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Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide Paperback – Bargain Price, August 1, 2010
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Top Customer Reviews
Now that I've read McCracken's book, I have mixed feelings about it. His WSJ piece, on a second reading, remains a beautifully concise indictment of the Christian hipster subculture, but the book is a much more muddled affair.
The book begins with a "history of hip" that purports to trace the ancestry of today's hipsters. I wasn't convinced by McCracken's summary of that ancestry; it was very, very short and jumped between seemingly unrelated "cool" movements. I have to guess the research involved was scattershot. The following chapter on the history of cool since the 1960s is much better, but still not comprehensive. In what is perhaps the book's most entertaining chapter, McCracken sketches the most common kinds of hipster. McCracken then examines the birth of "Christian cool" among the "Jesus People" of the late 60s and early 70s as well as the modern heirs of their culture.
The second section of the book examines Christian hipsterdom in the present, including summaries of McCracken's visits to numerous hipster churches in both the United States and Great Britain. He also examines the "emerging church," which he describes as a movement already falling by the wayside, and the "missional" movement which is supplanting it.Read more ›
Brett writes with a touch of wit and wry sarcasm, and he drops named like Dennis Miller on speed. But again, I warn you, don't buy this book if you're in a dying church and you're hoping to steal some "cool-points" and rev up your congregation. This is not a "how-to" book.
Paul Grant defines cool as: "I am an individual; you are a clone. I know what's really going on here; you don't. I can get out of here; you can't."
The book chronicles the rise of "cool" through church history, from Godspell to Stryper to Relevant Magazine; Brett has really done his homework. That said, I would also offer the book is extremely dated - Brett lists several "hipster" churches, their pastors, books, fashion and "where hipsters hang out" in his book - all of which will surely change in the years (months?) to come as fashion forward moves... well... forward.
Interestingly enough in Brett's "hipsters today" he describes my hipster personality "type." Turns out I am the Detached Ironic. "Media savvy...class-clown...with an ever ready arsenal of witty remarks...popular in large groups... distant in close personal relationships... blogger."
And while you may shun the "hipster" title and decide that neither church nor Christians need be relevant or cool - you may also find yourself (or your church) described within Brett's book (unless you're over 50).
Brett says the reason he wrote the book was because he loves the church. "I want to see her thrive, expand and be all that she can be for the world.Read more ›
Needless to say, not exactly an authoritative approach.
The result of his uneven narrative is a book that seems to blatantly ignore major forces affecting Christianity in the world today. If you knew nothing about these forces but read this book, you'd come away thinking hipsters were about to take over the church. The reality, of course, is that hipsters are a minor -- perhaps even infinitisimal -- force in Christianity. Whether or not you agree with them, people like James Dobson, Rick Warren, Joel Osteen and Franklin Graham have an immeasurably greater impact on Christianity than the sum total of all Christian hipsters today. The rising influence of prosperity Gospel preachers, too, undercuts the entire premise of "Hipster Christianity." But the book largely ignores these forces. Thus, it lacks basic context.
In addition, the author seems to allow his own (acknowledged) hipster biases to disproportionately inform his writing. That is, for example, he invariably emphasizes obscure Christian hipster music artists as examples of how hipsters' influence on the religion is burgeoning. In reality, though, hipster musicians like Sufjan Stevens -- whom McCracken clearly adores -- have little impact on the Christian music industry, not to mention the religion itself.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Excellently written and researched. I have yet to find another "pop Christian" book that has more research put in or the same level of clarity and transparency. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Megan Cleve
Thought this book was a great mix of satire, analysis, and conviction. A refreshing take on how the Church should engage culture.Published 4 months ago
I can't say enough good things about the writing of Brett McCracken. Thoughtful, contemplative, and articulate. A must read!Published 4 months ago by Drew
It would have been better to put everything into an article in a magazine. Whatever points he made were really drawn out. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Matthew Vallee
I don't read much for fun, and that could easily make or break this review. However, this book was rather slow. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Marcos Gonzalez
Lukewarm, feel-good christianity. Nothing about the message of Jesus, God or the Holy Spirit.Published 14 months ago by J.M.H.
A fine survey of a range of topics and ultimately I think Brett makes a valid point that we as the church need to stick to being committed to Christ and the church, regardless of... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Jorjette Hatfield