Be Cool

Apparently there’s been a bit of chatter on the interwebs (see Al, and Mikey) about how appropriate it is for Christians to be “cool”… I’m breaking a cardinal rule of cool here by talking about what cool is, and isn’t. But this sort of quote is just a little bit stupid.

“Likely, right now someone in your church is reading Blue Like Jazz or some similar book. It will resonate with them in style and content—it is cool and Christian. And it is extremely unhelpful. The only antidote seems to be twofold. The first is to reintroduce young Christians to the biblical Jesus: the person who died an agonizing death for their sins, who will tread the winepress of the wrath of God, and who listens to their prayers. The second is to begin the battle against the cool. The godly must begin to prove in the pulpit, in writing, and in their lives that Christianity is the deadly enemy of the cool.”

Now, I don’t know what planet this guy is from. I could understand if he was directing these remarks at the kind of people who think it necessary to install dirt bike jumps in church auditoriums to weakly make a point in a sermon. But that isn’t the definition of “cool” he went with.

” And the cool is the Western postmodern entertainment driven culture that has tutored our children and ourselves for the last fifty years.”

He must be really old and lame. But that’s not what “cool” is. That’s an old man’s definition of cool. That’s the definition someone comes up with looking into an idea or concept that they are not part of. Nothing says uncool like trying to define cool. Unless you want to compare it to being forty+ and having a Twilight tattoo.

Maybe my reaction against this is because I have been brainwashed by my postmodern entertainment driven culture. Cultural texts like:

Cool is almost completely subjective. It moves and changes with whatever group of people you move and change with, including within Christian subculture. It’s an ambiguous word (check out how much trouble the dictionary has defining it), and I think it could readily be applied to the life and ministry of Jesus. Even King Missile thought he was way cool… Here are some of the lyrics from a song called Jesus Was Way Cool:

“He would tell these stories and people would listen.
He was really cool.
If you were blind or lame,
You just went up to Jesus
And he would put his hands on you and you would be healed.
That’s so cool.

He could have played guitar better than Hendrix.
He could have told the future.
He could have baked the most delicious cake in the world.
He could have scored more goals than Wayne Gretsky.
He could have danced better than Barishnikof.
Jesus could have been funnier than any comedian you can think of.

Jesus told people to eat his body and drink his blood.
That’s so cool.
Jesus was so cool.
But then some people got jealous of how cool he was,
So they killed him.
But then he rose from the dead!
He rose from the dead,
Danced around and went up to heaven.
I mean, that’s so cool.
Jesus was so cool.
No wonder there are so many Christians.”

But lets face it – definitions of cool are pretty arbitrary unless they come from The Rock.

Jesus was pretty good at that. Our job as Christians though is to be like him (which hopefully becomes more and more a case of “being ourselves”). I just don’t see how “cool” and “Christian” don’t mesh up – unless you understand “cool” as “conforms to social norms” rather than as “refuses to be influenced by social norms” (which I guess applies to those people who think Justin Bieber or any character from Twilight defines “cool”). The only thing this post proves is that trying to define cool in order to criticise it is just not cool.


The guy’s thinking seems pretty messed up. -1 for clarity.

However I suspect that some of the things that he’s railing against I would also rail against.

Just read Mikey’s post. Perfect. Exactly what I wanted to say but could not.