Smash Your Own Idols


Stop me if you’ve heard this before: an evangelical writer with Reformed leanings heaps together a whole bunch of things about younger people that he finds distasteful and encourages that Christians scorn them. Sounds like something that Carl Trueman could have written when in one of his grumpy old man-moods, or this Charles Bronson parody:

These sorts of posts tend to bother me for their consistent confluence of two things that need not be tied together. On the one hand there is a derision of people who wearing clothes that might be described as “hipster” and bundled in with this there is a derision of anything that might be considered, for lack of a better descriptor, some kind of social cause. The villain in this post dresses in skinny jeans and thick-rimmed glasses and rides a fixed-gear bike while drinking organic craft beer and denouncing child labour. This is of course the conservative evangelical’s version of the “Commie-Nazis.” This is what I find so noxious about this characterization, there are plenty of people who care about this or that social issue and who are terrible dressers who have no idea what is cool. (And this is from a thirty-something dad, so you know, if I think they can’t dress themselves…) The inverse is even worse, because even though I know a few people who might outwardly be identified as “hipsters” I don’t know anyone at all who would self-identify as such. In fact there is a joke that goes like this:

Q: How do you know if someone’s a hipster?

A: Ask them if they’re a hipster and if they reply “F*** no!” then you can be assured that they are.

So there’s the problem that this critique can be heard by almost everyone and be presumed to be about someone else, “those hipsters over there, yeah, they need to get things right!” So what we have is a sort of meaningless swipe at anyone who is perceived (by someone else again) to be a little to current in their dress and cuisine as well as someone who is clearly a political conservative taking a swipe at causes that he associates with those to the left of him, even if those who dress cool don’t really care about any of those causes. (I thought that caring wasn’t cool, so how the coolest people would also support the most worthy causes is beyond me, but I digress.) Now if the heart is, as Calvin said, an idol factory, I could take this sort of post a lot more seriously if the writer expressed concerned about his own idols. Your sweater-vests and Republican Party membership cards and assorted Reformed ephemera won’t save you, oh I’m sure they’re well-intentioned, but I’d take you more seriously if you junked all those things. See what I did there?