by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
Dwight Ozard, one of my best friends (who has since died of cancer), wrote an article in 1997 when he was editor of Prism Magazine, "America's Alternative Evangelical Voice," that relates to this topic of Hipster Christianity. The piece was entitled "Rethinking Church To Rescue The Gospel," and I pass it along because I love this line:
For those of us who still believe in the church, our job is not its defense, but its reform...What will that mean? I’m not entirely sure, but here are a few ideas. First, the solution cannot be cosmetic. Simply updating or altering our aging hymnody, liturgies or idiosyncratic language will not make us relevant. (In fact, superficial attempts at relevancy only magnify our irrelevancy in our ever-changing culture - nothing is more annoying than an old guy trying to look young and hip.) No, reform must reach to the core of our vision of what it means to be a believer in America or it will fail. We will fool no one.
McCracken is correct to differentiate between "the authentic and the wannabe." The clearest example to me is the prevalence of "worship bands" at churches. Do they pass the sniff test? In other words, I've been to churches where the people of that church grew up listening to rock/pop/folk music or whatever and the people in the band are obviously talented musicians and have a sensitivity to how to create a worshipful atmosphere. This can feel authentic. But then you go to another church where they obviously have a "worship band" because they feel they should and its a shoe that doesn't fit ... and it feels fake.
The YouTube video was made by a fan of Sufjan Stevens' "Abraham," from his Christian-themed album Seven Swans. Sufjan is pretty much the king of Christian hipsterdom (and one of the great folk musicians of the millennials). If anyone knows of other quality Christian music that passes the reader's "sniff test," please pass along.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.