Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Bookshelf:Bret McCracken's Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide

Just the word hipster can stir up annoyance in someone. Most will probably not read this book because the title includes hipster in it. I felt pretentious just carrying the book around. The thing there are some good observations in the book that apply to people beyond hipsters. Most teens may not identify as hipsters, but most of them have the want to be cool to the point it can over ride other aspects of their life like their spiritually, the thing is this book is going to be mostly only be picked up by who identify with the term hipster even if they don't call themselves that. The book has much to offer to a wider audience though.

Summary: Can the church and cool coincide? Christianity is being embraced by people who may conform to hipster ways, but this could mean adopting some questionable lifestyles that include things not conducive to the Christian lifestyle. In order to appear in with the crowd they will come off as if they aren't even living a Christian lifestyle. Not only is it affecting individuals though, but the church is also trying to appeal to the cool crowd, and this means they are involving more arts and pop culture in their programs, and sometimes it fits, but sometimes it makes the vibe very forced. So how do you appeal to a crowd who's mindset is to be cool without trying to look as if you are trying too hard?

Characters: I did enjoy the book, and I thought McCracken laid out his views very well from chapter to chapter. He uses passages from articles and quotes from authors, but I felt the book was lacking a bit in actually talking from the audience it was directed to. Maybe direct statements about how people who identify as more hip would have put the book in more solid foundation. They can give opinions on why they attend this church, or don't at all, or the reasons behind their interests. Nothing that McCracken stated about that group of people was wrong, but quotes from that audience do make the book more solid at least for the target audience. Instead the book looks at the perspective of hipster much more seriously than I expeced. For some he might even be analyzing it too seriously, and where humor is intended it doesn't always translate well.

Writing: The writing is good. I like the facts that McCracken provides as well. I felt at certain times that he was repeating some points he already made though, and when another part of the book reads just like the prior part of it the book loses the ability to be as impacting. Plus, it's very hard to to take the subject of hipster completely seriously, or even analyze it as seriously as this book does. It makes some great observations that are helpful for those wanting to get involved with ministry directed toward that audience, and it gives that audience something to relate to, but it feels like the book could be a little loser in it's approach.

Plot: The book grows quite well as you read. You start out with thoughts on what makes a hipster, where they mostly reside at, and why they most likely are living where they do. I know for some this would just be hard to read or get into though. The book though is written as if it isn't talking to hipsters, but maybe in a way that is a good thing, because a hipster won't pick up this book because they believe they are a hipster, but more so because internally they know without ever speaking it and they are curious to read this book and then tear it apart in comparison to their lifestyle. I like how the author goes beyond just what a hipster is though to moving on to some of the churches in the U.S. that have changed their format to appeal to them, and what exactly makes a hipster as passionate as they are about the interests they have.

To sum it up, if you're a hipster you will read the book, but find many flaws in comparison to your lifestyle to somehow tear it down, and if you're a person who isn't hipster then you'll be too annoyed to probably read through the book. The focus on one segment of a population, that is small, can leave room for people who are going to criticize the book for focusing on those they write off as not being too important anyways. For me personally I found the book easy to relate to as I have had many of the thoughts the book discusses. As long as you aren't in denial about what your interests are, and your faith then the book is a nice mix, and reminder of what to focus on.

Rating 7 of 10.

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