When someone is asked to verbally describe a hipster, they just blurt out names of various musicians and manufactured goods. For me, these thirty-second conversations end abruptly and have been extremely insufficient. The challenge is being able to decipher who they are at the core and what they stand for. In search of answers to many of these questions, I borrowed Hipster Christianity, written by Brett McCracken, and found quite a few surprises. Through this three-part blog series (The History of Hip, The Practice of Hipster Christianity, and Problems with Solutions) I will share what I have learned from McCracken, and what he has learned from others. Hopefully with this knowledge no one will have to set hipster traps to find out who the true hipsters are. As you can already tell I will be using links to help guide you on the interweb. These posts will already be longer than I like, so these can help explain things that require time and knowledge. If you don’t care, just ignore the fact that some words are different colors than others.
I believe the best way to tackle a conundrum is to start with definitions. However, I must preface that the words cool, hip and hipster come fully loaded with preconceived notions and I encourage you to think of these words as a guide instead of the be-all and end-all.
Merriam-Webster: Fashionable, hip.
Urban dictionary: The best way to say something is neat-o, awesome or swell. The phrase cool is very relaxed, never goes out of style, and people will never laugh at you for using it; very convenient for people like me who don’t care about what’s “in.”
Merriam-Webster: Having or showing awareness of or involvement in the newest developments or styles; very fashionable.
Urban dictionary: Cooler than cool, the pinnacle of what is “it.” Beyond all trends and conventional coolness; the state of being in-the-know, including, but not limited to, being stylish or fashionable.
Merriam-Webster: A person who is usually aware of and interested in new and unconventional patterns.
Urban dictionary: People in their teens to twenties who generally listen to indie rock, hang out in coffee shops, shop at the thrift store and talk about things like books, music, films and art.
These shortened definitions, which I took directly from McCracken’s book, are important to me because they blatantly show the sin of wanting to be better and look better than the person standing next to us. We all want to be ahead of the pack and this aspect of our human condition can almost summarize the hipster phenomenon that has swept our generation and many others before us.
How else do you explain the yearning for the newfangled iPhone or the desire for a new wardrobe every three months? We can’t always blame marketing and peer pressure; we have to investigate and probe our hearts. Hipsters are unsatisfied when they’re part of the pack, they want to find themselves in something undiscovered and unknown. Do you see this in your own heart? I know I do. We must shake ourselves out of this self-loving and the-world-revolves-around-me attitude!
A verse that I was reminded of is Romans 12:1-5 (ESV).
A Living Sacrifice
1 I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Gifts of Grace
3 For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. 4 For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Timothy Keller writes that we need to realize that we are all the same. How? Because we are all saved by Christ, yes even non-Christians. He also says, “start your self-appreciation by remembering who we are in the gospel.” By doing this we see that we are not clones, but God’s beautiful workmanship.
Lord, thank you for the reminder that our identity rests in You. Help us be mindful in our journey through culture, but within your commands. Guide our thoughts and help us be wise in the way we perceive ourselves and those around us.