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Five hipster teachings for a fresh Lenten practice

By Pieta Woolley

Following in the footsteps of their hippie and yuppie ancestors, hipsters are just hated by their contemporaries. They’re easy targets because their clothes, music and ideas are so distinct — just like hippies and yuppies before them. And, insultingly to the rest of us, they’re flat-out contemptuous of the mainstream. 

But hipsters may be on to something. Highly educated and generally broke, they can see the future with blinding ease. In a post-jobs, environmentally collapsing century, they’re grasping on to kindness, simplicity, meaning and gentleness in part because the middle class shut its doors long before they arrived on the scene. So what’s left after wealth? That’s the question that these mostly millennials are answering — with their vinyl record swaps and food trucks, not to mention to their higher debt loads and delayed childbearing.

And coincidentally, deeply acknowledging the seriousness of chronic poverty and climate change is, like, seriously Lenten. Wander in the desert. Repent. Prepare the way.  

Here are five secular hipster teachings for a fresh Lenten practice.

1. Turn up some new tunes

Traditional practice: Prayer 

Alternative, indie music — far away from mainstream pop — is where we’re heading. Okay, I know, I know. Modern music can be difficult to decipher. And where to begin? I suggest downloading the Genius app, which annotates song lyrics as you’re listening to them on your device. Just let new music lead you into others’ stories and new ideas while helping your too-rational brain get supple again.  

2. Shop with your heart and your brain

Traditional practice: Repent

Looking for a hipster? Head to a farmers’ market, craft fair, food co-op, clothing swap or used book store. Consumer culture deserves this gritty rejection. After all, mass food waste, cruelty to animals, pollution through container shipping, pesticides and slave-like factory labour are the hidden costs behind much of what we buy. Alternatively, you can open your wallet this Lent and spend more on better.   

3. Evaluate your job

Traditional practice: almsgiving

Cash is so 20th century. Hipster currency is meaning. Is the work you do — paid or unpaid (think caregiving, internships and writing unsold screenplays) — feeding your soul? Is it healing the world? Use Lent to make sure that you’re fulfilling your sacred duties during your waking hours. 

4. Dress without impressing

Traditional practice: Self-denial

Buddy Holly glasses, skinny jeans and ear buds. It’s not like hipsters don’t have a cultural dress code. They do. But it articulates accessibility and connection, rather than financial or sexual dominance. A skin-tight Pink Floyd t-shirt is, after all, a conversation piece above all. Ditch your power costume this Lent, and let your light shine instead. 

5. Forgive your terrible family

Traditional practice: Atonement

Currently in their teens, 20s and 30s, today’s hipsters are likely to have divorced parents and grandparents, step-siblings, half-siblings and a whole lotta family bitterness zinging around them in every direction. Many have become experts at maintaining relationships with people that they love — those who literally hate each other. So take inspiration from these neutral peacemakers and settle those family feuds.    

Author's photo
Pieta Woolley is a writer in Powell River, B.C.
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