Friday, 18 October 2013

''''''Cool''''' Christians'

At school, I prided myself on fiercely resisting - so I thought - the sheeplike rise and fall of social cliques (neither a 'trendy' nor a 'goth' or 'geeky kid' be...). But now, I fear I find myself riding a wave of a sort of faithy hipsterism. I think I might be part of a tribe I'm going to sardonically label ''''''cool'''''' Christian'. (There aren't enough scare quotes in the world for that phrase).

Here's how it seems to work. Us '''''cool'''' Christians' are followers of Jesus who find ourselves living in a post-religious context. The people around us – you, probably – are lovely, good, smart people. That aside, you're pretty similar to us in most ways we can observe, but are somewhere on a spectrum between 'meh', 'if it works for you' and 'convictedly anti-' when it comes to anything faintly Christian or churchy.

We desperately want you to like us - or, in fact, not us but JesUS (yeaaaahhhh! See? We're not above a pun or a meme, we're so with it).

We like what you like: we'll get nostalgic about the same cartoons, share the same right-on outrage about whatever is today's political scandal, enjoy the same alcoholic beverages at the same pubs.

We go clubbing and to the theatre and on holiday with you – crazily, just because we think it's fun. We'd never be crassly driven by some insidious proselytising agenda.

When it comes to the God stuff, we can roll with your punches. Yeah, you're right, various bits of the church have had some shockers. Your critique of hellfire street preachers is, like, totes legit. Young Earth Creation? Ha! We're with you, that is rubbish science...

We welcome your critical thinking and your hard questions. Bring on the Dawkins and the Hitchens and the /r/atheism. We don't believe in the god that they're so cross about, anyway.

We even dance in fusty, formal-looking church wedding services, would you believe?! OMG, so ZANY! (The G is for goodness – we're still a bit tentative about casually taking the Lord's name in abbreviated vain.)

And, perhaps above all, we write blog after blog, tweet upon tweet – heck we'll even get on Snapchat or Vine to show how down with digital media we are – busting myths like there's no tomorrow. (Though, ho ho, let's be clear: there IS a tomorrow. None of us are worried about anything so silly as that Harold Camping imminent flying-Christian rapture stuff).

We churn out piles of words, so very earnestly longing to be shared, to be 'talkable' and 'relevant' and 'connect to where you're at'. Sometimes showing but more often telling you how God/church/the Bible/Christianity doesn't look like you think it does, how your preconceptions are way off-beam, how we blow your stereotypes to smithereens:
  • '50 Shades of Song of Songs: why kinky sex is super-Christian' 
  • '10 ways church should be more like TED' 
  • 'On monarchists, republicans and the REAL Royal Baby' (yep, it's Jesus) 
  • 'What Murray Mania can teach us about worship'

Because if we could just get a foot in the door of your attention, if we could just redeem some of that entertainment time for a higher purpose, if we could just MAKE YOU SEE...that God is love, that faith is reasonable, that church is good, that the Bible is relevant, that we love you, then maybe it would all be OK.

(And, for what it's worth, this desire is totally heartfelt and, I think, totally valid.)

But do you know what? Mostly, as far as I can tell, you don't care. In fact, scratch that - THEY don't care. Because, let's be honest, this post won't be any different either. It might, if I'm lucky (oop, controversial, a Christian using the word 'lucky'), do the rounds of you, my fellow '''''cool'''' Christians' (hello! [wave]).

But, really, is it ever going to even be a drop in the same ocean as the huge tide of BBC News or Buzzfeed or TalkSport or funny pics on Facebook or celeb chat on Twitter or whatever else? Let's be honest, on these audiences' terms, Christians trying to be more interesting than the alternatives is surely pretty Cnut-ish behaviour.

That's not to say I have a solution right now. Maybe there isn't one; maybe it has to be about drip-drip-dripping away, starting in my little corner and hoping something will eventually overflow into someone else's peripheral vision. But I really, really don't want to be a '''''cool'''' Christian' in a closed loop, talking to myself. I want to be available to the world out there. World, if you're out there, just tell me how...