Hipster Christianity

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial up about the current efforts to re-brand evangelical Christianity in order to make it more palatable to the younger set. Entitled The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity, the author is not real wild about the attempts to use new media and new tactics.

In his book, “The Courage to Be Protestant,” David Wells writes:”The born-again, marketing church has calculated that unless it makes deep, serious cultural adaptations, it will go out of business, especially with the younger generations. What it has not considered carefully enough is that it may well be putting itself out of business with God.”

I find this attitude odd.

There’s a line – I believe it’s from Rob Bell – that every 500 years the church has shaken itself. That’s simplistic; in truth, there have been any number of occasions in which the church has nearly shaken itself to pieces. Several of those periods came within the centuries after the conversion of Constantine, like the Arian crisis, the expulsion of the Nestorians or the long-running conflict with the monophysites.

At each point, part of Christianity has branched off and part remained tied to the Empire. Most modern Christians are descended from one branch. But is it the right branch? Is this the branch that is right by God?

I don’t know of too many evangelical Christians who mull over the arguments of the Donatists or the Arians. They accept that the branch they were born into was rightly guided – ironically, by the same church fathers, bishops and emperors that evangelicals now sneer at for being “too Catholic.” They accept the canon as it was defined by these men and these traditions that come down through the councils.

I suppose the only thing you can do is to have faith that you’re sitting on the right branch because God guided things. But if God was guiding things then, why not now?

I sometimes hear Evangelicals declaring that Satan is behind this or that church movement. But why would Satan waste his time dealing with some white upper-middle class hipster douchebags who are probably going to have enough trouble explaining to St. Peter why they lived high on the hog while half of the planet starved?

No, if Satan’s got the brains of a doorknob, he’s going back in time and whispering in the ear of Athanasius and convincing him that the Son is co-eternal with the Father. In one swoop he’d have driven a wedge between Christians and Jews and (later) Muslims, as well as muddying the waters of monotheism.

  • wazza

    shouldn’t it be like the Chinese idea of the “mandate of heaven”: whoever is most powerful has Heaven’s approval, because otherwise they wouldn’t be that powerful?

    • wintermute

      Sounds like the Prosperity Gospel.

  • Olaf

    I the bible were trough then we would find evidences of time travel. But so far no older jezus visited his younger version in any history.

  • http://agod-sizedpuzzle.blogspot.com/ Eruesso

    Time-Traveling Satan? Love it!

    • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

      Kinda makes sense…I mean, why wouldn’t Satan be able to travel through time?

  • nazani14

    The problem with these “cultural adaptations” is that most of them are basically bad imitations of pop culture. Why would young people who are attuned to the next big thing be impressed? I suggest that they don’t go to church at all, just go to the megachurch websites for sermons, etc, and a couple of times a year go to a “Christcon” for an orgy of merchandising.

  • swmr1

    Hasn’t the evangelical church been doing this for years? I was a christian in the 80′s when the christian music industry was just building steam and the christian bookstores were starting to stock their shelves with knock-off t-shirts like the one in the picture. The church I first attended had surfer pastors and people wore anything from shorts to biker wear. I was definitely influenced to be born again as a teenager by the ability of the church to be less churchy and more cool.

  • Pingback: Blessed are the Non-hipsters « Immoderate

  • LRA

    I think that xians that try so hard to look cool just end up looking cheezy. Take Fellowship Bible Church in Dallas… CHEEEEEEZZZYYYYY!!!!!!! Even their website is extremely cheezy:

    http://www.fellowshipchurch.com/

    They aren’t hipsters at all.

    http://www.latfh.com/

    (hee hee hee!!!)

  • CoffeeJedi

    So, hipster-christianity…..

    You have to listen to underground indie Christian rock from bands that haven’t “sold out” to get Xtian radio airplay, and if anyone asks about your religion you have to deny it and just say that you’re doing it “ironically”?

    • CoffeeJedi

      Oh oh!

      And instead of communion wine becoming the blood of Jesus, it’s PBR!

  • James Thompson

    Back in late 60′s and 70′s there was the “Jesus Freak” movement that I got caught up in for a year or two. A lot of Rock music, blended with the hippie culture of the time.

  • Lana

    It’s funny that they think this will bring in flock members. See, when I first started considering (as a teenager) leaving the LDS church, I never imagined I’d become an atheist. I figured the LDS church had a lot of good points and morals, but some bad stuff mixed in. So I figured there must be a church that hit closer to that all-elusive “truth.”

    I went to a couple churches in town, but I couldn’t stomach guitar-playing pastors and hymns that were basically rounds, projected on big screens for the congregation. Where was the peace? Where was the spirituality? If nothing else, the LDS church had presented an atmosphere of respect for god, of reverence and meditation and prayer.

    I looked at Catholicism, but the depth of tradition and ritual couldn’t make up for all the wrongs perpetuated by them.

    Eventually my dissatisfaction with the traditional churches, combined with the distaste and disgust engendered by “relevant, modern” churches, set me on the path that led to atheism. A path I can’t honestly say I would have explored if there had been a satisfactory, traditional offering.

    Of course, “satisfactory” is the key word there. I did like the ritual and tradition in mormonism (plus the history; I’m descended from mormon pioneers on both sides, which is pretty cool on a personal level) — but I couldn’t find it in myself to ignore those disconcerting, jarring bits of info that floated my way. Voluntary ignorance is appalling to me — I wanted to know. And that probably would have occurred in any religion. So who knows.

  • http://www.rapture-orphan-rescue.com japanther

    I’d just like to point out that I have found a few moments of brilliance in the hipster/christian community. These are quite under the radar for even most hipsters or even hipster christians. These rare blips are genuine as hell, and their passionate music gives me goosebumps.

    Daniel Johnston – I Had Lost My Mind

    Daniel Johnston – Trailer for The Devil and Daniel Johnston Documentary

    Half Handed Cloud Feed Your Sheep a Burning Lamp

    Half Handed Cloud Once, Twice, Seven Times a Werewolf

    (I am atheist, in case you have forgotten me from my lurky tendancies)

    • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

      Seriously, I don’t feel comfortable with everyone [all 11 of you (: ] dog-piling on this too. The things mentioned in the article are anything but hip. Those are commercial sell-out bullshit trinkets. Those things are just basically Christians with photo-shop. Art, beauty, poetry, lyrics… first kisses, first heart breaks, repeated heartbreak, search for truth, realizing mistakes, celebrating life. These are things that yes, even Christians experience.

      I’ll admit that as an atheist and a music freak, I was ‘ready’ to hate the things I linked to when I first encountered them. (see Vorjack’s, or was it Custador’s music thread a few weeks back. I offered up a shit ton of atheist music.) However, I’d like to say that good art is good no matter what. Inspiration is inspiration, and talented individuals are often all the more intense and powerful for their struggle to cope with their religion.

      Maybe I just have a different perspective of what it means to ‘be a hipster’. But I feel offended that some of ‘us hipsters’ are written off just because of our religious preference. As much as atheists are maligned in the mainstream community, Christians are maligned in the underground/hipster music community.

      (Please don’t call me a faitheist either, I just love music man. fuck apologetics and fuck religion, but also fuck not being open minded to art. END SOAPBOX RANT)

      Queue cricket noise.

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess D

    I came to faith 20 years ago via 2 churches: the Vineyard Christian Fellowship, which has incredible worship music, and a pentacostal church. I had powerful experiences in the presence of God in both places. The VIneyard worship has revolutionized worship in evangelical churches since; their music invokes the Holy Spirit; they sing TO God, not about GOd,and that invokes His presence. I felt a spirit of Love flooding thru me as they sung to Jesus. Check out their music on youtube. Try Holy and Annointed One by Brian DOerksen, a vineyard writer.Vineyard is a nondenomoinational informal church. THey belived in healing and talking in tongues. I am a ;musician also, and I know that the purpose of music is to invoke God’s presence to heal people and prophesy prayers into existence. Bob Dylan became a Christian also because of his association with the VIneyard. check them out.

    In the pentacostal church, I remember feeling strangely happy (from the presence of God) even though intellectually the songs were wierd to me, as a Jew – they were about the blood of Jesus, which I didin’t understand at the time. BUt hte presence of God was stronger than my intellectual reaction to it. We need to experience the reality of hte presence of the Holy SPIrit to have faith, belief is not enough to withstand doubts about the theology. Worship is very important – it invokes God’s spirit which is a holy presence. All music invokeds spirits, and there are different spirits. Drugs open a person to other spirits, and should be avoided. Having books aaround you that doubt the bible will invoke ungodly spirits that will affect your thoughts. The word Inspiration means “a spirit goes into it’> All thoughts come to us from the spiritual realm. THe new testament says in James 3 there is wisdom from above and wisdom from below. You can read more abut my testimony and how to get more of God’s presence in my book Manual for Transformational Healing-God’s Answer to Psychiatry. It is free on my website at 1prophetspeaks.com. Psychiatry is atheism masquerading as science. THey claim mental illness is c aused by chemical imbalances, but this is a lie to sell drugs. It is caused by demonic oppression, which is caused by various things, icluding demonic music, tv, videos, books, occult paraphernalia, symbols, drugs. THese can be rid of by praying in Jesus name to renounce these things and rebuking the spirits.

    THere is also a minibook Spiritual Wisdom. There is also an excerpt from the book as an article called Spiritual vs. Material, which is aimed at atheists. It addresses intellectual reasons to believe in God. Ultimately, a person needs ot humbly, not arrogantly, ask God to reveal Himself. Then we need to make an effort to seek the truth, by reading the bible (King James) which transmits His spirit (other versions are corrupted and lose authority and presence), and by praying and acting in faith. God often moves as we move in faith. He says in Deut. 4 “if yo useek me with all your heart and soul you will find me”.

    • LRA

      *facepalm*

    • trj

      Yep, you’re a Pentecostal all right. God help you.

    • Sunny Day

      HAHAHAHAHA!

      Spiritual vs. Material is aimed at atheists. It addresses the many mindless reasons to believe in Gawd. Ultimately, a person first needs to believe that god exists then to ask Gawd to reveal Himself from behind his Almighty Raincoat.

      Fixed that for you Profitess.

    • http://theskippyreview.wordpress.com Skippy

      Good grief. What the frak are you on about, “prophetess D” —what, is that some sort of Jesusy-hip-hop name?

    • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

      god dammit. Right after I stick up for hipster religious music. Now nobody is going to check out meh leeeenks. |:

      Fail. So hard. Even Jesus would facepalm

    • http://www.thathurtsmyears.blogspot.com/ michael

      I am Gnostic and Pentocostal and I’m afraid to say that you are quite full of sh*t! You are making G*d in your own image……therefore all of what you believe in is completely wrong and totally off track. There are no demons, no satan and no Jesus…..he died 2,000 years ago. Worry not….you’ll get over it!!! It would appear that you just won’t let G*d change you. Try it or visit a psychiatrist as soon as possible.

      PS….The New Testament was NOT written for christians, it was written by Gnostics for Gnostics. Worry not….you’ll get over that one too!!

      • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

        The rare double fail.

        is this some Edgar Allen?

    • Len

      Do they actually let you walk around freely? Without guards and doctors and stuff? You are seriously scary.

  • 6uldvnt

    OK, Vorjack, I’m a bit confused. Are you an atheist or a fundie masquerading to get your message behind the lines? I’m reading your report on the WSJ report and it seems like you’re debating on whether the new tactic of “re-branding” Christianity is going to sit “right by God.” THERE IS NO GOD. Therefore, any re-branding, shaking up or repositioning of the church doesn’t matter to an imaginary creature and is simply advertising by those in power in order to stay in power or gain more of it. If there is a possible “peril” of a cool Christianity, I welcome it. Any change in a religious presentation that can alienate and drive people away looks like a positive to me. By the way, Satan DOESN’T have the brains of a doorknob..because Satan isn’t real either.

    • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

      It’s pretty clear that Vorjack is not the author of the WSJ report. The first clue to this fact would probably be these two sentences:

      “The Wall Street Journal has an editorial up about the current efforts to re-brand evangelical Christianity in order to make it more palatable to the younger set. Entitled The Perils of ‘Wannabe Cool’ Christianity, the author is not real wild about the attempts to use new media and new tactics.”
      *Note: These are also the first two sentences.

      Vorjack seems to be making the same point as you. No? But ultimately, I disagreed with the WSJ author’s definition of ‘Hipster’. But the freaks are starting to comment now, and I know what he MEANT by ‘Hipster’. So overall, what the shit are you talking about?

      • 6uldvnt

        Obviously he’s not the author of the WSJ report. That’s not what I said. Vorjacks comments seem lean to the perspective that God is an actual entity that may take offense with the new, cooler xtianity. Either that or there are some thoughts in Vorjacks head that never made it to the page. That’s the “shit” I’m talking about.

        • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

          I kind of see what you mean now. There really is some ambiguity there.

          “I suppose the only thing you can do is to have faith that you’re sitting on the right branch because God guided things. But if God was guiding things then, why not now?”

          vorjack you are messy sometimes.

        • Kodie

          Are you serious? I thought he was addressing the author of the article and sort of went from there.

          A. Young people leaving the church
          B. Churches marketing to young people
          C. Historical context – Christianity descended from a common branch council, yadda yadda, guided by god’s wisdom or … it wouldn’t be here. (this is Christian logic).
          D. Satan interfering and seducing people to the “wrong” branches of Christianity or another religion, i.e. any type of Christianity that is not one’s own.
          E. Why are all the young people leaving then? Where is this guidance now? Why the drive to make Christianity sexy for youths?

          In summary, the author suggests this marketing drive might not sit right with god, it cheapens religion and such. Vorjack wonders aloud why anyone would bother. If god exists and he’s been guiding the branch all along, it should be evident and appealing to anyone, and apparently it isn’t appealing to younger adults.

          It’s totally pro-atheism in the kind of leading questions you might ask a Christian. The author of the article is apparently a Christian and is powerful dismayed at the state of the church, almost as if Satan had something to do with this shift in priorities; this is not how to get young people back into church, and oh no!, what kind of wicked cheapened faith are they getting when they go???

          Here, it’s all like, oh, they’re leaving? What happened to wise council of god then? It must not exist, then, don’t you think? It’s a logical argument against Christianity with some mocking. No matter what they say, they don’t know what they’re talking about, it’s pointing it out to them.

          • http://www.rapture-orphan-rescue.com japanther

            Right, I got it right away too. I’m just saying that I could see how some people would be a little confused. Especially if they skimmed over a few sentences.

            By the way, I like the way you parsed it out too.

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess D

    To those atheists who insist there is no reason to TRY praying to God to show himself because he doesn’t exist – Your logic is circular! what if you’re wrong and he does! You can’t prove there is no God, and I can prove there IS a God by my testimony of having prayed to him to be healed of diseases by the Holy SPirit, not doctors or medicine, and being instantly healed. How else to explain that – mind over matter? Faith in stones doesn’t work – they can’t heal. Many Jews pray to God to be healed and don’t – that’s becuase God wants them to ask it in Jesus name to testify as to who Jesus is – the savior and son of God with authority to answer prayers. Jesus said “if you ask anything of the father in my name, I will do it. God has specifically spoken to me, telling me to rebuke illnesses in Jesus’ name, I did it, and it worked. THe only other explanation would be a counterfeit spirit of some kind, as opposed to Jesus or the God of the bible. Hallucinations don’t heal you. Statues of Buddha don’t heal you either-they are false Gods. I was specifically healed of a sexual disease when I repented of sexual immorality. I felt heat go through my whole body, knew I was healed, and God told me not to sin again or it could return. This is consistent with what the God of the bible says about sexual sin Real faith is not blind, it is based on experience and relationship, not just belief. That’s why you can’t shake it easily. You start that relationship by being openminded enough to consider the possibility that God is real, Jesus may be the messiah, and the bible may be true. as you make efforts to find the truth, God responds to it. Read my books at 1prophetspeaks.com

    • Nox

      Most of the atheists here used to be christians. A lot of us stopped because we did try praying to god, and nothing happened. If your imaginary friend makes you feel better that is your business, but when you show up in a room full of people who know more about your religion than you do, and tell them they have never given god a chance, you make your god look even stupider than he already did before you got here.

      • 6uldvnt

        this

    • Yoav

      We heard the same claims of miracles and healing from jews, muslims, buddhists and any other religion for ages, and all of them have the same amount of evidence for their claims as you do.

    • http://www.thathurtsmyears.blogspot.com/ michael

      You pray to god and THAT’s proof? he-he-he! You can not prove anything concerning spiritual matters, silly. You’ve got your christian god mixed up with the god of the Jews. Both gods ARE false gods created by man to release the “chosen” of their guilt. And if there is an eternal spirit, it would NOT fall into place according to what you want it to do. Be careful judging others lest you fall into the trap of judging yourself. Sin?……what the dickens is sin? According to I John 3, if you do still sin…….ooo, are you in deep sh*t trouble!

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess D

    Michael – you said to visit a psychiatrist. they are mostly atheists, whose goal is precisely to destroy people’s faith. I have written a book exposing the atheism behind psychiatry, and God’s answer to it. You can read it on my website at 1prophetspeaks.com; Manual for Transformational Healing-God’s Answer to Psychiatry. IF you’re a gnostic and pentacostal you’re confused about truth from the Holy Spirit. Gnosticism said the heresy that Jesus did not come in the flesh, and the bible says this is from the antichrist spirit, a lie. If you’re pentacostal, pray in tongues and let the holy spirit talk to you about this.

    • LRA

      *double face palm*

    • Ty

      Somewhere, a sack of hammers is feeling sorry for you.

    • http://twitter.com/BillZBub BillZBub

      The incredibly rare TRIPLE-fail?

    • 6uldvnt

      holy CRAP you are looney-tunes!

    • Blue

      Is insanity as magical a place as you make it appear? I sure hope so.

    • trj

      Yep, psychiatrists have an agenda of destroying people’s faith, but the Holy Spirit has seen right through them. Sounds really clever, that spirit. Or did you figure this out by yourself?

    • Sunny Day

      okeythxbai, off to the spaceship with you!

    • http://www.thathurtsmyears.blogspot.com/ michael

      Gnostic thought revolves around the belief in the spiritual message behind the words in the New Testament, without having to read the damn thing! Personal spiritual evolution is far more important than worshipping god , going to church and following some really decadent and old fashioned stupid laws. If Gnosticism is a lie then the apostle Paul(a Gnostic) was a liar and therefore most of the New Testament is FALSE! Perhaps you should investigate the writings of Elaine Pagels. Gnosticism isn’t heresy……modern day christianity IS! You are going the wrong way.

      • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

        I dare you to make less sense.

        • http://www.thathurtsmyears.blogspot.com/ michael

          Why bother? You wouldn’t understand. What’s so wrong with the concept of the separation of god and religion? Is your brain too small to conceive of the possibility? The fact is YOU make no sense.

    • http://www.Rapture-Orphan-Rescue.com/ Japanther

      This pathetic attempt at link-building has been the charade all along. The website’s URL mentioned over and over is going to boost her google rankings. If I was a mod here, I would slightly edit the references to be mis-spellings or whatever. This was troll bait, and every keyword she typed helps her to brainwash others. Change ’1′ to ’2nd’… it will really piss her off and thwart her efforts here. We have to do that at 7chan all the time. It will make her realize that at least this one time, her efforts were a complete waste of time.

      Profiteeress, Good luck in space.

  • Welcome2TheInternet

    I just laughed so hard that I am crying.

    Seriously, if you need to poop, don’t follow this link until afterwards.
    http://www.1prophetspeaks.com/STE-000.mp3

    Protip: skip to 5 minutes into this song for maximum laughter. I can’t tell if it’s hebrew or speaking in tongues, but either way it’s god damned crazy and awful.

    I tried to contact miss profiteer, but she did not answer her phone.

    d, prophetess
    700 park ave
    new york, NY 10007
    US
    917-776-4958

    (skype for best results when phoning crazies.)

    • LRA

      Well, (917) is a cell phone… maybe she had it turned off???

      :P

      • Welcome2TheInternet

        nah, It rang 4x

        • LRA

          Hmmmm. She was screenin’ da callz den….

          • Welcome2TheInternet

            I have a feeling she will answer soon. Tomorrow smells answery.

            • LRA

              LOLOL!!!!!

  • http://1prophetspeaks.com prophetess D

    For the record, all the books and articles on my website are free.Jesus said “Freely ye have been given,freely ye shall give”

    • Tabbie

      Freely I decline your offer. Thanks, but no thanks. Jesus never uttered the word “ye” nor any other Old English word. What he did say is debatable but not worth the effort since it is irrelevant today.

  • http://www.mothlightcreative.com Daniel W

    Interesting article…
    I am interested to read the book in its entirety. These interviews and the first free chapter online are at the very least intriguing.

    shameless plug.
    check out our “hipster Christianity” view of the establishment.
    http://vimeo.com/8537137


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