Friday, September 03, 2010

a “surface” book: hipster Christianity

I don’t like doing book reviews. It takes time to read a book, sit with a book, contemplate a book. So books I get sent to review tend to find their way to my pile of good intentions.

But I’ve just got my copy of Hipster Christianity. When Church and Cool collide by Brett McCracken and it demands a different approach.

Here is a whole book dedicated to people’s outward appearances. It visits a few churches and counts the goatees and the screeens. So in honour of a book glossing over people’s surfaces, I’ll give this book a quick surface read and review.

Here is a book that judges people, and churches, based on their outward appearances! If they look hip, then they might have sold out to culture! Really. What is culture? Oh, it’s the surface appearance, what people wear and look like. Really. I couldn’t find a single reference to any meaningful cultural theorist. Sigh! Check again through the bibliography. No, hardly a writer from outside the surface of US Christianity.

As I leafed it, the Bible story that came to mind was Samuel’s anointing of David and that gorgeous refrain “People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” This is a book that looks at the outward appearance.

I know I really should look more deeply at this book. But to do so would seem a betrayal of it’s essential method: that you judge a person and a church by their cover.

Posted by steve at 09:22 AM


  1. “If they look hip, then they might have sold out to culture.” Is that really one of the book’s main hypotheses?
    I wonder if the author has considered the boomerang effect: Namely, that he implying that there is a dress (or appearance) code to be adhered to. In other words, he is trading one “culture” for another.

    Comment by Ryan — September 3, 2010 @ 10:57 am

  2. agreed. hey – might see you in durham to hear you speak

    Comment by andrew jones (tallskinnykiwi) — September 12, 2010 @ 4:42 pm

  3. would be grand
    if you’re there i’ll have to sharpen up my hipster graphics! 🙂
    the number of times we have oh so nearly connected —


    Comment by steve — September 12, 2010 @ 4:54 pm

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