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Interesting feature from The New York Times Magazine:

For the 10th consecutive December, the magazine has chosen to look back on the past year through a distinctive prism: ideas.  Our digest of short entries refracts the light beam of human inspiration, breaking it up into its constituent colors — innovations and insights from a spectrum of fields, including economics, biology, engineering, medicine, literature, sports, music and, of course, raw-meat clothing. Happy thinking!

R. Card Hyatt

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This will be rather less huffy than the post with which I hoped to get away.

Brett McCracken’s book on Hipster Christianity has been talked about, and will no doubt read be read, quite a bit.  I haven’t been able too, so I’ll try and be quite clear on what I am responding too, without jumping to conclusions about the whole work.

A friend sent me the link for McCracken’s Christianity Today article, which is why this is getting written in the first place.  In the article, as well as the Wall Street Journal article and the first chapter of his book (available on the book’s website) detail a few key features of the Christian Hipster: The second, perhaps grass roots, wave of the emergent church movement, defined broadly as those who seek to be contrary to the mainstream and self-consciously oriented by whatever is “cool.”  In my own terms: the current version of the cultural tribe that gains its authenticity by separating from the bourgeois.

Gaining authenticity is the operative element.  If authenticity is the foundational ethic of our age (I won’t make that argument here, the major works of Charles Taylor would do a better job anyhow.), than it is helpful to see what McCracken is talking about as simply the current Christian version of a phenomenon in western culture present since the bohemians of the nineteenth century. The authenticity ethic runs something like this: the goal of my actions is to be true to my most authentic self. So, I construct my lifestyle to around whatever I believe will achieve this authenticity, which means being true to a certain history and group as much as it means being true to self. I go about this not just by making certain moral decisions, but consumer and political decisions as well. With this in mind, McCracken’s questions take a different cast.

McCracken’s primary question is about the compatibility of Christianity and cool, and secondarily, the how the present version of cool Christians are impacting the church. For the first, perhaps we can ask, is it appropriate for a portion of Christianity to gain authenticity by being apart from the mainstream? Looked at in this way, it seems such a simple answer of no that it is not worth a great deal of time, any more than asking whether locating authenticity in being part of the safe, washed and conservative suburbanites is appropriate for Christians. Now, I think that McCracken is in total agreement with me here, which is one of the reasons why this is less huffy than previously planned.

Introducing authenticity to the second question provides less clarity, and this is where I have most of my trouble.  Competing versions of authenticity are naturally opposed (even those that find authenticity in granting all versions of authenticity equal merit) and tend define themselves by negative opposition.  Hippies aren’t squares or straights, jocks aren’t drama wimps, etc.  The relationship is inversely proportional, always.  As a secular ethic, authenticity is a zero sum game.  But for the church, what are its rules for authenticity competition? Are they different?

McCracken wrote an essay for RELEVANT magazine called the “Gospel According to Hipsters.” Even a quick gloss will reveal that he focuses on what I can only call sin problems: hipsterism encourages pride and vanity, it encourages rebellion and self-centeredness, and so on.  This is firmly the province of Church dialog, as it always has been.

Where it no longer seems like appropriate Church dialog is when the typologies come out. The book’s website features Anatomy of A Christian Hipster and an Are You A Christian Hipster? quiz (there, I’ve buried the lede).  Here we get Christian Hipster types that are spotable in the culture at large, your friends, yourself.  The thinking must run that some of the Church will have no notion of who are what these people are and so it is informational.  But there are many who fit to a type, and so find themselves and their pretensions skewered.  So the uninitiated are enlightened and the With It are perhaps deflated.  Yet, here the dialog is the language of competing sources of authenticity.  Those who fit one of the types are on the defensive, those who don’t (and self- deception will no doubt ensure that most are not) can be satisfied that whatever constitutes their authenticity has not been shown up as so much vanity.  It seems to me that the Church should never engage in this sort of criminology of pretension, because its very mode is that of the clique.

(more…)

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The fabric district, found roughly along 9th street between San Julian and Santee Streets in Los Angeles (exit the 10 at San Pedro), easily makes my top ten places to be in LA. Rebecca H. first introduced me to its bolts upon bolts of fabric at wholesale prices I’d only dreamed of. It was the college-play costumer’s dream. I have since dragged many friends with me to shop for silks, cheap cottons, suitings, and various wedding related endeavors. Or just to run our hands along the textures of beautiful textiles.

Once Peter G., Danielle C., Timothy and I went simply to take pictures.

[photos taken by Timothy C.]

I made a trip this week to purchase materials for a couple Christmas presents, silk ties for the groomsmen and groom in our wedding, a vests for groomsmen and ushers. I found all the fabrics I needed for under $40 (a total of over 20 yards). Several successful bargainings were had (yes, this is still new to me, an Orange County native, but I am working on expanding my concept of shopping).

Also, hot dogs as you’ve never experienced them … wrapped in bacon, piled with tomatoes and guacamole … and cooked on the side of the road.

R

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Summer-Do

hair 2

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Some mornings, when I am busy answering questions and listening to stories in the classroom, I wonder why anyone in the entire world would choose a different career.  Some evenings, when I get home, after six to seven hours of teaching, an hour of planning meetings, a meeting with unhappy parents … and I still have grading to complete and lessons to finish prepping for tomorrow, I wonder why anyone in their right mind chooses this job.

It’s not easy.  But, I suspect that nothing you care about is.

These are the posts I would write if I had no grading this evening and weren’t so exhausted from teaching, class-going, and my new running schedule …

Dressing like Grown-ups: What does it mean when you’re always more dressed up than your professors?

Church History 101 (junior-high version): Causes of the Reformation

A Basic Primer of Catholic vs. Protestant Doctrine of Salvation for 7-8th graders

5 reasons to read Dillard’s For the Time Being this weekend

The Myth of “Preparation”: The unhelpful legacy of temporality in collegiate life

Maybe tomorrow?

R


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It all started when I left my pants at home.

Every morning I work out; often at my gym at work. Arrive at 7:00, workout till 8, shower and sit down at my desk by 8:30. Like clockwork. The problem with clockwork is nothing can go wrong. I can’t set my alarm for PM instead of AM. I can’t shave my legs if I started showering at 8:09. But most of all, I cannot forget my change of clothes.

My third day of work I forgot my suit, which I’d hung up and set down on the couch. Fortunately, Becky hadn’t started school and drove it out to me. Once I forgot my underwear and so wore wet panties under a skirt. Once I forgot my bra and had to wear my sportsbra under my blouse.

But I’ve never forgotten my pants.

The problem was that today is Friday. Fridays are casual days. In this lies both my damnation and salvation.

I pulled my blue jeans out of the laundry to pack into my gym bag last night. If I’m not mistaken, they’re still lying placidly on Becky’s bed. Never made it anywhere near the bag.

Blessedly, when I was putting on my gym clothes this morning, I couldn’t find my yoga pants and was forced to wear shorts. After my workout, as I was peeling off layers of sweaty fabric, I realized there were no blue jeans in my bag. I looked again. Still no blue jeans, but in a wad at the bottom of my bag, I found my yoga pants.

 I called our Ops Manager, and asked, “Should I drive home or wear my yoga pants?” He said, “I don’t care. If someone from HR asks, tell ’em you thought you had a project on the roof today.” I thought this would work out fine, because I didn’t have any meetings, and even if I did, they wouldn’t require me to go by HR.

I put on my yoga pants and the pumpkin, cowl-necked sweater I’d brought. Because I hadn’t planned on my ankles being seen, I hadn’t brought a different set of shoes. I was also out of a clean pair of socks. So I walked into my Department with a business casual top, modest gym bottoms, and running shoes with tall, thick, used atheletic socks.

I was a sight that made eyes sore.
My friend told me the sweater was a bit much. “It goes better with denim,” I replied.
We found a lady’s t-shirt (white) in the sample clothing I’d collected for our Logo Apparel Program and I hid in a cubicle to change (I couldn’t face going past the time clock to the bathroom).

Right as I was sitting down to my reclusive day in my cubicle, someone called for me to “Come on!” and I discovered that I only had one appointment today and that appointment was a dress rehearsal for next week’s skit.

So there I was, in my gym clothes, on stage with the EVP of Human Resources, the EVP of Sales Operations, and a dozen other employees, bathed in bright lights.

Which accented the black bra I’d chosen to wear this morning.

True story.

I am now at the end of my day, and after several comments about the tag sticking out of my shirt and the soy sauce I spilled down the front over lunch, I’m ready to go home. Where I will put on my pants and be happy.

               cSc

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So, for our Santa Maria BBQ at work, I dressed up.

This is me and my miniature Jersey bull, Carney Beauvine — the star of my short film promotional campaign.

And this is me as my other persona:  (See R’s previous post)

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