When you meet someone new, what is the first thing you notice about them? Could it be distressingly greasy hair or a fake smile (with tan)? Could it be a limp handshake or an over-zealous grappling hug? Or could it even be the Levi’s jeans, leather shoes, and vintage t-shirt that replace your eyes with little courtrooms?
the condition of their heart strikes you suddenly and clearly.
The Moscow–Idaho–community is a gift which comes wrapped in wrinkled paper. It possesses, like all places, a unique set of better and worse qualities. This especially regards its populace.
Stepping out of my apartment is like entering a world populated exclusively by sideshow attractions at a Myers-Briggs carnaval des hommes.
At any given time, there will be exactly three men playing guitar, two ladies in ankle skirts–whose theatrics oblige an un-querying audience, and at least one man covered in garbage bags riding the public bus in circles. But you can imagine any sort of person you’d like. They live here.
Yet perhaps the most obvious people group are those amorphous and omnipresent hipsters.Their shoes are invariably authentic, their pants invariably cuffed, their shirts most certainly ironic and cigarettes always lit.
It’s not hard to find them; they roam in threes. But to understand them–and not to live or die–is the question.
It is easy, particularly, I believe, for reformed Christians to mock the nations. We are wont to hold society in contempt. We often push escape from or ridicule of sinful man and his evil ways. “Behold, their only thought is only evil continually,” says the high-waisted freshman. With little comments and grand assumptions, the world of culture and island of Christianity grow ever apart. A macho-Presbyterian seems sure that his ways–namely, Johnny Cash and white t-shirts–are supreme. So? Skip to the conclusion.
Make fun of the other guy. You’ll sound tougher.
But could it be possible that these derisable fellows are more than the sum total of their lifestyle? Could it be possible that beneath the clothes there is a man as needful of Christ’s redeeming salvation as ourselves?
Why are hipsters hipster? What makes them tick? I argue that there is much more to their philandering than knee-deep vying.
For better or worse, I have spent some decent time on Tumblr, fashion and music blogs, and in coffee or resale shops. Prime hipster locales, if I do say so. Prime location to observe the coming and goings of their trends, discussions, and desires.
All these subjects flaunt an affected veneer. And still beneath it is a truly human element; something which is seeking, a sensitive eye retracted in armor coating and high walls. A brief discourse on their exploits should help shed light on this idea.
Hipster photography is granulated, vague, arbitrary, meaningless. The more obscure you can make a situation the better. If it evokes wanderlust or romanticism, all the greater. In fact, most these photos are not entirely unlike the paintings of the Impressionists. Each moment has value, they say. But their Darwin-educated souls tell them they are products of chance. Each moment contains a spiritual element which is worthy to be observed for its own glory. But their Freudian textbook coolly tells them that this is a production of their failed psyche. Hence the paradox.
Hipster fashion is like digging through a bucket of clothes (pun intended) to find the most authentic, oldest reliquary of ages past. New Balance, Red Wing, and Pabst Blue Ribbon used to have working class associations. Tweed jackets, folk music, and leather shoes point back and say “that was better, let’s do it again.” Nearly all brands related to or adored by these iconoblasts were at one time their grandparents’ brands. So much for innovation.
But why put up with all this trying? Why put up with dejected, romance novels and hopelessly obscure art? Is there any point to it at all; why so much meaning for such fleeting fashions?
If life for the hipster is really all fashion, whence the passion?
If life for the hipster is really all authenticity, why the persona?
If life for them is really nothing more, then… why?
The only reason could be these possess a deeper value than can be blankly seen. It is even possible that this cult did not spring from nothingness but is derived from the yearnings of incomplete hearts in a society devoid of God and full of resenting Christians. I hope you will suspend laughter at such a ludicrous assumption.
Man without God distorts himself. Man without God is an ugly, pathetic mammal with dimly reflective skin and an appetite for destruction. But man without God is, more than that, tragic.
“It is not good that man should be alone,” God says of us. How much worse to be without Him than Eve? Our hearts apart from the One in whom they find completion can be nothing more than fleshly vacuums which take in filth and grime to coddle and call very good.
These layers of filth and grime take many forms. Sometimes the heart sucks up alcohol, or drugs and tries to patch its holes with these. Sometimes it will breathe in gang-life or homosexuality and use these to fill the void of their Father’s absence. Sometimes it takes something which we call vain to become their place of worship. Sometimes the heart lacks so drastically the love which only its Creator can provide that foolishness becomes truth, meaninglessness understanding, vanity becomes beauty, and love becomes jealousy.
The saddest part is that these hearts do not recognize their own lack. In their emptiness and depravity, they cannot.
And in go the trends.
What good, then, is it to deride or scorn them? Why mock the foolishness of men without minds or laugh in the faces of children without parents?
How much better to show them a solution. How much better to act like mature, Christian men whose masculinity is not shaken by certain colors and suspend our school-girl snickering? How much better to demonstrate our own love in that while they are still vain, we die to ourselves, suppress our judgment and offer hope and understanding which can only be found in Christ’s love?
Given our unmerited salvation, isn’t that the least we can do?