Key Dates in the Formation of Hipster Christianity

How did today’s Christian hipster come to be? Here are some key dates in the formation of hipster Christianity:

June 5, 1955: Francis Schaeffer opens L’Abri.

1967: The Living Room coffeehouse opens in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury district; origins of Jesus People movement.

1969: Larry Norman’s Upon This Rock (Capitol Records) is released; major release of a “Christian rock” record.

June 21, 1971: The Jesus Movement is profiled in Time magazine article, “The New Rebel Cry: Jesus Is Coming!”

1971: First issue of the Wittenburg Door (or The Door) is published by San Diego youth worker Mike Yaconelli.

1971: First issue of Sojourners is published.

June 17, 1972: “Christian Woodstock.” During the Expo ’72 evangelistic conference sponsored by Campus Crusade and held in Dallas, a day long Christian music festival draws a crowd somewhere between 100,000-200,000 and features the music of Love Song, Larry Norman, Randy Matthews, The Archers, Children of the Day, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson.

1977: Ron Sider publishes Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, which will become a classic among later generations of Christian hipsters.

June 18-20, 1984: JPUSA holds the first Cornerstone Music Festival in Grayslake, Illinois.

1984: Thomas Howard publishes Evangelical is Not Enough, charting his pilgrimage from evangelicalism to liturgical Christianity.

July 21, 1984: Christian metal band Stryper releases its first EP, The Yellow and Black Attack, launching a successful career which included one Platinum and two Gold records.

1984: Degarmo & Key’s video “Six Six Six” is the first Christian music video selected for rotation on MTV, and almost as quickly banned for excessive violence and disturbing images.

March 9, 1987: U2 releases The Joshua Tree, cementing their status as the world’s most epic pseudo-Christian rock band.

1988: DC Talk, a trio of students from Liberty University, signs a recording contract with Forefront Records.

November 1993: Brandon Ebel founds Tooth & Nail Records.

October 1995: Mark Noll publishes The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind.

April 1997: Pedro the Lion releases first EP, Whole.

January 2003: Christian satirical website Lark News is launched.

March 1, 2003: Relevant publishes its first issue.

2005: Sufjan Stevens’ Illinois is named the best album of 2005 by Pitchfork and countless other secular music critics.

February 2006: Shane Claiborne publishes Irresistible Revolution.

February 18, 2006: Icelandic post-rock darlings Sigur Ros perform a sold out concert at Calvin College.

(Excerpt from Chapter 4, “The History of Hip Christianity,” of Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide)

Note: This post is part of “Know Your Christian Hipster History” week… Throughout the week, if you re-post a FB item from Hipster Christianity (tag Hipster Christianity in your post) or tweet a link to a Hipster Christianity post (tag @brettmccracken on Twitter), you’ll be entered in a drawing for a free autographed copy of the book. 5 books will be given away on Friday!

7 responses to “Key Dates in the Formation of Hipster Christianity

  1. One you missed. Not sure of exact year, but it would be around 1977: Release of “Awaiting Your Reply” by the Resurrection Band (later known as the Rez Band), the first truly hard rock Christian album, banned immediately on many Christian radio programs merely because of music style.

    Another would be c. 1970 founding of Love Inn in Freeville, NY, by former NYC disc jockey Scott Ross. Though lesser known than west coast Jesus communes, Love Inn had tremendous influence in developing the arts among Jesus People. For one thing, it spawned the Phil Keaggy Band. It was also the home of musician-songwriter Ted Sandquist, whose album “Courts of the King” anticipated the 90s contemporary worship music boom by almost 20 years.

  2. May 17, 1971: the musical “Godspell” opens off-Broadway.

  3. If I grew up during the ’60s and ’70s, no doubt I would be one of the Jesus People. In fact, you can usually find me wearing a Woodstock t-shirt and a big wooden cross around my neck!

  4. Godspell is a good call. Helped to bring the Jesus Movement into pop culture.

  5. In the music industry: The release of Jars of Clay’s first album (1995) which crossed over into the secular market and whose videos were on MTV. I would add that this album influenced the whole music industry too.
    In the music industry: The release of P.O.D’s album, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1999). This album was so successful that it crossed over to the secular market. I realize that their style of music is not necessarily a hipster style it does stand out as a significant mark in the Christian music industry.
    What do you think? Do these two music bands deserve a mention in the history of the Christian Hipster movement?

  6. Oh, I thought of another important date:

    2002 – mewithoutYou release their debut album, “[A–>B] Life”

  7. Unfortunately, many free online music can not be downloaded legally, because they are subject to copyright. There are also consequences for anyone caught illegally downloading and distributing the music of others.
    Once you stumble upon the music you can download legally, so there is a risk that is loaded with virus, spyware and adware. There are also ethical concerns for Christians who want to download music legally authorized.
    How to find free Christian music can be downloaded legally, then?
    Your best bet is to find an online site that hosts indie Christian hymns. These songs are free to control other people, no producer or record companies involved.

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