"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

Christian Hipsters Say Capitalism Is So Over

Obama beat Romney with an obvious demographic edge, but there is one minority group backing Obama the media isn’t mentioning: hipsters. Hipsters for Obama Via Buzzfeed There are all sorts of hipsters: anarchist hipsters, libertarian hipsters, apolitical hipsters and maybe even just a few conservative hipsters. But overall, hipsters lean left. Even Christian hipsters. The hallmark for all hipsters might be summed up with the phrase “that is so over.” Allow this “Portlandia” clip to explain: Today, Christian hipsterdom shouts “Capitalism is so over!” What are Christian hipsters? Author of “Hipster Christianity: When Church and Cool Collide,” Brett McCracken says Christian hipsters are rebelling against the over-spiritualized Christian culture they were raised in, described as:
…the stereotypical evangelical church of the 80s – 90s: The Republican, middle class, abortion-clinic-picketing, anti-gay, anti-welfare, legalistic, not-so-interested-in-art-or-books WASP evangelical.
Most want nothing to do with contemporary Christian music, door-to-door evangelism and the non-denominational megachurches of their childhood. They are drawn to a more intellectual and traditional Christianity. Chances are they read books by C.S. Lewis and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, prefer Sufjan Stevens to Chris Tomlin, drink scotch and smoke cigars at Bible studies, and voted for Barack Obama. Christian Hipster Economics Author and social activist Shane Claiborne is the Christian hipster prototype. He is passionate about living an unorthodox lifestyle for Christ by serving the poor, fighting capitalism, being green and opposing the Iraq war. Claiborne’s anti-capitalist convictions are representative of most Christian hipsters. McCracken says:
…they hate the societal systems that require working to gain wealth. Particularly in America, where from day one the highest cultural value was a hard, up-from-your-bootstraps work ethic, hipsters have defined themselves in opposition to the industrious ethics of sweat-and-labor capitalism.
Young Protestants today seem to be rebelling against the traditional Protestant work ethic because they associate it with a greedy, selfish, superficial version of the American Dream. Evangelical hipster culture implies that Christians should oppose capitalism and adopt pro-regulation, pro-environmentalism, pro-universal health care political positions to truly live a Christ-like life. But in true, ironic hipster fashion, they are simultaneously biting the hand that feeds them. Isn’t it Ironic Here are a few internal inconsistencies at play:
1. They love freedom. Though Christian hipster voting patterns seem to reject the freedom of the market under capitalism, “hip” things can only survive in a free society. McCracken says:

To bestow the individual with the powers of autonomy and self-sovereignty invites self-styled rebellion, subversion, and countercultural behavior.

2. They are proud innovators. Beyond trendsetting in fashion and music, hipsters participate in capitalistic entrepreneurship. Vintage boutiques, microbreweries and community farms are popular hipster ventures made possible by the free market. 3. They promote capitalism. The enemy of Christian hipsterdom isn’t capitalism, but an economic system of overreaching regulation that would smother the freedom and innovation of hipster expression. The free market has sustained what culture defines as “cool” for over two hundred years in America. McCracken says:

The marketplace has embraced cool as the primary symbol of consumerism and material desire, and the result is that true and mass-marketed hip are increasingly hard to distinguish from one another.

Even if Christian hipsters reject the “cool” label, their anti-capitalist convictions have nonetheless become very trendy these days. Supporting leftist economic policies isn’t original anymore. And after four years of Obama’s economic policies and another four on the horizon, we should ready ourselves to hear a new catch-phrase from these Christian hipsters: “Obamanomics is so over.”