Tim Tebow Is a Hipster, and Other Things I Learned from Salon

That's a vest, right? That's totally hipsterish.

That’s a vest, right? That’s totally hipsterish.

Apparently Tim Tebow is a hipster.

I know, I was surprised at this too, but then I read this piece by Amanda Marcotte of  Salon.com on these 5 Christian “Hipsters” Trying to Make Fundamentalism Look Cool, by being young and hip and with it, despite their horribly conservative Christianity, and there he was, right smack dab in the center of it. I mean, if Salon.com says so, it’s probably worth considering. Again, it doesn’t initially make sense, but maybe they’re offering up a new definition of hipsterism?

In the past, when I’ve thought “hipster”, sites like VICE come to mind. For Christian hipsters, it was Relevant. To me, Tim Tebow wasn’t a hipster. Tim Tebow plays football. Tim Tebow has arms the size of Wyoming. Tim Tebow is the face earnest, conservative, and Christian Midwest who just happens to be young. There is nothing ironic, faintly urban, indie music-loving, foodie-ish, or Wes Anderson about him.

But, you know, looking at Marcotte’s list is making me reconsider things, because, in surveying it, the only person on that list who kind of made sense to me as a Christian hipster is Brett McCracken. I’ve sat in a hip, urbane coffee shop with him in the Orange Circle (a quaint little old-town section in Orange County) and talked about Whole Foods, craft beer, and cultural consumption, and then ironically laughed at the cliche we were embodying right there–even down to the self-aware irony about our self-aware irony. That’s kind of hipsterish, right?

But then, when you try to fit that into the same category as Tim Tebow, ‘Merican football hero…I dunno. So, maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time.

Then again, McCracken’s being on the list at all, makes me a bit suspicious.  I mean, one of the main points of his book on Hipster Christianity, is that Christians shouldn’t try to make Christianity cool by shaving off the edges, or believing the myth that if we just packaged it properly, everybody would jump on board. In that sense, it’s kind of odd for him to be the poster boy for missing the point that “conservative Christianity is the exact opposite of cool”, when that’s kind of what he’s known for.

Of course, the other odd bit of the article that gives me pause is Marcotte’s fixation on sex and politics as if it were the defining characteristic of conservative Christianity, and the litmus test of it’s truth and morality. I mean, I thought that Evangelicals were supposed to be the ones making views on sexuality the boundary-line of social acceptability? But, in reading it, the whole thing kind of amounted to: “This guy seems cool, or tries to seem cool, but don’t be fooled, he’s just as sex-negative and intolerant as the rest of his conservative counterparts.” Cut, paste, & change the name. Repeat four more times. 

Honestly, given the level of hostility in the article, I was looking for a more damning charge against these types than just being “sex-negative” and holding “anti-sex judgmental attitudes” (and, from what I gather, that simply means holding a fairly traditional sex ethic), but I could find neither hide nor hair of one. Still a bit puzzled over that. It’s like that was the only thing she cared about. But that can’t be right. Conservative Christians are the ones who are obsessed with and intolerant of other people’s sexual beliefs and behaviors, right?

It’s just odd to think that in a Salon.com article, there’s nothing to see here other than a confirmation of what we’ve known for a long time: people really don’t like what Christianity has to say about sex. I mean, this was true when Christianity first came on the scene in the Roman Empire and the pagan critics were lambasting it. It was true when C.S. Lewis wrote about the issue 60 years ago in Mere Christianity and the Freudians were still kicking about, talking about repression. And it’ll be true until Jesus comes back. That and the tired idea, refuted-by-history, time and again, that if Christians would just get with the times, shift up their sexual ethic, the kids would come back to church. It just seems so trite to keep writing about.

So, maybe now I’m wondering if Tebow’s really a hipster again.

Soli Deo Gloria

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