Cool vs. Christianity

To celebrate the fact that in about a month (on Aug. 1), Hipster Christianity will finally be released, I thought I’d post something that, in a sense, summarizes one of the main points of the book. Over the course of my research and writing about “hipster Christianity,” some have questioned my assertions that “cool” doesn’t really go well with Christianity. Just as we are beginning to crawl out of our fundamentalist ghettos and gain legitimacy in the eyes of culture, why am I spoiling the party by saying we (Christians) shouldn’t be cool? Can’t Christianity be both hipster AND soundly biblical? Well, yes, in some rare cases (see Ch. 12: “Authentic Christian Cool”). But there are far more points at which cool and Christianity clash. In fact, there are very few attributes they share in common. No wonder “cool Christianity” frequently becomes so awkward and ugly! It’s like mixing oil and water.

Read the following list of juxtaposed attributes of “cool” and “Christianity,” and tell me if you think I’m wrong to suggest they are fundamentally contrary ways of being.

Cool: Self-obsessed
Christianity: Selfless

Cool: Vain/narcissistic
Christianity: Giving/altruistic

Cool: Self-sovereignty
Christianity: Submitting to God

Cool: Exclusive club
Christianity: Inclusive/open to all

Cool: Elitist/arrogant
Christianity: Humble

Cool: Alienating
Christianity: Inviting

Cool: Transient
Christianity: Transcendent

Cool: Focused on Now
Christianity: Eternal

Cool: Style is king
Christianity: Substance is king

Cool: Cutthroat
Christianity: Trustworthy

Cool: Ironic
Christianity: Earnest

Cool: Hedonism championed
Christianity: Asceticism/sacrifice championed

7 responses to “Cool vs. Christianity

  1. Thanks for this, Brett. I think you’ve hit a major point of the stark contrast between cool and Christianity. Whenever humans form a clique/club, and any type of status is attached to it, it immediately violates the spirit of what Christ lived and taught – to be first, you must be last, and the servant of all. This is why churches that become clubs/social circles that exclude others are not being truly Christian, even though some might call them “cool.”

  2. I’m not sure I agree with all of those. Of course, I’m also not very cool–so I’m not a good authority. Is narcissism cool or is it simply a common vice among those who consider themselves cool? Should Christianity focus primarily on the eternal or should we feel more urgency about the Church’ s mission? Is it cool to be cut-throat or does that just make us enemies? If we’re focussing on mistakes people make when trying to be cool, do church’s make the same mistakes (arrogance, alienation, focus on style, narcissism) while insisting they are faithful?

  3. you haven’t described “cool”…you’ve described “human”.

  4. I think you’ve described “hip” rather than “cool.” Genuinely cool people aren’t narcissistic posers and assholes. Genuinely cool people are not afraid to be sincere or passionate.

    Hipsterism, though, is certainly not compatible with anything righteous (using any definition of the word righteous.)

  5. I see where you are going with this, but I’m not totally on board your argument. Cool is clearly a subjective term and I’m interpreting it in my own way, but some of the coolest people I’ve ever met are cool precisely because they have NO IDEA they are cool. They are humble when they have every right (by worldly standards) to be arrogant. They are inclusive without exhibiting any perceived risk of their coolness decreasing.

    I would argue that most of the things you describe as cool are affected qualities of insecure people who want to be perceived as cool.

  6. Narcissistic, self-obsessed people are not cool.

  7. Yes, I see all your guys’ points, but I think the writer is using the generalized “cool” since it can actually be interpreted many different ways. I mean, I think Jesus was down right cool and he doesn’t embody any of the above. I think we all can agree that when we consider pop/western culture as a whole, there really is a general definition of “cool” and the writer hit the nail on the head, more or less.

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