Damn, I’ve Been Labelled

I have always doubted that I – as a blogger and a person – fit into any  category. It looks like I might be pigeon-holeable after all. I might be a “Christian Hipster.” There’s no one sentence definition, but some of the defining traits sure fit.

For instance:

Christian hipsters don’t like megachurches, altar calls, and door-to-door evangelism. They don’t really like John Eldredge’s Wild at Heart or youth pastors who talk too much about Braveheart. In general, they tend not to like Mel Gibson and have come to really dislike The Passion for being overly bloody and maybe a little sadistic. They don’t like people like Pat Robertson, who on The 700 Club famously said that America should “take Hugo Chavez out”; and they don’t particularly like The 700 Club either, except to make fun of it. They don’t like evangelical leaders who get too involved in politics, such as James Dobson or Jerry Falwell, who once said of terrorists that America should “blow them all away in the name of the Lord.” They don’t like TBN, PAX, or Joel Osteen. They do have a wry fondness for Benny Hinn, however.

I can give a hearty amen to everything in that paragraph. Well, not the part about Joel Olsteen. He’s awesome. Every time I watch him, all I can think is that if I’d just stayed in divinity school (and had some serious dental work done) I coulda been Joel Olsteen.

That’s not it, though:

Christian hipsters like music, movies, and books that are well-respected by their respective artistic communities—Christian or not. They love books like Resident Aliens by Stanley Hauerwas and Will Willimon, Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger by Ron Sider, God’s Politics by Jim Wallis, and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. They tend to be fans of any number of the following authors: Flannery O’Connor, Walker Percy, Wendell Berry, Thomas Merton, John Howard Yoder, Walter Brueggemann, N.T. Wright, Brennan Manning, Eugene Peterson, Anne Lamott, C.S. Lewis, G.K. Chesterton, Henri Nouwen, Soren Kierkegaard, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Annie Dillard, Marilynne Robison, Chuck Klosterman, David Sedaris, or anything ancient and/or philosophically important.

Again, I say, amen. On the book shelf behind me are books representing at least twelve of those authors. My cat’s name is Merton.

The worship preferences are dead on:

Christian hipsters love thinking and acting Catholic, even if they are thoroughly Protestant. They love the Pope, liturgy, incense, lectio divina, Lent, and timeless phrases like “Thanks be to God” or “Peace of Christ be with you.” They enjoy Eastern Orthodox churches and mysterious iconography, and they love the elaborate cathedrals of Europe (even if they are too museum-like for hipster tastes). Christian hipsters also love taking communion with real Port, and they don’t mind common cups. They love poetry readings, worshipping with candles, and smoking pipes while talking about God. Some of them like smoking a lot of different things.

I liked thinking and acting Catholic so much I became one. In fact, nothing irritates me more than Catholics who act protestant. Really, the only thing that doesn’t fit me on this one is the part about the Pope, the current version of which I consider a pompous buffoon.

Still, no label is perfect:

Christian hipsters love breaking the taboos that used to be taboo for Christians. They love piercings, dressing a little goth, getting lots of tattoos (the Christian Tattoo Association now lists more than 100 member shops), carrying flasks and smoking cloves. A lot of them love skateboarding and surfing, and many of them play in bands. They tend to get jobs working for churches, parachurch organizations, non-profits, or the government. They are, on the whole, a little more sincere and idealistic than their secular hipster counterparts.

Not much here fits me. That sort of worries me. Most of this is the real “hipster” stuff. Cycling is fun, but compared to skating and surfing it’s dorky. Unless you’re Lance. So I might just be a Christian nerd, rather than a hipster.

Then again, I do work for the man in a kind of idealistic profession. And I have no tattoos or piercings of any type, which I think is a real mark of being a hipster. I mean, those things are so au currant that to have one is to advertise yourself a a unthinking follower of the herd. (That I used a mixed metaphor only demonstrates my ability to think for myself). You might as well ride a Harley. So maybe I am a hipster.

Or I might just be a guy who finds lots of things interesting.

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