Was Jesus a hipster? and other important religious questions

I couldn't help but giggle when I saw Newsweek's latest Jesus cover. The story is actually a serious look at how Christianity is changing in America, but the cover reminded me of a game I play with my friends sometimes.

You see, there are a whole lot of hipsters crawling around NYC. In case you live in a suburban or rural area, let me elaborate. A hipster is, by definition, someone too cool for school who often adopts the latest trends before you or I even know about them, listens to bands no one has ever heard of, and loves dorky things in an ironic fashion. Because of their proclivity for shaggy haircuts, facial hair and vintage a clothing, a TON of hipster guys look like Jesus. No, I'm serious! If you don't believe me, please see exhibit A: The Newsweek cover! Hence my favorite game: Hipster or Jesus?

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Here's what MSN had to say about the whole Hipster Jesus controversy:

The thing is, the headline for the article is actually more interesting to me than the semblance between a Brooklyn resident and Jesus: "Forget the Church, Follow Jesus!" it reads. It's an intriguing thought for tons of people, like me, who may have been raised Catholic or Christian but have become disillusioned with many of the hypocrisies apparent in religious institutions.

Andrew Sullivan argues that we should all remove religion from "politics, priests and get-rich quick evangelicals" to get to the heart of what really matters: The teachings of Jesus Christ. It's and intriguing message that probably resonates for many of us who consider ourselves spiritual but not necessarily religious. Pointing to the rather shocking fact that "the fastest-growing segment of belief among the young is atheism," Sullivan argues that Christianity is in crisis and that there is a need to get back to the most fundamental of Jesus teachings. I can whole-heartedly relate to this point of view.

You see, I was raised a practicing Roman Catholic and I went through all of the rights of passage from Baptism all the way up to Confirmation. As I got older, I began to see how Jesus was used by so many to justify oppression and I just didn't get it because I knew deep down in my heart that if Jesus was here, right now, he's advocate for a society infinitely more tolerant of differences and mostly, for love.

As Thomas Jefferson--the main proponent of the separation of church and state and a devout Christian--said: "No man can conform his faith to the dictates of another. The life and essence of religion consists in the internal persuasion or belief of the mind."

In other words, we can't impose our beliefs on others, no matter how strongly we feel. It also means that no one else can dictate what is in your heart and soul, so that you can make your own decisions about faith, belief and religion. Sullivan argues that once Christianity gets back to those basic tenets, it may have a chance at capturing the imagination of young people again, and I have to say, I agree with him.

Were you raised religious? Does the hipster Jesus offend you?

Image via Newsweek