Author: Brett McCracken
Can cool and Christianity survive together? Brett McCracken does an excellent job answering this question in Hipster Christianity. First after giving us a definition of cool McCracken does an excellent job of journalism in tracking the origins and development of cool. Then McCracken turns to consider the sad history of Christian cool. While this initial work was fascinating in many way I most enjoyed McCracken’s theological analysis of the marrying of cool and Christianity, that is after all why he laid such extensive groundwork. For those who are annoyed or confused by the first two sections you really must read all the way through. In the end McCracken basically says that such a marriage is unholy, but then goes on to give a very nuanced explanation of how they can coexist.
Let’s think for a minute about what Christianity is and why it doesn’t make a good “product.” For one thing, products must be subject to markets, yet God is not subject to the consumer needs or wants of any market. God only and ever deals on his own terms. His grace comes from within him and is bestowed on us as he pleases. It doesn’t come when we are ready for it or when we long for it. We struggle to fathom something that can’t be purchased “on demand” in this day and age, but Christianity is one such thing. God saves at his discretion and on his watch.
Another reason why Christianity doesn’t make a good product is that it doesn’t lend itself to an easy commercial sale. Sure, there are appealing things about it, but there are also not-so-appealing things about it (um… taking up one’s cross, avoiding sin and worldliness, etc.). And although the Gospel is wonderfully simple in the sense that even a child can recognize its truth, it is also mind-blowingly complex in a way that doesn’t lend itself to thirty-second jingles. Marketing requires simplifying, cutting out all friction and obstacles to a sale, and focusing solely on the beneficial, feel-good aspects of a product. To market something is to empty it of all potentially controversial or difficult elements, which is maybe not the best method of communicating the gospel…