About the Author
Brett McCracken’s bio reads:
“Graduate of Wheaton College and UCLA. His day job is managing editor for Biola University’s ‘Biola Magazine…’ He comments on movies, media and popular culture issues at his blog, The Search [see my blog roll] “
His accomplishments are pretty impressive and he also frequently contributes to Relevant magazine; however, I think something to capture his writing style should be included in his bio statement. If I could, I would like to submit “literary surgeon” into the mix. What Brett does in his writing and especially in Hipster Christianity is masterfully precise.
The History of the Matter
One of the main reasons I appreciate what McCracken does with this work is the historical excursion, his tracking the history of the concept of hip and cool. Where does it come from? And why is being cool so pressing to modern humanity?
McCracken cites the sixteenth century “tumultuous rise of Italian city-states” as the first era in which the anti-establishment attitude was born “which eventually gave rise to the Renaissance.”
He then stops by 1946 when the actual word hip was coined by Nat King Cole. It gets much deeper, but the important thing to know is cool has a history and much of it appears in this book.
When Church and Cool Collide
I know from experience the title of the book, alone, warrants rejection from a lot of Christians, perhaps those of the fundamentalist camp–I use the term loosely–and rightfully so. What place does the word cool have in context with the gospel? Hipsters aren’t concerned with making disciples, so why bother? It may seem a vain pursuit on the surface, but I believe the topic is largely relevant to the advancing church: What happens when Church and cool collide? Because it happens, it’s happening.
In the book, McCracken explores the topic with both intellectual and spiritual savvy. He invites readers to explore issues of identity facing the church topics like, relevancy, “gospel marketing” and aks, for example, how technology is impacting Christianity.
Driven by Conviction
Though I appreciate the historical approach, the way McCracken makes plain some things embedded in the transient pursuit of cool–after defining it–are contradictory to the message of the gospel is most important in the book.
Citing individualism, alienation, competition, pride and vanity, a focus on the now, rebellion and a reduction of our identities to the visual, he articulates what’s wrong with cool.
These are just a few, quick thoughts on why I rate this book a must read.