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September 24th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

My Take: The Curious Case of the Christian Hipster

Editor's Note: Brett McCracken is author of the recently published Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide. He works as managing editor for Biola University's Biola Magazine and writes regularly for Christianity Today and Relevant. He comments on movies, media, and popular culture at his blog, The Search.

By Brett McCracken, Special to CNN

I grew up within conservative evangelical Christianity, and I’m thankful I did. But throughout my youth - and indeed, even now, at 27 - there are things about it that made me bristle. Things like televangelism, angry political picketing, boycotts, horrible Christian movies, copycat Christian music, anti-intellectualism, hyper-politicized discourse, “Left Behind” hysteria about the “end times,” and “hell houses” (don’t ask).

For many of my peers who grew up within this peculiar milieu, it was enough to sour them on Christianity entirely (lamentable, but understandable). But for many others, it simply urged them to rediscover the heart of the faith and explore Christian identity in terms that felt more pertinent to the world around them.


This impulse among younger generations of Christians has led to, among other things, a subculture which we might call “Christian hipsters.” They are Christians who seek to cultivate a strong aesthetic sensibility and intellectual rigor, things that were largely put on the back burner in the church of their youth. They are sooner found at Radiohead or Arcade Fire concerts than at Christian music shows, prefer contemporary art galleries to Thomas Kinkade showrooms, and exercise Christian “fellowship” through conversations about Sartre over fair-trade coffee or a round of craft beers.

Christian hipsters tend to serve scotch at their small-group Bible studies, and are largely supportive of such things (mostly good things, I might add) as locally grown produce, thrift stores, fixed-gear bikes, Jon Stewart, traveling abroad, Wes Anderson films, Wendell Berry books, and tobacco (in all forms except chewing). Many of them are also very image-conscious (in the way that most hipsters are), carefully selecting the right pair of Toms shoes, styling the “tangled/tussled/you’d-never think this cost $50” hairdo, and perfecting the paradoxical “fashionable-but-not-store-bought” wardrobe.

Not all of these Christian hipsters are necessarily trying to be hip, which is an important point. Your average Christian hipster is simply attempting to authentically explore their identity as a Christ-follower who is also an embodied, expressive, creative human being.

But as earnest and understandable as this quest is, there are still things to be cautious about. How does being “cool” or “hipster” fit with what Christianity calls us to? How does the self-focused pride of “cool” fit with the self-giving, other-focused humility of the Christian life? What do we do about the alienating, off-putting character of hipsterdom, which signifies elitism and tends to exclude (even if unintentionally) all those not “in-the-know”? How does this work in a church setting, which of all places should be a site of inclusion, love, and community unshackled by the burden of cliques and “I’m hipper than you” strata? And what of the values of vice and rebellion so seemingly central to the hipster way of life?

These and other questions about the collision of church and cool are addressed in my book, which I wrote as an attempt to document this “Christian hipster” moment and understand the ideas and circumstances feeding into it, but also to raise questions about the very nature of “cool” and how it corresponds to the Christian life.

Is “Hipster Christianity” a contradiction? Are “cool” and “Christian” fated to forever be in tension? Maybe. But maybe not.

There are many positive things that Christian hipsters bring to the faith. They are largely driven by a curiosity about the world and appreciation for culture, for example. They see creative and academic pursuits as God-given and God-honoring in themselves, recognizing that “secular” things - Bob Dylan albums, Rothko paintings, Steinbeck novels, a good Pinot Noir - can be edifying for the Christian life, simply because they are good, true, and beautiful.

I’m also encouraged by the impulse of Christian hipsters toward issues of justice, service, and social welfare. They’re pushing the church to get outside of its fortress walls and get its hands dirty in service of others. For them, the gospel isn’t just something to proclaim from a pulpit; it’s also something to live out, in love and service, for “the least of these” in a needy world.

This might mean spending a semester of service in places like Uganda or Haiti, or it might mean starting up a grassroots ministry to meet the needs of a local community - as some friends of mine in Los Angeles did with “Sock the Homeless,” handing out clean new socks to the vast homeless population on L.A.’s Skid Row every Sunday morning at dawn.
Christian hipsters are motivated by a genuine desire to follow Christ and to reconcile their faith in his gospel with what they know, love, and deem important in the world. As much as “hipster Christianity” is subject to serious questions about the hazards inherent in any generational uprising, it’s also a prescriptive, potentially significant moment in the ongoing story of church-culture relations.

What does it mean to be a Christian in this world? How “set apart” and different must we be? Christian hipsters are having this conversation - or rather, they’re living it. And the rest of us should probably pay attention.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Brett McCracken.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Christianity • Culture & Science • Opinion • United States

soundoff (405 Responses)
  1. RSandman

    @ Bob Benson.......does not Jackdraw use sciene to prove science by quoting scientist? His reasoning is circular also!

    September 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • David Johnson

      No, science is based on the Scientific Method. Religion is based on belief and faith.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:52 pm |
    • Flora

      It's still circular reasoning. What you just said is the same as "my orange is better than your apple because it came from an orange tree".

      September 24, 2010 at 5:41 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Flora

      Your logic is faulty, but what can we expect from someone that beleives in fairy tales. But I will try to educate...

      The Scientific Method is an objective transparent way that theories can be proposed, tested and challenged by anyone that wants to. Theories, methods and results are openly shared and debated, and only theories that withstand intense scrutiny become accepted.

      Religion is based on made-made/written books, mostly hundreds of years ago (when the most educated people knew way less than a 5th grader), has been proven to be wrong many many times, but has not substantially changed.

      September 24, 2010 at 8:12 pm |
  2. mattymatt

    Whether it's a function of my own maturation or an actual shift, I've definitely seen a movement towards "culture-relevance" in the church in the last 10 years os so. I grew up in the 80's-90's when playing Castlevania on my NES was seen as "Satanic", or listening to Secular Radio was a cue to back-sliding ... lol.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:33 pm |
  3. bg in oregon

    There are just more people with imaginary friends (and some even claim to hear voices). Why does anybody care what they say, do or think? They need help, not positive reinforcement.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:32 pm |
  4. Rev. Dr. Alden Marshall

    Although I relate very well to your article, I am convinced most of us Christians see ourselves as hip. But it is much more important to pray for deeper and deeper layers of repentance, and to be more irritated at our own sins than the sins of others. And it is vastly more important that we are booted out of pastorates for being historic Christians than because of our generation(or our own obnoxiousness or sins), since that has happened in every generation throughout history.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  5. james thompson

    I think Christ would be pleased.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:26 pm |
    • patioplr

      I completely agree. There is stuff in here that'd really get some people fired up, but I think this is what Christ had in mind for our relationship with Him. Be yourself, love others, follow God.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Joey

    ❤ this article. I have known and admired christian-hipsters, but never put a name to it. Makes sense.. I will check out the book. Love!

    September 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
  7. SkBooster

    As a 33 year old Christian who refuses to go to church, I like some of this article. This article started off so well and ended so badly. Christian hipster is what I used to call the "Christian nerd." Drinking scotch at a Bible study? How about a joint at Communion?

    Brett McCracken needs a crack with a paddle across his back side so he can grow up: either become a Christian or become a hipster. You can't be both son.

    By the way, get a hair cut you hippie!

    September 24, 2010 at 1:15 pm |
    • Jay

      "Brett McCracken needs a crack with a paddle across his back side so he can grow up: either become a Christian or become a hipster. You can't be both son."

      HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

      September 24, 2010 at 1:28 pm |
    • Whateva

      Exactly my feeling.

      Funny coincidence, (if CNN ever approves my response) I referenced my Dad getting saved while smoking a blunt (it's been a while ago). Also, I usually refuse to go to Church, but my wife can be so persuasive.

      Dang, I'd start smokin weed if my faith and being hip were really this interdependent.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • David Johnson

      Typical fundie. Hurt the infidel 'till he sees the light.

      You god does not exist.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • CD6910

      You seem typical of the "I can make the rules about what it is to be a Christian" movement which is the result of the Protestant Reformation. Going to Catholic Mass is about Jesus and the the Eucharist, remembering and sacrificing, and therefore an obligation. When you take away the Eucharist from a Christian religion going to church is nothing more than a gathering. I would agree and say why do you need to go then?

      September 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Scott

      SK God created the Church. because he knows that we can not do life alone with all of the temptations of the world. The Church is to challenge you further along in your walk with Christ daily. And the Church is the bride of Christ. Important!!!!.
      If you can not find a church locally to serve in or like. check out http://www.newspring.cc It rocks we just did a 80's series. To have fun (I know i'm wierd) and 518 people saved in one day. Check it out.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:12 pm |
  8. Jerrod

    Discernment is what I pray for everyday & something about this article made me bristle. I am waaaay to young to be as conservative as I am. Must be the Holy Spirit guiding my path.

    September 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • craig hampton

      Amen Jerrod. Thank Jesus daily

      September 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm |
    • simply question

      I second that! Amen!

      September 24, 2010 at 7:28 pm |
  9. Bill

    Wow, that first paragraph says it all! I've often wondered why does the ultra-con wing of christians have to be so...(refer to first paragraph of article). Seriously?

    As for the christian hipsters, they are a fun group, but I've never really totally fit in with them. I think my professional job in the financial industry, my stubborn conservative political leanings, and my resistance to seasonal fads makes me a kind of outlier. But I do call many such people friends, albeit not my closest ones.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
  10. Nicole OKC

    I used to work at my church and I feel like the higher ups are SO afraid to make this change from "NO SECULAR" to "embrace and enjoy your culture". Young pastors are dropping like flies becuase they get so fed up with the Baby Boomer pastors shutting them down – not only becuase of young pastors' "secular hobbies", but because of the anti-intellectualism that older pastors want to stay away from. What is the future of pastoral leadership? Seriously, in 20 years when the old pastors are dead or retired, or at the very least irrelevant if they're still around, who is going to lead us? Because a lot of the awesome young pastors become disillusioned, and abandon what I think will be a great movement over the next 20 years in Christianity.

    Great article, thank you.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      Become individualy strong. Do the right thing because it is the right thing, not because a charlatan or a book written by men says it is.

      We do not need religous leaders. We do not need religion. We need leaders that are not biased by tribal beliefs.

      September 24, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  11. Iswimnaked

    You pathetic people are only christian because you were born in the west. If you had been born on the other side of the world you'd be hindu, or muslim, or shinto, or whatever. Your faith is nothing but an accident of geography!

    As an atheist, I entirely repudiate the notion that faith, or religion, as a system of belief, is the root of all evil, but I'm ready to agree that organized religion is a major source of hatred and violence; the same could be said for corrupt and malevolent political parties, in contrast to the political ideologies upon which they are based.

    Point is, I convict that our destructive human nature is solely to blame, not religion, not economy, not politics, only our herd mentality and susceptibility to corrupt words of false leaders.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:49 pm |
    • Michael

      ...? This has nothing to do with the article.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:04 pm |
    • Joanna

      Athiests are always trying to shove it down everybody's throats. Maybe it's payback for the Crusades or something but let it lie man. Some of us don't buy your disenfranchised "center-of-my-own-universe" mumbo jumbo. Blah blah, big words, try and sound smart and yet don't believe in anything. Not too appealing.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:12 pm |
    • Lauren in LA

      Shocking as it may seem...God loves you, too. Independent of geography.

      Cool thing is...you have the freedom to choose NOT to love Him back. Bummer is...YOUR "afterlife" or whatever you want to call it...will definitely suck. (In fact, it sounds like your current life is a little love-less and kind of sucky.) I'm using my freedom to choose to love God back. And I feel really lucky I DID grow up in the Western world!

      Are some murderers religious? Yep! Are some murderers atheist? Yep! Were any Christians murderers? For sure! Paul, formerly Saul, was a mass murderer. We're talking Taliban, Al-Qaeda-like murderer. Guess what? God loved him, too, and thankfully Saul, now Paul, figured out that life really sucked without God, so he willingly turned himself around. Not a wussy decision, if you ask me.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:27 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Lauren in LA

      Why is your god better than the Islamic god? What proof do you have that either one exists?

      September 24, 2010 at 1:36 pm |
    • Bob

      @Lauren in LA Clearly God doesn't love everyone equally. Look at the situation he puts the starving children in Africa in. Look at how the people in the Middle East are stoned. Why would a God who loves everyone equally treat eveyone completely different. Why wouldhe grant me a nice home, a large salary and lots of friends, while causing a newborn infant in africa to be born with aids and die a slow, horrible death?

      The answer is that he doesn't love everyone equally. You have just convinced yourself he does, despite the situation of people around the world.

      Wake up.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:06 pm |
    • Mary

      Man, this person needs some peace in their heart -they are truly struggling with anger and hatred issues. When someone you love dies in front of you or just passes away I hope you will fall to your knees and know they are with the Lord and accept Him too. When someone you love is dying or ill I hope you turn to prayer. Otherwise what do you do ,just wish them well? How sad not to bring healing or peace to them in their time of need. How sad that you live your life not knowing the peace He brings and that there is life after death in His Kingdom.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:36 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Mary

      You said, "Man, this person needs some peace in their heart -they are truly struggling with anger and hatred issues. When someone you love dies in front of you or just passes away I hope you will fall to your knees and know they are with the Lord and accept Him too. When someone you love is dying or ill I hope you turn to prayer. Otherwise what do you do ,just wish them well? How sad not to bring healing or peace to them in their time of need. How sad that you live your life not knowing the peace He brings and that there is life after death in His Kingdom."

      A few years back, my niece passed away. She lingered for a time, mostly in a coma. Many people prayed for her recovery. They prayed in Jesus's name and for his sake.

      One night she died. I passed by her bed and whispered, "I loved her."

      As I was coming out of her hospital room, I glanced in the room opposite hers. Standing there, was a man who was well into his 90's. He was a shell of a man. But, he was alive. My niece was 18. She was dead.

      I mentioned this to the preacher from the church her parents attended. He said, "It was part of god's great plan". We humans just couldn't understand it.

      At my niece's funeral, this same preacher talked about how her dieing during the Christmas Season, meant this was her best Christmas ever.

      He said she was sitting at a table with Jesus, dressed in the finest linens.

      I walked out.

      There is no god. No heaven. No hell.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Gnosis

      @ iswimnaked...Christianity didn't start in the West. It started in Jerusalem and overflowed into the known world by way of example and martyrdom. Also, not everyone born in India is Hindu, not every Chinese is Bhudist, and not every Italian is Catholic. Please do not attempt to rationilize your impeded thinking by geographical profiling. Furthermore, God doesn't believe in atheists. He loves you and so do I. :} <

      September 24, 2010 at 3:33 pm |
    • Religion is for the ignorant

      What does that even mean? god doesn't believe in athiests? I thought he was omniscient, is he not aware of my presence?

      September 24, 2010 at 5:04 pm |
  12. JT

    Religion is, in fact, keeping people (Christians) from God. The closed-door Christian mentality is shifting to an open mind view of the world where an intimate relationship with God is more important than a "church's" doctrine. Since the reformation Christianity has largely relied on people coming to us. We were secluded from the world and safe in our church buildings. This is in contradiction to how the first apostles lived and has done the Truth of Jesus a disservice. In an attempt to appear relevant to the world some in the church have tried to use creative 'worldly' things like secular movies and music and add a Christian spin on them to try and reach the lost while ignoring the creativity living and breathing inside of them through the Holy Spirit and yearning for a fresh expression that will emit His love through the arts. It's time to get out and live on the fringe and let God's expression be known through us to reach a lost and dying world through unconventional means that the conventional church will most likely resist. God is doing a new thing. And we need to join Him.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:40 pm |
  13. Ben Wilson

    I am not sure Jesus came to be cool or fit in. He came to love and serve others. He had a right to be anything he wanted as God's son–he chose to lay down his life for others. I think Jesus calls us to love each other and serve humanity–not so much to drink fine wine or look at nice paintings.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:33 pm |
    • Michael

      I agree with what you said...but i don't think drinking fine wine and looking at paintings is mutually exclusive of loving and serving others. Like everything else we do, it's a matter of the heart. If your motives are Christ centered while drinking wine and buying fair trade coffee, then heck yeah, right on. But if you are doing it to find your comfort and acceptance in other humans and not in Christ, then you are no longer giving yourself only to Him. I think there are "hipsters" on both sides of the argument here, and I say that because I KNOW people that are on both sides.
      -M

      September 24, 2010 at 1:02 pm |
  14. Chris

    Bravo Pete...... Bravo!!!!
    I couldn't have said it better myself.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
  15. Sherman

    Great article showing the generational differences on how his generation's Christian worldview responds with our place in society now. People change but God's message remains the same

    September 24, 2010 at 12:26 pm |
  16. The Jackdaw

    Nobody had to disprove that Zeus and Hera don't exist, but nobody believes that anymore. Eventually, the same will happen to the Christian God. It will be outmoded by logic and reality.

    September 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Moose McDowell

      You know little about human nature to say something like that.

      September 24, 2010 at 12:50 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Moose

      I think he pretty much nailed it. What he didn't so though is that, unforunately, today's god(s) will probably just be replaced by some other god(s) (god is love, or whatever Deepak is pushing, for example), rather than waking up to the fact that THERE ARE NO GODS – NOT EVEN JUST 1!!

      September 24, 2010 at 12:57 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      Actually you are incorrect in 426 AD, Augustine of Hippo wrote the City of God, and the meaning behind this book was to clearly point out the errors of the Grecco Roman Gods, in this book he does exactly the opposite of what you say will happen to christianity, he logically proves that there can only be one God and that Jesus Christ is his son. In fact, in many ways this book seems like is was written in modern day, as you can see the comparisons between Pagan and Philosophical beliefs to that of the media and Scientific communities today. I also find it comical that some use the argument that history and science can disprove Christ or God, when if nothing else history has proven that itself can be changed or at least appear to have changed. Afterall, history and science are only a accepted till something new is discovered which proves old ways of thought in accurate, and while to some christianity is no different, than i ask is it really christianity that changes or is it the people who make up christianity who changed. The core of christianity has always been the message of Jesus, and if you read the bible you can clearly see that he only preaches of love,forgiveness and repentance. Anyone who says differently or uses supposed christians actions to say this is not true has not really looked into the message of Christ. We are all capable of extreme and evil things, christian or not we all experience the love and wrath of God together. But as Augustine states, "There can be no greater or worse death than when death itself never dies." Avoiding this is why Jesus was sent as a sacrifice for us, if only we would accept him.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:10 pm |
    • Bob Benson

      Michael's argument is circular, using a Christian philosopher as proof of Christianity. The Jackdaw is always logical and relevant, from what I have read of his posts. I haven't seen him quote ancient text to make his point either, indicating that he can think for himself.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:18 pm |
    • Opine737

      Don't hold your breath for that to happen....

      September 24, 2010 at 1:19 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Michael Dillon

      Okay, I'll take your challenge. You get with your god, and get him to come up with your best argument that He exists.

      Lay that argument on me. How can I debate a god? So I will await you. Amaze me! Amuse me!

      September 24, 2010 at 1:25 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      Bob, apparently Logic and reason can change over the course of time, if a christian cannot use a christian author as a source, than how can the world use science, philosophers and authors to claim God doesnt exist. If ones own opinion is based solely on what he reads and not experiences, then in some way we are all slaves to what we are fed. In a world where christianity is less excepted than killing unborn babies, I find it amusing that you say I cannot think for myself, when christian views are totally opposite of the masses.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
    • Bob Benson

      If Christians thought for themselves, they wouldn't praise ignorance.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:35 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      David, let me ask you this, why cant there be a God, and also other that untrue christians, where is the error in the christian lifestlye, if one truly lives off of Gods word than all you can offer society is love, I have a much stronger argument, but my question is this, since life is so short and we cannot take with us anything that we gain or accomplish when we die, then what is the point in living the way of the world, if God says to Love above all else, what harm does a true christian do, and if none then why not pursue a similar lifestlye

      September 24, 2010 at 1:43 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      Bob how is God ignorance?

      September 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Michael Dillon

      You are making the extraordinary claim. It is up to you to show proof. I, nor anyone else can prove a negative.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:49 pm |
    • The Jackdaw

      In my opinion, there is nothing "wrong" with being Christian, Muslim, Jewish, or whatever faith you subscribe to. The problem arises when people find themselves, (or fail to find themselves), following blindly. Blind followers can be convinced to do evil things for the sake of their beliefs by individuals who utilize them for these deeds. I believe that all people should think for themselves when they are listening to the words of men who claim to be speaking in the name of a higher power, as often they are only speaking for themselves. The spirit of religion is always positive, but evil can often be forged from its good intentions. As to Michael's point regarding the purpose of life, loving is always a good way to spend your life as we are only mortal, but our actions and deeds can long outlast us. But loving can be accomplished by men and women of all faiths, and even those who exist without it.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:53 pm |
    • Bob

      @Michael Dillon the error in the Christian lifestyle is that they accept things merely because it's asserted, not because it's shown. Thanks for coming out.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:08 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      The Jackdaw, I agree with what you wrote, all people are capable of loving and through love your actions which will endure when you are gone will remain, however I think life can be so overwhelming that without God, its hard to maintain that mentality, I will not dismiss anyones beliefs, people are free to choose for themselves and God gave us that, so thats His role, all I want is for the world to stop lumping extreme supposed christians with true christians, a true christian wont judge but will stand up for peoples rights and not allow anyones rights to be stripped, a true christian will always know that he or she is one choice from being on the other side of this argument, but to say that christians are ignorant is a statement that only a ignorant person would say.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:15 pm |
    • Ed

      I find it funny that people believe don't accept that what we "believe" includes SCIENCE. Science can be it's own religeon. Ask Tom Cruise. Centuries before man thought the world was flat... Indians knew the world to be round. They also believed it to be on the back of an elephant standing on the back of a turtle floating in some cosmic sea. Greeks believed the world to be round and held on the shoulders of Atlas. Even the Bible states that the earth was a circle though some try to say that doesn't mean sphere... but who knows what they meant after 5,000 years. Point is, at some point... the smart folks decided it was flat because those old people were wrong and stupid. And Columbus supposedly proved that the earth was round and discovered America. Neither was the case. The Indians already believed it to be round... and people were already living in America. Claiming that science has now "proven" this or that really isn't impressive. There is so much we don't know and we may find out tomorrow that we were wrong yet again.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:27 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Michael Dillon

      You said, "since life is so short and we cannot take with us anything that we gain or accomplish when we die, then what is the point in living the way of the world, if God says to Love above all else, what harm does a true christian do, and if none then why not pursue a similar lifestlye"

      If Christians would be content to live and practice their faith in their homes, churches, schools, camps etc. I would not be on this blog. But, they are not content to do that.

      Like Islam, they must spread their religion, whether people want it or not.

      The Christian Right, through their puppets the Republicans, are working to convince the country, the founding fathers never meant to have a separation of church and state.

      The Christian Right would have the country be a theocracy. Jesus would be the head of state.

      Only the Christian Right would be able to hear Jesus, so they would tell us the will of god is.

      I would not enjoy a country ran by the Christian Right.

      Do you have any evidence god exists?

      September 24, 2010 at 2:54 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      @David Johnson, you mention people in your argument and the one thing you are missing out on is that people are alike and if not in the light and spirt of God we are all capable of doing harm. That being said, I dont think Jesus would like the way the church is today, in fact I would even go as far as saying that Catholicism in manfy ways is a cult, they pray to saints and have a saint for everything much like the pagans did and many of their teachings are based on interpretation of the word of God. Which then brings up an interesting point, if Catholicism isnt christian what is? Christianity is the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and through him all things are possible, now I could go on and on about why the true message of Christ is real, however this is a blog and my answers would not be in depth enough for real proof, to truly know what Christ is about means first be willing to admit two things, one that God loves you, and two that no matter how bad you are or what you do, the grace of God can save you. You ask for proof from God, yet from man or science you accept what they claim, no one can prove the big band theory, yet you accept Hawking's words, if scientist can influence society by their findings then can scientist can be influenced by their past experiences than its possible to say that their theories also can be derived from false science or their own perception of the world, the point is you say Christians are ignorant, but who is the more ignorant one who accepts something from man who in all his ways always seem to make mistakes or to put a trust and hope in a being that is far greater than anything science can prove, in something that encompasses all things and which all things are made up of, this being God, the mathematical chance that the earth would be in the exact position where it gets enough sunlight to exist but not enough to be destroyed is astronomical, it simply does happen by chance.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:28 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      in my last post I ended with it does happen by chance and it should be it does not happen by chance.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:31 pm |
    • Michael Dillon

      @David Johnson
      One more thing, if the message of Jesus was purely loving other people over yourself, and doing things for others as opposed to doing things for you self, then I think Jesus would be a great country leader, however in human weakness their is pride so, if a christian leader was in power, the fact that he is a christian does not matter because he still is a sinner and needs Jesus, so their could be pride and bad decisions made but that doesnt make him evil or wrong. I dont agree with how the christian community is either perceived or how they act all the time, but that does not make me for them or against them. each person is free to choose what he desires, christians might push God down peoples throat and thats not ok with some, so in that same respect I imagine those people dont like anything that makes them feel uncomfortable pushed on them, even if its not religious, otherwise why is it only God gets the short end of the stick. I think people need to look at all they see and listen to all they speak and realize we all could be on the other side, so let he who is without sin cast the first stone.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:54 pm |
    • HotAirAce

      @Michael Dillon

      Re: "if not in the light and spirt of God we are all capable of doing harm", I would add "and do even greater harm when in the light and spirit of god"... Religion is not required for morals and ethics...

      September 24, 2010 at 7:51 pm |
  17. Pete

    While I agree with most of what this article/commentos say – I think we as Christians have to be very careful how we frame this discussion.

    David Johnson said "God must be dressed in new clothes" – we might agree on that statement, but I'm not certain. I feel the church needs to evolve and meet the needs of it's congregation/community. However, I think we need to be careful about saying that God needs to change. God, the plan to salvation, and sin has,is, and always will be the exact same.

    Tollerance is great, but tollerance of sinful behavior is not. Trying not to ramble – I think we just need to be careful about taking Chist out of Christianity to make sure it's cool

    September 24, 2010 at 12:25 pm |
    • Todd

      Nothing about God or His word has changed nor ever will. Sometimes it seems that trying to be "cool" or "hip" is trying to follow the pattern of the world. Sorry, that's wrong. If it's not the Holy Spirit drawing someone and you think some new "wrapper" you want to put on God will, that's wrong too. It's still wanting to put ones own will over God's. That's all wrong.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Pete

      There really isn't a god. God is like Play doh. Man shapes Him, in any way he wishes. Check out the religions of the world, past and present.

      Man created god. God did not create man. Man can modify his creation any way we please.

      God is naked. Dress him Pete. Dress him as a child might her doll. Make believe you are going to a heavenly ball.

      When you are through, like the good child, put the god away. Cheers!

      September 24, 2010 at 1:01 pm |
    • Monte

      No man will say, "There is no God" 'till he is so hardened in sin that it has
      become his interest that there should be none to call him to account.
      ~ Mathew Henry

      September 24, 2010 at 1:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Todd

      You said, "Nothing about God or His word has changed nor ever will"

      If the fundie god is to survive, I think he better change:

      Science is making new discoveries on an almost daily basis. None of their discoveries include god.

      Evolution has replaced the creation story, to explain the diversity of creatures on earth.
      Carry this to its logical conclusion: If there was no creation, there is no original sin, there was no need for a redeemer...
      New theories are being developed that do not require god for the creation of the universe. I bet that stings! LOL

      There has been a 2000 year wait for their redeemer to return. He promised to be back in the 1st century.

      Prayer, that Jesus promised, doesn't work.

      The bible, their inerrant word of god, has errors.

      Their religious leaders are attacking children.

      Their children aren't happy in their traditional faiths.

      The young don't share their hate of gays.

      Church membership is dropping.

      Cheers!

      September 24, 2010 at 1:17 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Monte

      Ooooo! Cool quote. Here's some more for you:

      You can't convince a believer of anything; for their belief is not based on evidence, it's based on a deep-seated need to believe.
      Carl Sagan

      There's never anything, however absurd, that myriads of people weren't prepared to believe, often so passionately that they'd fight to the death rather than abandon their illusions. To me, that's a good operational definition of insanity.
      Arthur C. Clark

      If this is your god, he's not very impressive. He has so many psychological problems; he's so insecure. He demands worship every seven days. He goes out and creates faulty humans and then blames them for his own mistakes. He's a pretty poor excuse for a Supreme Being.
      Gene Roddenberry

      I find the whole business of religion profoundly interesting. But it does mystify me that otherwise intelligent people take it seriously.
      Douglas Adams

      All religions have this in common, that they are an outrage to common sense, for they are pieced together out of a variety of elements, some of which seem so unworthy, sordid, and at odds with man's reason that any strong and vigorous intelligence laughs at them.
      Pierre Charron

      Faith is believing things by definition, which are not justified by reason. It it were justified by reason, it wouldn't be faith.
      Colin McGinn

      September 24, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
    • Scott

      to David Johns
      You said, "Nothing about God or His word has changed nor ever will"

      If the fundie god is to survive, I think he better change:
      – The outer covering can change. people did not have pews at first, nor personal bibles, nor the piano, nor organ these were all controvsial items at one point or another.
      Science is making new discoveries on an almost daily basis. None of their discoveries include god.

      Evolution has replaced the creation story, to explain the diversity of creatures on earth.
      – This is my opinon – The bible's purpose is to show God's love, forgiveness, and salvation not how elements of carbon molecules came together to create life. People have read way to much into the creation story. Where did evolution come from (I dont mean Darwin theory). Could God have created evolution? I do not know. Why have creation work by evolution? why not have diverse animals and plants just be created from thin air.
      Carry this to its logical conclusion: If there was no creation, there is no original sin, there was no need for a redeemer...
      New theories are being developed that do not require god for the creation of the universe. I bet that stings! LOL
      – God created science. all of creation (the plants, animals, sun rise, etc.) gives glory to GOD.

      There has been a 2000 year wait for their redeemer to return. He promised to be back in the 1st century.
      – sarcastic you are wiser than God, WOW.// If God came back in the 1st century there would be a few hundred christians and some old testament people that did not turn away from God. You would not exist sorry me either.
      Prayer, that Jesus promised, doesn't work.
      – What prayer?

      The bible, their inerrant word of god, has errors.

      Their religious leaders are attacking children. Christianity was created by humans. humans sin.

      Their children aren't happy in their traditional faiths.
      – Good each Great Awakening has been created by the young generation.

      The young don't share their hate of gays.
      – That means people are becoming more like Christ who is love. You can hate the sin not the person.
      Church membership is dropping.
      – That is great it is called prunning. Jesus says "My father (God) removes the branches (people) that do not produce good fruit (heavens work)
      Cheers!

      September 24, 2010 at 2:57 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Scott

      You said, " sarcastic you are wiser than God, WOW.// If God came back in the 1st century there would be a few hundred christians and some old testament people that did not turn away from God. You would not exist sorry me either."

      Christ predicted he would be back in the first century.

      Fundies try to muddly the water on what to most everyone is very plainly stated. Christ said he would be back in the 1st century.

      The Preterists have come up with their own group believing this.

      Jesus was wrong. Probably cause he was dead. Dead makes you really feel like not doing anything.

      Prayer, that Jesus promised, doesn't work.
      You said, "What prayer?"

      Any prayer. Prayer does not work. Jesus talked a lot of smack about asking for anything, but bottom line is, prayer – NO Prayer- works.

      September 24, 2010 at 3:14 pm |
    • Religion is for the ignorant

      Thats true, they have actually done double blinded scientific studies to see if prayer had any benefit for sick patients.

      "Praying for the health of strangers who have undergone heart surgery has no effect, according to the largest scientific study ever commissioned to calculate the healing power of prayer.

      In fact, patients who know they are being prayed for suffer a noticeably higher rate of complications, according to the study, which monitored the recovery of 1,800 patients after heart bypass surgery in the US."

      Link: http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/article1072638.ece

      September 24, 2010 at 4:49 pm |
    • Ben

      This type of hipster/cool Christianity is certainly nothing new. Francis Schaeffer wrote about it in the 60s. He called it, "blue jean Christianity". I think it's unhealthy for the church in a number of ways. In short, it tends to produce a weak faith because it waters down the Word and replaces it with pragmatic, worldly concepts in order to be accepted. Christians need to stop trying to earn their "badge" of relevance from the culture and focuse on living to please God. The Holy Spirit will make it grow.

      September 24, 2010 at 6:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Michael Dillon

      You said, "who is the more ignorant one who accepts something from man who in all his ways always seem to make mistakes or to put a trust and hope in a being that is far greater than anything science can prove, in something that encompasses all things and which all things are made up of, this being God,

      Do you realize science has given you/us the quality of life we have today? Small Pox and Polio are nearly eradicated due to science. We have put a man on the moon!
      Yep, people make mistakes. The wonderful part about science, is that they learn from their mistakes. It is all about learning.

      Early man created god because he was afraid of death and he didn't understand much of what he found around him.

      Why does it rain? God makes it rain. Why does the sun cross the sky? God drives the sun across the sky. Why does the mountain rumble? God makes the mountain rumble.

      As man's learnings increased, he found god did not cause the rain. Evaporation caused the rain. Man found god did not drive the sun. The mountain sounds have nothing to do with god.

      Assigning to god, what man doesn't understand, is called "God of the Gaps".

      Unfortunately for god, every day, He has fewer gaps to fill. One day, He will be out of a job. Good thing he has carpentry skills to fall back on.

      I am confident science will one day be able to explain "everything". The theory of everything is being worked on right now.

      You said, "the mathematical chance that the earth would be in the exact position where it gets enough sunlight to exist but not enough to be destroyed is astronomical, it simply does happen by chance".

      There are on the order of 100,000,000,000 (one hundred billion) galaxies in the universe, as far as current telescopes can detect. Some of these galaxies may hold up to 100,000,000,000 stars, but most galaxies probably contain at least 10,000,000,000 stars.

      What would you say the odds are that there are not planets that are in the hospitable zone?
      In fact:
      For the first time, astronomers have spotted a cosy alien planet that might be hospitable to life. The planet is not much bigger than the Earth, and it enjoys balmy temperatures of about 20° C (68° F) as well as spectacular scarlet sunsets.
      Sounds like Eden huh? Nope, random chance. Not a god in sight. LOL

      Now one for you. If god created all the organisms on the planet, Why are there transitional fossils? Did god create prototypes until he got it right?

      September 24, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
    • tagnga

      Christians, who follow Christ’s example, don’t worry what the “world” thinks of them. Look at the posts/comments on this belief blog – Most of these atheists are obsessed with peer approval.

      September 24, 2010 at 10:57 pm |
  18. David Johnson

    I think this is just another sign of people being dissatisfied with religion. I think it a "half-way house", to leaving religion behind or at least on the back burner.

    Religion, if it is to survive at all, must evolve. The bronze age ideas must be modified or tossed out. God must be dressed in new clothes.

    Cheers!

    September 24, 2010 at 11:57 am |
    • ZOMG

      They're having a sale at Macy's! OMG!

      September 24, 2010 at 12:18 pm |
    • patioplr

      While I too have been dissatisfied with religion in the past (and not really growing any fonder of it), our Christian "religion" isn't meant to be as such. Jesus wants a relationship, not our religion. Jesus never proclaimed there is a set of laws a Christian must abide by to have a relationship with God and his gift of eternal life. All He said was to treat others how we'd like to be treated, and to love God with all we have. To let him take us over and live thru us.

      Other religions may need to change to adapt to the ever changing world around us, but Christianity is still relevant 2000+ yrs later (and always will be). People think they need to make a religion fit their lifestyle when Jesus just wants us to know Him and want to be with Him.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:30 pm |
    • manofsteel

      It is time people stand up and take control of their own lives. Be your own god and create your path. Stand strong in what you believe in and don't look back. You have very good points David. Most people are just too scared to chnge their life and reform like sheep to what they were taught as kids.

      October 1, 2010 at 3:14 am |
    • Frank

      "Be your own god and create your path."

      People being their own gods is the reason why the world is in such a sorry state. Once you worship yourself and view yourself as the ultimate authority in life, you can make up your own rules and to hell with everything else.
      The truth is we are not our own gods. The world and the universe at large do not depend on nor revolve around you. When you die, life will go on. And I'm not talking about if you were religious or not. That's beside the point. So don't think I'm saying to go join a church. But you had better have a good explaination for the One who created you about why you chose to be so self-absorbed rather than humble, doing your best to make the world a better place and giving thanks to the Creator who give you life.

      As the song 'I Will Be Light' by Matisyahu says: "Time will continue without you – so in the end, it's not about you, but what did you do? Who did you love besides you?"

      Peace.

      October 1, 2010 at 3:34 am |
  19. Dan

    "I grew up within conservative evangelical Christianity, and I’m thankful I did. But throughout my youth – and indeed, even now, at 27 – there are things about it that made me bristle. Things like televangelism, angry political picketing, boycotts, horrible Christian movies, copycat Christian music, anti-intellectualism, hyper-politicized discourse, “Left Behind” hysteria about the “end times,” and “hell houses” (don’t ask)."

    I'm 54 and been in many facets of ministry for 37 years. I agree with everything you say above. I usually have something controversial to say but maybe that's it; that I agree with you. Thanks for saying it for me. My life saying is, "Who we perceive God to be determines how close we get to Him". The Church (we Christians) have not done a great job of communicating who God is and thus people run FROM Him instead of running TO Him. DT

    September 24, 2010 at 11:52 am |
    • Robert

      Thanks.

      September 24, 2010 at 12:20 pm |
    • Steph

      I really liked your life saying, "Who we perceive God to be determines how close we get to Him." So true!

      September 24, 2010 at 1:06 pm |
    • Bob

      It's not that you haven't done a great job communicating God. It's just that as the average education level of society rises, so too does the drop in religion. Why? Because more and more people say "Why should I believe this?" And answers like "you'll go to hell" or "do you know how the universe was made? NO? Let me tell you, God." are quite frankly unacceptable. Here's a test. Prove to me how your faith is correct while others are not.

      September 24, 2010 at 1:44 pm |
    • Julie

      It's love, Bob. The true religion is love. The spirit of God is love. We know God when we love one another. A good tree brings forth good fruit and a bad tree bad fruit. It you read what Jesus said and did, it was all about love. Love God and love each other. Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them that dispitefully use you and persecute you. Not many people can reach that kind of love, but God loves us enough to forgive us when we don't. Amazing. I've been a Christian for 40 years but haven't been inside a church in all that time...because I don't feel God's love in those places.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:14 pm |
    • andrew

      Dan, good call. Glad to hear that someone not our age feels a bit the same.
      Bob, following Jesus is about faith (lived out through action) and belief (a stance taken on experiences had and information obtained). While I can't prove to you every facet of the Christian faith in a single test tube, it doesn't mean it is anti-intelligence nor for the less-learned of the world. Your comment almost answers your question – those looking to be the smartest have looked to themselves for all the answers and don't really take "need" into the equation. When need arrives, there must be someone to answer that need. Greatest need, greatest being to answer it.
      Julie, I am so sorry that you haven't felt loved in the church. I am glad that you are still with Him and lean on his Word. But God seemingly wants us to be part of the local expression of the church. How might you explain Jesus commands to build his church, to disciple, etc?

      September 25, 2010 at 3:56 pm |
  20. Saladin

    I think most people of any sincere faith are undergoing this sort of questioning and exploration right now. The world is changing at an accelerated rate. Our faiths are generally among the slowest to change. How do we reconcile that? How do we remain true to our beliefs yet true to who we feel we're meant to be in the world?

    September 24, 2010 at 11:26 am |
    • Tommas

      Just do what religions have done in the past. Change the religion: Nature spirits no longer make sense therefore it must be human like gods.. multiple gods living on a mountain is not likely therefore it must be one god living in another dimension... evolution explains how life was created I guess it must be creationism. This problem is nothing new to religion, the solution is just make more stuff up!

      September 24, 2010 at 12:31 pm |
    • navigating

      @Saladin I believe that if we hold the broad points of our religions dear that it is very easy to navigate our way through this world. When looking at the problems that were presented in the Holy books we can clearly see that the struggle is with making peace while staying truthful and basically overcoming bullying (either from Kings or people with big egos) and all of this while meeting our basic needs and perhaps getting some of our wants. I think when we stop looking at the details as *the only* answer and start looking at *a way to being peaceful/respectful/honest* as more of the answer we have solved some of our problem and are on the road to solving the rest. Best of luck with this one..... it is all of our struggle.

      September 24, 2010 at 2:16 pm |
    • nobodyspecial

      The real question is how could you allow yourself to worship an image a caricature?

      September 24, 2010 at 2:19 pm |
    • Andrew

      Great questions, Saladin (nice blog, too). I have read Brett's book, and highly recommend it - those questions you pose really get to the heart of what he is trying to explore. 'Christian Hipsters' represent merely one group that is trying to live in the tension of being people of authentic faith while also engaging (deeply) a rapidly evolving culture. Peace

      September 24, 2010 at 2:20 pm |
    • baptist_deacon

      For goodness sake, this blogger needs to grow up! Trying to be cool and hip is for teens. Stop sucking up to the world and un-believers. You will never be really accepted anyway as long as you are a believer. Start standing for God instead!

      September 24, 2010 at 2:50 pm |
    • dave

      i love it when people with no understanding of biology or chemistry make the claim that evolution explains the origin of life. do your homework. evolutionary biology has no explanation for how inorganic elements made the transition into living organisms, nor does it attempt to offer one. the difference in complexity between the chemical compounds that might have been formed in a young earth and even the most basic single-celled organisms is so incredibly vast that attributing such a conversion to random chance is utterly nonsensical...which is why people who know what they're talking about don't do it.

      apart from the origin of matter, it is the single greatest mystery in the scientific community, but atheists happily ignore this gaping hole in the logic if it means they can keep scoffing at creationists.

      September 24, 2010 at 6:17 pm |
    • Enemie

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y8fCuXL9ewE <- Check out this link its our response to the hipster artical that i thought was pretty neat. "Russ – EnemieRhymes

      September 25, 2010 at 2:25 am |
    • Joanna

      Yoohooo? Dave? Ever taken a basic biology course (not at Bob Jones University)? We all ready know how inorganic compounds became organic ones, and that process was recreated in a lab over 60 years ago.

      I have no idea if there is some sort of superior intelligence existing outside our physical plane but one thing is categorically, scientifically clear: that being has no relationship to any of the myths created on earth about god.

      September 25, 2010 at 7:55 am |
    • 10daystochange

      The point is, we all believe, and that's what really matters. Eighty-eight percent of the world's population believes in God. Life is good. http://www.eightyeightpercent.com

      September 26, 2010 at 2:32 pm |
    • Enemie

      Well another song I figured you guys would like =) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yJRbxknL9d8 [In response to this article]

      September 30, 2010 at 1:22 am |
    • Seda Sombra

      Saladin: Thanks for your thoughtful post. It means even more when I think of your namesake and his historical tolerance of other faiths. Warmest wishes and may the Divine continue to smile on you and yours.

      October 6, 2010 at 4:00 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.