Catholics. Candles, drinking blood, black vestments, midnight mass, Latin, all souls day… what self respecting Goth wouldn’t be attracted to that? 🙂

  • “I converted before it was cool.” -Paul

  • ivan_the_mad

    Why do hipsters always have burned tongues? Because they drink their coffee before it’s cool.

    • Mark Shea

      And that’s when I shot him, your honor.

  • Ted Seeber

    I’ve known this ever since I was a comedy DJ on the alternative college radio station KTEC in Klamath Falls (88.9 FM, 96.5 TCI Cable!). It has been a heavy metal station for 20 years previous, and finding comedy in the stacks was hard. But whenever I found a song that touched on religion, I’d play it.

    The Hipster Movement one was XTC’s _The Ballad of Peter Pumpkinhead_:

    Which I always thought should be “The Reincarnation of St. Francis”

    • As a devout XTC fan and a devout Catholic, I’m just jumping up and down in excitement at the reference!!!

      • B.E. Ward

        I’ve always had a hard time reconciling XTC’s goodness with ‘Dear God’…

  • I straddle that line between vagrant, nerd, and hipster. (Oh yes, there’s a line.) My TLM got a glowing review in the local newspaper’s op pages where a parishioner compared it to Ornette Coleman. I didn’t know who wrote it but I wanted to get drinks with them.

    But seriously, there is a huge place for evangelization of the youth focusing on these kinds of sub- and counter-cultural groups. I converted because I came to believe it was true, and I joined to discover myself in a world of KC fish fries and blue-hairs. I spent the first 3 years feeling like an absolute stranger in the Church. I still feel socially disconnected from it, but I’ve discovered there are others like me.

    If only Catholics were less attuned to the shallower aspects of popular Catholic culture and more attuned to the spiritual and intellectual trends in the non-Catholic cultures we’d be able to effectively evangelize them. You can’t expect people, especially young people that grew up in a world much different from your own (something that is more true – not less – with each passing year) to adapt to your culture. You need to convert them and then give them the tools to convert their own cultures. The Mass itself (especially, imo, the TLM) gives us a shared spiritual and cultural base to keep this approach from fragmenting.

    There is a huge spiritual hole that we could fill and it saddens me to see us failing to do so. Heck, I even came up with a semi-coherent plan of action for my educated, liberal college town that involves renovating a single parish to make it appealing to a wide range of younger groups and then running special programs out of it. If the Germans and Irish used to have their own parishes because of cultural differences, I don’t see why the youth (and in this context by youth I mean those younger than 45 that grew up with the popular culture, aka people that like Nirvana; there’s an even younger youth culture that is being served more poorly than this group) can’t have their own parishes, as well.

    I really don’t think Catholics recognize the immensity of the disconnect, and this is the chief reason most parishes are empty and there aren’t enough priests. But it’s just my opinion, I could be wrong.

    • B.E. Ward

      I’m not saying any church is doing a bang-up job in this department, but it’s really hard to evangelize or meet the spiritual needs of a subculture when most folks in that subculture have their fingers jammed in their ears yelling “LALALALA I can’t hear you!!” when you try to provide a calm and well-reasoned approach to God and the faith.

  • Glad you enjoyed my scribbles Mark.
    Hopefully hipsters can release their grip on mere protest once they see the beauty in our Orthodoxy that refuses to conform.

    • Ted Seeber

      A huge part of the problem (that Steven and I alluded to above) is the fact that a good many baby boomers *did conform*. They think they didn’t, just because their conformist culture of death was such a break from their parent’s culture of life, but they did.

      A priest that responds to the sexual revolution by abandoning celibacy and preaching for gay marriage, is a conformist, and has no way to reach a young person searching for objective morality in cyberspace.

  • Oh man, Mark. That was a chilling link. Of course it’s true. I’d come out as a reverted-hipster, except my anti-joining reflex prevents me from identifying with anything so massive and trendy as Hipsterism. But I still have my copy of _St. Athanasius on the Incarnation_, given to me by my fellow-drama-club-pal Anglican-convert friend in his efforts to evangelize me early on.