This is a snapshot of an evolving subcultural moment centered around Christianity. I briefly cover what we’re seeing right now, how we got here, share examples, and further reading. If you’re interested in exploring this more DM or email me.
We’ve been in a moment of cultural exploration and appreciation of Christianity in both sincerity and post-sincerity. Not in the 2000-2010s ironic/post-ironic way but something less self-referential. It’s more bottom-left and right quadrant than what the church is used to.
Memes, imagery, art, music, and creative projects are cropping up all over Twitter, Instagram, and Discord.
Crypto and AI art communities share a healthy interest in Christian imagery similar to Dali’s Christianized Surrealism.
Several projects and a slew of podcasts inspired by turn-of-the-millennia CCM and 1990s Christian bookstore culture have already come (and gone)
Why is this?
The recent trend is one of a handful of cultural trends in the West.
- Pentecostalism is considered the fastest growing Christian denomination, second in size only to Catholicism
- Existing ebbs and flows of Western “cultural Christianity” combined with politicized Evangelicalism, and “majority church culture”
- The recent subculture development (see below)
With the traditional and the marginal interests converging — even if ideological opposed — this makes for an interesting time, which is, in no doubt, accelerated by very public conversions from artists like Ye and Bieber. However, I believe the so-called Twitter accelerationist Christianity will ultimately evolve into something more like religious syncretism. My bet is a merger with late-2010s magick considering the lowercase-A art world’s interest in it and the more general growing interest in witches. The other path is abandonment altogether.
More on the current moment.
The current moment is like a 100 gecs song — a mash of everything at once. Sincere, pastiche/satire, and otherwise. While Xers were ashamed of their faith and Millennials tried to hide it behind irony, Zoomers are openly exploring. Sometimes with a wink, but more often with a pastiche that follows the footsteps of ADR’s Chunky Monkey. That said, there is a gradient of subtle differences between monker178’s Total Annihilation DJ mix, the provocative nature of I Need God clothing, and the thinly veiled disaffection for a VBS homelife of Chester Lockert’s Girlboss project.
The moments that makeup today’s climate are:
- Jay Tholan’s Odd Church Discord
- Milady Maker PFP NFT
- The DC Talk Pitchfork review
- The network of podcasts from Boy’s Bible Study, Trans Regret Snoopy, Justin Murphy, Bible Buddies, and Christlover2000 (rip)
- John Mause
- Buum’s “Vibe Check”
- I Need God clothing
- Angelicism Twitter network
- Justin Bieber
- Revised gospel sounds from IAMNOBODI, Peter CottonTale, Budgie, and Sango to Blood Orange’s cover of the Clark Sisters, and Tyga’s newest 2021 single “Lift Me Up”
- The global rise of Pentecostalism
- Chip & Joanna Gaines, Selena Gomez, and Chris Pratt
- Chester Lockhart’s “Our God is an Awesome God”
- Lady Gaga’s “Sine from Above”
- Mary’s “Oh My God”
- Discovering that The Rapture’s 2011 album “How Deep is Your Love” is a worship album
Where things are going.
While the current mix of ideas, art, and projects are far from 20th-century mainstream Christian culture it makes me wonder what the late-1960s and early-1970s looked like just before the Jesus People movement. Perhaps a confusing confluence of hymns and psychedelic rock; New Age and Christianity; people looking for eternal peace and others looking for respite. For a moment David Axelrod, Black Sabbath, Bob Dylan, White Witch, Polly Niles, and several other “worldly” artists began exploring Christian themes in their music. At the end of the 1970s and early-1980s the integration happened, Christian rock became institutionalized, xianpsych outsiders like All Saved Freak Band became toxic but now in a religious way, and a majority culture developed into the next couple of decades (but not without some minor bumps). It’s unclear when we can expect to see another Jesus People-style movement, but the dots seem to be creating a trendline.
I believe the confluence of cultural Christianity, sincere alt-whatever fringes, and new Pentecostals will continue to create new and very unexpected mutations in the search for finding something greater than ourselves. I anticipate all sides to be as surprised like I continue to be while I watch from my corner of the world.
- House and Minimal House legend Robert Hood
- UK Garage originator, Todd Edwards
- Foolishness of God — Outsider Spirituals, a playlist of spirituals from artists Daniel Johnston, Wesley Willis, and Wild Man Fischer (Jandek is not on Spotify)
- The Misfit’s Jerry Only created the Christian metal band Kryst the Conqueror
- Witch house’s brief interest in the sacred (see: BLOWN, SALEM)
- Zaytoven playing church organ
- Around 2019 CCM-inspired Y2K pop music from Mary and tracks produced by Ash Nerve and Chester Lockhart (see: Oh My God, Our God is an Awesome God, Sine from Above)
- The Pitchfork review of Jesus Freak was accompanied by a comprehensive CCM Spotify playlist
- Jeff Hatrix from Mushroomhead sharing his testimony
- The Soft Pink Truth’s Shall We Go On Sinning So That Grace May Increase
- Horde’s holy unblack metal album, Hellig Usvart
- James Ferraro Christmas album
- Richard Souther, the Jesus People musician who made it on the New Age Billboard charts, helped start the 1990s chant craze with Vision
- “Where else did they copy their styles but from church groups?: Rock ‘n’ Roll and Pentecostalism in the 1950s South”