Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cross-Cringe
























Nine years ago, at the tail end of my teens, I converted to Unitarianism. I believed UUism was something I had been searching for my whole life and had stumbled across through blessed luck. I made some concessions along the way. I had once believed in The Trinity and found it not hard at all to shed belief in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. I made other concessions, mostly towards passionate environmentalism and activism--concepts that had not been heavily emphasized in my Christian past.

Now that I seem to have reversed myself 180 degrees, or nearly so, I have a few observations to make.

  • I've had some really ambivalent feelings now that I've converted to Christianity. When I hear someone proclaim to be a Christian or to mention Christianity at all I wince involuntarily. On the other hand, I feel a new sense of community. I say to myself that's me they're talking about now. Now I belong to that which I once mocked.I've felt a bit like Paul of Tarsus after his conversion on the road to Damascus. Formerly the persecutor of Christians, he now ranked among them.

  • What kept me so upset before was that I always saw Christians as "the other". I made no mention of the pure, honest, genuine Christians out there and instead focused on the Pharisees and hypocrites of the faith. I took a sense of Puritanical pride when so-called Christians revealed themselves to be grand deceivers and pretenders. Nevermind that you'll always find examples of human failures if that's all you choose to look at. The world can be a horrible place with innumerable examples to prove it, or it can be a good place with equally innumerable examples to prove it.

  • There's a certain unity in shaking one's fist at the world and railing against wrongs, but it's such a negative means of giving people the same purpose. It perpetuates an outsider mentality and I wish not to be an outsider anymore. I felt like one for years and when I found a motley band of others with the same fears and neuroses I thought I had arrived. But these days, it doesn't really matter anymore. I'm pushing thirty. My hair is beginning to thin at the top and gray at the temples. Proclaiming myself as the anti-status quo just doesn't have the same pull as it once did.

  • A friend of mine sent me this article. She is an ex-Mormon and I am now an ex-Unitarian, so we seem to have much in common.

    Hipsters must die!


  • In a half tongue-in-cheek way, half-deadly serious fashion, the author of this article talks about how unintentionally trendy it has become to become deeply exasperated at hipsters--so much so that to be an anti-hipster has become a generational trademark.

  • I admit I had hipster tendencies when I was in my late teens and early twenties, but I always had enough of a sense of irony to keep myself grounded. Yet, I certainly enjoyed the fine art of snarky criticism towards those people who take themselves a little too seriously. Unitarians have based a whole faith around righteous indignation and the irony is that many UUs exhibit religious hipster qualities despite their protests to the contrary.

  • All criticism really accomplishes is that it pointing out that we human beings are insecure and like to make ourselves feel better by having someone to scorn. We love scapegoats and whipping boys. Such is the Activists' Creed but Chronic Activism Syndrome can shorten anyone's life span. It certain has shortened mine. Life is too short than to be chronically pissed off. Why not stop to observe the good things it has to offer, instead?

    I end with the final paragraph of the article:

  • Here’s a modest proposal—how about we give the whole hating hipsters thing a rest? If somebody talks about a band or movie you have never heard of, maybe they aren’t trying to lord it over you, they just want to spread the word. Don’t be threatened by it. Likewise, if a person doesn’t like something you like, it might not be because that something is more popular than it used to be, that person just might not like it. And that’s OK, too. Can’t we all just get along, my hipster brothers and sisters?
  • 4 comments:

    Philocrites said...

    What an interesting idea! Can you say more about how you experienced UUs as a bunch of hipsters?

    it may be because I stumbled onto Unitarianism in Utah; that I got over any temptation towards the activist life when I was 21, just before stumbling into a Unitarian church; and that I'm way too square to ever be a hipster, but this struck me as a very interesting observation.

    Comrade Kevin said...

    I think many UUs who live in Red States and particularly in the Bible Belt think in terms of us versus the rest of the world.

    UUs and Hipsters both feel themselves to be a persecuted minority and this insecurity causes them to think of themselves as better than other people.

    Anonymous said...

    The anti-hipster hipsters make my head hurt, even though I think I might be one of them. Did you read the actual article the guy in the Onion linked to? It's absolutely ridiculous. A whole section on hipsters who had to play it straight for a week. Poor babies. I think I'll move to the country and wait tables in a small cafe somewhere, far away from all the hipsters. Or would that be the anti-hip hip thing to do? It's probably involving ourselves in the debate at all that makes us hipster on some level. The only people not touched by the article are people who have never heard the word. Focusing on who we are as individuals is all I'm concerned about now; maybe I'm Christian, maybe I'm not, but it's not for me to scorn those who are. Or aren't. I think I have a fever. I'm going to quit writing this ridiculously long comment now.

    -an ex-Mormon

    Mama G said...

    Life is too short than to be chronically pissed off. Why not stop to observe the good things it has to offer, instead?

    Wow. You verbalized some of the things I've been feeling lately. I've been frustrated with the reluctance in my congregation to have expressions of praise and celebration but instead focusing on the problems we have to change. Sigh. Both are worthy, but I really think there needs to be more balance.