Monday, October 15, 2007
Emergent: Hipper-than-Thou?
Makeesha has another great post reflecting on the Glorieta Gathering and some of the accurate and inaccurate stereotypes critics have of the emerging church. One of the fairly accurate stereotypes she observed is that the emerging church contains a lot of "hip" and artistic types of people. She writes:

...the first thing I noticed was that 80 percent of the room was populated with young, "hip", "funky", well dressed, tattooed, pierced (I have never seen so many women with nose piercings in one room in my life, usually I'm the edgy one, here I felt normal hehe), knit cap topped poster children for post modernity.

photo by Daley Hake

That was one of the first things my totally un-hip, un-artistic Midwestern self noticed too. I don't think I'd ever seen so many creative people together in one place, and I confess I felt a little out of place at first without any tatoos, piercings, knit caps, or poetry to share. (However, I soon realized that despite how people looked there were no expectations of conformity.)

Others outside of the emerging church conversation have noticed this as well, some leveling it as a kind of critique, as if we're merely a "hipper-than-thou" version of the church. What I think is that critics who accuse emergents of being too "hip" maybe assume that we are doing it inauthentically, as if we think you have to be "hip" to be postmodern or emerging and we're therefore all just posing, acting this way to fit in as good postmodern Christians.

But from my experience this is not at all the case. Everyone I met were just being themselves. They just were artistic and "hip". There was no posing, and no "hipper-than-thou" attitude. People were just being authentic to who they were. And frankly, it'd be condescending of me to expect them to change just to make un-hip people like myself feel more comfortable.

I liken it to the hard time some people here in the suburbs give Julie and I for being too intellectual. And yet this is just who we are. We like to read intellectual books, occasionally use big words, and have deep conversations. It would be inauthentic and false for us to try to do otherwise. We're not putting on an act or trying to be "smarter-than-thou", this is just our personalities. Of course we don't want to make non-intellectuals feel uncomfortable or out-of-place, but we also recognize that there needs to be room for intellectual people like us in the church too.

I think it's the same with creative types. There needs to be place for them in the church too (a place which has been non-existent for far too long), and if they naturally gravitate towards an expression of the church like the emerging conversation that makes room for them, we shouldn't then make them feel guilty for simply being who they are. There's a difference between being a safe place for artists (or intellectuals) and being a place that is exclusively for artists (or intellectuals). My experience at Glorieta was that of the former, not the latter. And that's a good thing IMHO.

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posted by Mike Clawson at 12:35 PM | Permalink |


At 10/15/2007 03:57:00 PM, Blogger Makeesha

absolutely agreed :)


At 10/16/2007 06:27:00 AM, Blogger dan h.

"Am I a hipster-dufus, Jerry?" (Sorry - couldn't resist the Seinfeld reference).

Or, go to the hipster handbook for more info. :)



At 10/16/2007 10:26:00 AM, Blogger Nicholas Price

Hey Mike,
I just wanted to say that your thoughtful posts on your blog have inspired me to create one of my own:

So keep going with your intellectual musings:) They are an inspiration and a joy to read.


Nick Price


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