John Wilson responds to “Hipster Christianity”

The other day, I linked to a piece from the Wall Street Journal written by Brett McCracken, author of a new book titled Hipster Christianity.

John Wilson, editor of Books & Culture, responds to McCracken’s piece. Part of his critique:

To write a book about would-be hipsters, you have to be hip yourself, even as you are criticizing those who aspire to hipness. It’s a tricky balancing act. In his role as hipster-scold, McCracken arches a brow…

Wilson suggests McCracken is creating shadowy figures when there aren’t any (“Evangelical Christian leadership”), doesn’t have figures to back up claims that such efforts are “increasing,” and reaches an untenable conclusion:

“We want real”: The combination of pretension and naïveté in this declaration is stunning, but it is par for the course, so to speak, in the McCrackenverse.

Would Wilson argue that such things are not going on in Evangelical churches? Is the issue the broad claims McCracken is making with limited data or that McCracken is critiquing attempts at being hip while still trying to remain hip?

Young evangelical says churches shouldn’t strive to be “cool”

In the Wall Street Journal, 27-year old evangelical Brett McCracken suggests churches shouldn’t try so hard to be cool:

If the evangelical Christian leadership thinks that “cool Christianity” is a sustainable path forward, they are severely mistaken. As a twentysomething, I can say with confidence that when it comes to church, we don’t want cool as much as we want real.

If we are interested in Christianity in any sort of serious way, it is not because it’s easy or trendy or popular. It’s because Jesus himself is appealing, and what he says rings true. It’s because the world we inhabit is utterly phony, ephemeral, narcissistic, image-obsessed and sex-drenched—and we want an alternative. It’s not because we want more of the same.

McCracken sounds like he is suggesting the church should be counter-cultural rather than go along with the culture. This seems fairly obvious given the radical message of Christianity – it is difficult to reconcile this with today’s American culture. But churches also want to attract members and the glitzy and glamorous ways to do this seem attractive.

Follow-up questions: does this approach from churches lead to long-lasting attendance or spiritual growth? Is “real” what most emerging adults are looking for in church and religion? And what is “real” anyway?

McCracken recently published a book titled Hipster Christianity that further examines this issue.