Rod Dreher

UPDATE: Brett McCracken, author of the Christian hipster book, weighs in in the combox thread!Try this online quiz. Caveat: it’s intended for Evangelicals, so there will be questions that Catholics and Orthodox Christians can’t answer. What’s more, if you don’t know the world of CCM, or the names of major contemporary Protestant pastors/authors are unknown to you (as they were to me), you’ll be lost. Indeed, an Anglican friend who considers himself an Evangelical, and who put me onto the quiz, said he felt too constrained by some of the answers. I took the quiz, and here’s what it said about my Christian Hipster Quotient:

High CHQ. You are a pretty progressive, stylish, hipster-leaning Christian, even while you could easily feel at home in a decidedly un-hip non-denominational church. You are conservative on some issues and liberal on others, and sometimes you grow weary of trendy “alt-Christianity.” But make no mistake: You are a Christian hipster to at least some degree.

Shoot me now. I could not be remotely at home in a non-denominational church. And I don’t want to be a Christian hipster. Still, the site is kind of funny, in a Stuff White People Like way (for example). My friend reported his CHQ results as follows:

Low CHQ. You probably belong to the purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Christian establishment, even though you are open to some of the “rethinking Christianity” stuff. You seem to like edginess in some measure but become uneasy when your idea of Christian orthodoxy is challenged by some renegade young visionary who claims the virgin birth isn’t necessary.

My friend, who is about as far away from the “purpose-driven, seeker-sensitive, Hawaiian shirt-wearing Christian establishment” as anybody I know, says he has been to a seeker-sensitive church exactly once in his life, when he was attending a conference. He adds: “And I don’t think a person who questions the virgin birth is a visionary, but an ahistorical dolt who fears anything that sounds ‘too supernatural.'”Still, it’s Friday, people like these Internet quizzes, so have fun with it. I am still trying to figure out what it means that the Hawaiian shirt pastors are the “establishment” that self-styled Christian hipsters are rebelling against! To a traditional Christian — Orthodox, Catholic or Reformed — the idea that Rick Warren et alia represent a stuffy establishment is simply bizarre. But that’s American Christianity; we contain multitudes.UPDATE: I encourage you to read on in the “Anatomy” section, which is humorous and insightful, at least to someone like me, who is outside of Evangelicalism and to whom a lot of these social and cultural codes are unknown. I fall somewhere between the “Monied Yuppies” (because of my tastes in liquor, e.g., “monk-themed beers”) and “Bookish Intellectual” stereotypes, because of my reading list. What’s interesting to me, as a non-Evangelical, is that there is nothing particularly countercultural to be discerned about a Catholic or Orthodox Christian who drinks, or who is interested in Merton or Berry, or who finds “Mad Men” entertaining. Still, this is an interesting bit of cultural anthropology, insofar as Christian hipsterism, from an Evangelical perspective, appears to involve some dabbling into sacramental themes and tropes, and booze. I’d love to hear what my Evangelical readers think of it.UPDATE.2: Thinking about this further, it occurs to me that while I know both Catholics and Orthodox believers I would say are more or less hipsters, I don’t know any who conceive of their hipsterdom as in some sense related to their religious identity. They are hipsters who happen to be Catholic/Orthodox. Yet I also have to say that I can think of at least two Evangelicals I know of whose hipster way of dressing and thinking about themselves and their identities really is tied to their religion (both attend “emergent” churches). Is this your impression too? Is there such a thing as a Catholic or an Orthodox hipster, in the same sense as the author of this book has identified Evangelical hipsters? I don’t think so, but maybe I’m just not thinking hard enough. How would you identify a Catholic or Orthodox hipster? If it’s not possible to, and the “Christian hipster” designation really only says something about Evangelical culture, then why is it only a manifestation of Evangelical culture? IOW, what does it say about Evangelical culture and the way its constituted?Mind you, I’m not asking from a judgmental point of view; I really want to understand. I intuit that it must have something to do with the strong sense many American Evangelicals have of inhabiting a subculture, and it perhaps has to do with a sense of rebellion against the identity they’ve been handed — something that non-Evangelical Christians of the current generation don’t have much experience of. Again, if one were a hipster and a Catholic, it’s my sense that nobody within the Catholic community would think one had anything to do with the other, because it would be hard to see hipster intellectual or sartorial fashion as being a reaction against any kind of ideal that’s seen as central to what it means to be Catholic. The “Christian hipster” identity for Evangelicals suggests that there are within Evangelical culture some pretty strong models in terms of fashion, behavior, tastes (intellectual and otherwise) that one is expected to adopt to prove one’s membership in the tribe — and it’s those that “Christian hipsters” are rebelling against. But look, I dunno, I’m just an outsider who’s speculating. You tell me.UPDATE.3: Oh boy oh boy oh boy! It’s contemporvant! It’s growtivation! It’s “Sunday Morning”!

“Sunday’s Coming” Movie Trailer from North Point Media on Vimeo.

UPDATE.4: Brett McCracken, author of the Christian hipster book, weighs in in the combox thread!

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