Here's an annoying post from Brett McCracken, defining the term "Christian hipster." Annoying because I read it and realized I fit the definition — right up to my discomfort with labels like "Christian hipster."

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.

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 love the part about "thinking and acting Catholic" and "taking communion with real Port." 

About The Author

Alisa Harris

0 Responses to I’m a “Christian Hipster”

  1. Bria says:

    Oh, help. This is one of the funniest and most accurate things I’ve read in a long time.

  2. Alisa says:

    Haha, Mark. If ANYONE is a Christian hipster, it’s you. That whole “smoking pipes while talking about God” thing? I’m not that bad.

  3. Kirk says:

    So everyone except for Pentacostals and Independent Fundamental Baptists are Christian Hipsters?

  4. Alisa says:

    Kirk — Everyone I hang out with a Christian Hipster, but my guess is that Christian Hipsters isolate themselves in insular Christian Hipster bubbles.

  5. Kirk says:

    Yeah, that’s kinda what gets me. With the exception of “loving the Pope,” and “iconography” it sounds like he is describing every major Christian tradition higher than the average Baptist.

  6. leon Bloder says:

    Wait, crap. Those are like all of my favorite authors. F.
    He forgot cool, black glasses like Rob Bell’s. I have a pair.

  7. Matty says:

    I guess I’m a “Christian Hipster”… funny, I always thought it was just us Episcopalians… 🙂


  8. Whitney says:

    Wow, that describes pretty much ALL of my classmates. Although I’m not really a big fan of those authors. I tend (and always have) to go on my own authorial tangents.

  9. John W says:

    I’m totally amused by this, if only because it’s true. Granted, I’m not a huge fan of the above authors, but I lean decidedly Catholic in practices and, like Leon said, I have a pair of Rob Bell glasses.

    The bit about loving art not appreciated in respective communities— totally me. Explains the couple years of worship toward Radiohead.

  10. Bart says:


    So, basically, I’m a baptist (albeit reformed), and this is a pretty good description of me.

    So hilarious…wait—STOP LAUGHING AT ME!

  11. D.L. says:

    So glad someone shed light to this ridiculousness that has been defined as “christian hipster.”

    Pardon my opining but i feel that many young christians are about “being into” or “respecting” or having “knowledge” about all the aspects about christianity that are a byproduct of a relationship with Christ. The irony being that without a relationship with Christ, all the things that they’re “into” is non-sense. It’s the christian version of Secularism’s “religious eclecticism”.

    blah, i’ve said enough.

  12. Mark P says:

    I think there’s a little more to it than that.

    As for myself, I am more than little weary of the absolute crapfest that the Protestant Christian subculture has become. That industry produces bad music, bad book, and bad art. It’s no wonder that my generation has found that a less than inspiring.

    Beyond that, I’ve also found the modern-age individualism of Protestantism very problematic. I’m an Anglican now, because I do like the via media… I can be a Protestant and yet hold to tradition.

  13. David says:

    Well said. I dislike hipsters and the hipster garb that is the new “brand” for graduates of the CCM generation. But I do think we can be Protestant while honestly, thoughtfully moving away from individualism (I’m also Baptist —> Anglican).

  14. James W says:

    I would counter-propose that none of the cited things are actually what makes someone a Christian hipster, an oxymoron if ever there was. I think Brett should have stated more forcefully what he only alluded to in that first bit; that the reason these things are consumed by Christian hipsters is because they are respected and popular.

    The trouble with hipsterism is that it places the social-perspective value (popularity) and asthetic value ahead of any (1) qualitatively substantive value, (2) mature subjective value or (3)socially contributive value.

    How many people read and praise Tom Wright or Leslie Newbingen for no other reason than because Brian Maclaren or Shane Claiborne do? God help us.

    These examples are theologians and their theology should be assessed theologically, not by social popularity.

    The problem with hipsterism isn’t what they read, it’s the absence of deep criteria in why and how they read it. It is every bit a problem of cultural (or subcultural) celebrity eclipsing slow, discerned and disciplined evalutation and appropriation.

    Many of these things, though popular to certain tastes as they may be, are wonderful things. Some – or parts thereof – are not. Some of them are even popular for good reasons. But maturing Christians must learn to see that most of the good (especially the costly) will never be popular. That Bonhoeffer’s notion of costly grace is so cheaply popular today should give us more than a little pause.

    Just because the water seems to be heading that way doesn’t mean it is somewhere we want to go. The deep irony of this list of figures in particular is that many were catagorically unhipsters or antihipsters of their own eras (or at least during their periods of greatest contribution). I’ll leave the 18 year olds to get some lip infections from their pipes over the next couple decades to discover why tobacco is less cool that a Doyle novel suggests and challenge anyone who is so impressed by the Eastern Church to balls up and sit through 3 hours of full Orthodox mass a week for a year and see if you still think it is so great. Enthusiasm doesn’t mean squat unless you’re still there when it’s time to pay the bill.

    Sinning will always be cool; being a sinner under judgment has a funny tendency to offend people’s sense of cool and hip. I expect following Christ mostly begins where hipsterism dies.

    Smoke that.

  15. Pete says:

    Pretty much anything and everything can be labelled by someone with too much time on their hands. Frankly we’re all boxable to a degree (I know we dislike the thought) but – whatever. It’s when we strive to fit the box or category that things go awry.

    The Fundamentals were good until the fundamentalists got ahold of them and I liked evangelical (still do) despite the rise of evangelicalism.

    Cultural fads come and go and many are wrapped around good things…so if I fit this new hipster definition yay for now…it’ll likely change.

  16. Mark P says:

    James W,

    Honestly the path you suggest sounds conducting like a science experiment rather than reading a good book.

    “…the reason these things are consumed by Christian hipsters is because they are respected and popular.”

    Presume much? There’s certainly some truth in that statement, maybe even a lot, but I don’t think anyone (including even the “consumer”) could possibly know why someone consumes what they do. And what does popular mean in this case anyway? Popular with whom?

    I tend to read, listen to, watch, eat things that people I like and respect suggest. Does this mean I’ll be judging on a “social-perspective value” rather than “qualitatively substantive value,” “mature subjective value,” or “socially contributive value”? I have no idea, because I have absolutely no idea what any of that jargon means, though my analytical skills suggest that you prefer the latter categories to the former.

    “The problem with hipsterism isn’t what they read, it’s the absence of deep criteria in why and how they read it.” Ah, yes, the deep criteria. “slow, discerned and disciplined evalutation and appropriation.” Personally I think Flannery has high qualitatively substantive value and mature subjective value, but then I haven’t really considered the deep criteria of whether Flannery scores a 75 or 90 in the category of socially contributive value.

  17. Trin says:

    Just an fyi… McCracken is publishing a book expanding on this. I’ll keep you posted if you’d like. 😉

  18. Hauerwas? C.S. Lewis? Chesterton? Kierkegaard and Wright?

    It seems as if McCracken’s net is so big it can’t help but engulf a significant amount of Christians.

  19. Levi W. says:

    “Don’t kid yourself, we’re ALL wearing costumes here.” – Frank Zappa

    i don’t think he was only talking about clothes.

    (this from a huge fan of kiergegaard and chesterton, naturally.)

  20. M. Pope says:

    Lucky for you, hipsters never label themselves as such. Unfortunately, this makes you the worst kind of poser — somebody who actually wants to be a hipster.

  21. Your MAMMY says:

    The average “Christian” hipster doesn’t know a thing about the Bible, because their church is too busy performing silly skits and stupid musicals instead of teaching God’s word.

  22. Great post but I was wondering if you could write
    a litte more on this subject? I’d be very thankful if you
    could elaborate a little bit more. Thank you!

Leave a Reply

Set your Twitter account name in your settings to use the TwitterBar Section.