UC Observer logo
UCObserver on SoundCloud UCObserver on YouTube UCObserver on Facebook UCObserver on Twitter UCObserver's RSS Feeds
Courtesy of Pexels

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.
Readers’ advisory: The discussion below is moderated by The UC Observer and facilitated by Intense Debate (ID), an online commentary system. The Observer reserves the right to edit or reject any comment it deems to be inappropriate. Approved comments may be further edited for length, clarity and accuracy, and published in the print edition of the magazine. Please note: readers do not need to sign up with ID to post their comments on ucobserver.org. We require only your user name and e-mail address. Your comments will be posted from Monday to Friday between 9:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Join the discussion today!


The author is baptized at Central United in Calgary. (Photo courtesy of Al Coe)

Why I got baptized in a United Church at the age of 42

by Jacqueline Mercer-Livesey

"I told myself that I didn’t need to go to church to believe in God. I found peace and the Holy Spirit in the things that surrounded me. But still, there was a nagging sense of something missing."

Promotional Image


Editor/Publisher of The Observer, Jocelyn Bell.

Observations: The rewards of letting go

by Jocelyn Bell

Editor Jocelyn Bell reflects on the upcoming changes for The United Church of Canada, the magazine and in her own life.

Promotional Image


ObserverDocs: Two nurses tackle Vancouver's opioid crisis

Richard Moore is a resident of Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. In this poignant interview, he explains the important work of nurses Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles.

Promotional Image


June 2018

The moment the Pope asked me to pray for him

by Miriam Spies

A United Church minister on the impact of a simple gesture from a powerful man.


July 2018

Best self-care tips for caregivers

by Kate Spencer

Counsellors, teachers and ministers share what it looks like for them.


July 2018

Meet your 2018 moderator nominees

by Mike Milne

Later this month, General Council commissioners will choose the United Church’s next moderator. As of press time, 10 leadership hopefuls had been announced. We asked each of them to sum up their pitch in a tweet.


July 2018

A fond farewell to presbyteries

by Steven Chambers

They will likely be eliminated this year as the United Church restructures. Steven Chambers celebrates the end of an era.


July 2018

Instead of retirement, these two nurses are battling Vancouver's opioid crisis

by Roberta Staley

At age 71 and 65 respectively, Evanna Brennan and Susan Giles embrace their unconventional work in the Downtown Eastside.


June 2018

I hate you, Canada, for teaching people to treat me like this under your name

by Zach Running Coyote

A Cree actor says he blames our country for the racist comments recently directed at him in a McDonald's restaurant.

Promotional Image