Jul 15, 2013

Dealing with Christ and Culture: Fundamentalist vs. Hipster

Negative examples of Fundamentalist stereotypes abound in Hollywood. From the portrayal of William Jennings Bryan in Inherit the Wind with Spencer Tracy to the rural preacher in the 1980’s movie Footloose or movies such as Saved by REM’s Michael Stipe or the documentary Jesus Camp. I’ve gotta throw in the fundamentalist parody church website Landover Baptist. And then there’s the jokes. Let’s start off with a classic:

Why don’t fundmentalists believe in pre-marital sex?
It could lead to dancing.
And then there’s the multiple choice jokes. For example:

How many Fundamentalists does it take to change a light bulb?
A) None, fundamentalists don’t believe in change.
B) None, they prefer to be in the dark.
C) None. Since light bulbs are not mentioned in the bible, they must be a tool of the Devil.

Interestingly enough, while I was looking for some good humor about fundamentalists, I came across an actual fundamentalist website lambasting Christian humor. It was on a site called the Blessed Quietness Journal whose motto is Searching for the Truth in the King James Bible; Finding it, and passing it on to you.” It was called JOKES AND HUMOR AT THE EXPENSE OF THE BIBLE AND THE GODHEAD By Pastor Steve. After ripping apart any Christian who dared to make a joke based on Christian things, the author actiually ended the article with a “joke” of his own:

Did you hear the one about the preacher who made jokes about the Bible and God's holiness?
He went to hell and burned forever. 

Which brings us to the last one: 

Why don’t Fundamentalists laugh at jokes?
Because they take everything literally

On the sort of opposite end of the spectrum, we have the trend of Hipster Christianity. For real, there’s a whole book about it. The Hipster Christian is often seen as an overreaction by kids growing up in the shelter of a Christian –often suburban- subculture and now that they are out of the house, they want to embrace what’s best of culture. Not to be outdone, there is a Twitter account called ChristianHipsterSays and in the interest of being fair, I pulled a few of the best quotes off it for your enjoyment:
“I’ll have to add you after Easter because I gave up Facebook for Lent”

“Yeah … I was in the room when that song happened”

“I just changed my major to humanities”

“Soooo many people are wearing Toms now”

“Who else is NOT watching the Super Bowl today”

“Psh – I am not a hipster”

“Is this communion bread gluten free?”
Both of these are oversimplifications based on stereotypes. Still, they highlight a truth, that Christians have often struggled with: how to relate to the larger culture. For example, the ex-hippie Jesus Movement of the 70’s or the Modernist vs. Fundamentalist controversies arising in the 1920’s or way back in 1st century Corinth, Greece. I’m not saying that’s all ... we also have questions about Christian liberty and freedom of conscience and other issues. 

But have the biggest issue of all is how we should live lives that give all glory to God no matter what we are doing. 

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