Is Hipsterism Inherently UnChristian?

Jason Micheli —  November 21, 2012 — 4 Comments

Ask yourself: Do I communicate primarily through inside jokes and pop culture references? What percentage of my speech is meaningful? How much hyperbolic language do I use? Do I feign indifference? Look at your clothes. What parts of your wardrobe could be described as costume-like, derivative or reminiscent of some specific style archetype? In other words, is your style an anti-style?

I like beards.

And, as I’ve mentioned before, I home-brewed before it was trendy to do so.

That’s about where I part ways with the hipster movement- that, and being a tail-end Gen Xer, I’m too old for the movement.

Take a look at seminary campuses, however, and you will see the hipster’s intentionally cultivated look of antiquation everywhere. It might lead you to conclude the trend is but a form of Christian subterfuge.

And yet….and yet…perhaps at root there’s something about hipsterism that’s deeply at odds with the Christian faith.

Consider the argument made in the NY Times by Christy Wampole:

The irony of the Hipster is the most self-defensive mode, as it allows a person to dodge responsibility for his or her choices, aesthetic and otherwise. To live ironically is to hide in public. It is flagrantly indirect, a form of subterfuge, which means etymologically to “secretly flee” (subter + fuge). Somehow, directness has become unbearable to us.

One of the points I like to make to couples preparing for their wedding is that marriage is a means of grace precisely because it forces us into a relationship of mutual vulnerability. Physical nakedness isn’t the only kind of nakedness required by marriage. There’s an emotional nakedness too.

And, in this way, I think marriage points out a deeper, more fundamental truth about what it means to be a Christian; namely, just as Jesus makes himself completely vulnerable to the Father and follows his path in faithfulness, we demonstrate our faith by our willingness to be vulnerable, genuine, real and authentic to others.

If this so then there’s something incongruent between following Jesus and following an intentionally defensive posture. 

Of course, maybe this speculation hits home for me because, while fashion may not be my thing, I am ironic to the core. What Wampole says about herself could easily be my own confession:

I find it difficult to give sincere gifts. Instead, I often give what in the past would have been accepted only at a White Elephant gift exchange: a kitschy painting from a thrift store, a coffee mug with flashy images of “Texas, the Lone Star State,” plastic Mexican wrestler figures. Good for a chuckle in the moment, but worth little in the long term. Something about the responsibility of choosing a personal, meaningful gift for a friend feels too intimate, too momentous. I somehow cannot bear the thought of a friend disliking a gift I’d chosen with sincerity. The simple act of noticing my self-defensive behavior has made me think deeply about how potentially toxic ironic posturing could be.

Realizing I’m guilty as charged, I wonder if it’s not, after all, a bad thing that, as my 6 year old son likes to point out with glee, it only takes a 20 second trailer of The Blind Side (‘You threaten my son, you threaten me’) to get me to weeping like a baby. Seriously. 

I’ve always been embarrassed by falling prey to such a saccharine movie but now I wonder if it might not be good news.

Here’s the full article by Wampole.

 

Jason Micheli

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4 responses to Is Hipsterism Inherently UnChristian?

  1. Not sure if everything about our personalities needs to be poignant. I think there is room for light-heartedness. But I think you aren’t saying that really. And I do agree that we should find ways to realize how to live more authentically when it is the cultural norm to not. Always narrowly defining oneself by a tag like hipster, and conforming ones life around that particular projected image is telling of a whole list of personal issues that would do to be worked on. Thanks for the post.

    • I agree not everything has to have meaning. I know my clothing choices rarely do!
      I do think choices (hipster ism) that are so total may indicate something more indicative as the article suggests. Thanks for the comment!

  2. I gave a friens of mine Star Wars shot glasses for her wedding.

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