“From an outside perspective, the Catholic faith often gets complaints about all the ‘stuff’ our faith contains. From holy water, to liturgical dress, to rosaries, to scapulars, we have to admit that there’s definitely apparent evidence to back up this complaint….God set up the world in a way that allows the things of this world to draw our attention to something bigger: holy water to remind us that Jesus offers us cleansing from our sins, liturgical dress to connect us to the fact that we are a part of something bigger than our local parishes, scapulars to help us feel a reminder of our calling to holiness as we go about our regular day. It’s all about drawing our attention to God and his plan for us as we continue to make our way through this busy and messy life.”
Living in the Pacific Northwest, I can honestly say that hipsters are about as abundant as rain. Flannel, scarves, thick glasses, and beanies are par for the course, so it is no surprise that a book like The Catholic Hipster Handbook by Tommy Tighe would surface. This book is hard to review because it is amazing in so many ways, but also comes across as trying too hard.
So, let’s start with the good. There is a lighthearted section on the history of craft brewing and its roots in Catholic history. There is an awesome chapter on Catholic bands that are a bit more indie than the music you would ordinarily hear at mass. For example, artists like Josh Garells, Run River North, The Oh Hellos, Luke Spehar, Needtobreathe, Future of Forestry, Rivers and Robots, Jenny and Tyler, and The Crossword Pursuit are all highlighted (although the author of this chapter, Melissa Keating, admits that some of them are more successful than others which are truly hipster because of their obscurity). I also genuinely appreciated the prayers at the end of each chapter – prayers which come from favorite saints – and the voice of many of these authors. I felt like I was having conversations with a very cool, but theologically versed priest.
Now, let’s look at the parts that bugged me a bit. The book felt like it was trying too hard. Do we really need a whole chapter trying to convince us that having a beard is a real tool for evangelism? The sheer number of times the word hipster was used became a bit overwhelming – it seemed redundant only a few chapters in and lost its effectiveness. Finally, there are somethings about the Catholic church that are just downright amazing – do we really need to classify them as hipster or trendy in order to make them appealing?
Overall, I appreciated this book, but didn’t love it. It was a quick read and I was able to skip around as I desired. There are definitely parts that I will return to, but there are other parts that I could do without. In general, The Catholic Hipster Handbook is a fun book if you are looking for a lighthearted and inspiring book, but be warned – you may find the overwhelming focus on being trendy and hip a bit too much.