What is a hipster, really? The Google definition is “a person who follows the latest trends and fashions, especially those regarded as being outside the cultural mainstream,” but if hipster culture could be easily represented by a dictionary definition it wouldn’t be very hipster. People have lots of different ideas about what being hipster means, and lots of different ideas about whether the hipster phenomenon is good, neutral, or really awful. The whole culture is rather slippery and hard to grasp, though popularly noted and allowed a comfortable niche in modern society.
Whatever hipsters are, they are frequently associated with the idea of liking something popular “before it was cool.” What struck me the other day was how God does something of the same: He liked us before we were cool. More specifically, He “demonstrates his own love for us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). Before we even existed, God knew who we were and chose to give Himself for us.
Now, on one hand this is kind of a superficial analogy. Being on the early wave of quirky trends isn’t quite the same thing as what is essentially the doctrine of election. This rather insignificant parallel, though, led my mind further to something else. Whose idea were hipsters? Who designed the grand variety of personalities in this world, including those which lend themselves to participation in hipster culture? Who first imagined lumberjack facial hair with bow ties? Is it anyone other than the one God, our Triune Lord from whose love issued all creation?
I’ve simply been reminded that all of our many senses of style, books, music, and other things are ultimately no more or less than humans reflections of the manifold creativities of God. This isn’t to say that some things aren’t truly and rightly more in line with the beautiful and the good than others, that all cultural expressions are equal, or that no art, fashion, or music is objectively bad. It is, however, to say that all peoples and all cultures, even the most odd subcultures, belong to God, came to be only by His creative and artistic will, and serve a purpose for which He has prepared them. If God didn’t want there to be hipsters, He had many opportunities to stop them.
One day hipster culture will die, as all subcultures do. On that day shall be rejoicing, and if God looks kindly upon us something more meaningful will take its place. Nonetheless, I imagine the world will suffer a twinge of sadness, for yet another unique expression of human existence will have passed away into the void of history, taking whatever (probably small) lessons and benefits God gave us through hipsters with it.