Saints

4 Ways in which Saint John the Baptist was the first hipster

Could anyone be more authentic and counter-cultural?

Did you know that Saint John the Baptist was the first hipster?

According to a definition at the Urban Dictionary, a hipster is a person who is “typically in their 20s and 30s that value[s] independent thinking, counter-culture…creativity, intelligence, and witty banter.” A hipster often sports “hair styles that include combinations of messy shag cuts,” beards, wears retro clothes often found at a thrift store and whose style is “not to be influenced by mainstream advertising and media.”

Hipsters typically eat organic and Fair Trade fruits and vegetables and own a fixed-gear bicycle that they take everywhere; preferring modes of transportation that are not harmful to the environment. They are also outspoken on social issues.

According to this definition, Saint John the Baptist was cool before it was cool 2,000 year ago!

Confused? Let’s unpack this definition.

Hipsters value independent thinking, are counter-cultural, and speak out on social issues. 

Who can beat living in the desert alone, baptizing people and vocally challenging the policies and conduct of the Pharisees and Sadducees? Saint John the Baptist even spoke out against King Herod’s illicit affair. His independent thinking and counter-cultural ideas got him into big trouble with “the man,” and led to his own martyrdom.

Hipsters enjoy creativity, intelligence and witty banter.

Saint John the Baptist was quite clever in his speech and displayed his intelligence when he was speaking against the establishment.

“You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit that befits repentance, and do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 3:7-10).

Hipsters love a shaggy-haired look, rough beards, vintage apparel and styles that aren’t mainstream.

“John wore a garment of camel’s hair, and a leather girdle around his waist.” (Matthew 3:4). Also, in every icon and depiction of the saint he has a scruffy look and long beard that rivals that of any modern-day hipster.

Hipsters eat organic or Fair Trade fruits and vegetables and choose modes of transportation that are not harmful to the environment.

“[H]is food was locusts and wild honey” and walked everywhere. Can’t get any more organic or eco-friendly than that!

Additionally, hipsters are often thought of as “trend-setters” who start things before they were cool. Saint John the Baptist was a firm believer in the Messiah before anyone caught onto the idea and paved the way for others to believe in Jesus.

So really a true hipster should look to Saint John the Baptist for inspiration, as he was a man of his own who didn’t care what others thought and prepared the world for the greatest “social movement” of all time.

What sets him apart as a model (not only for hipsters) is that Saint John’s actions were not part of a fad that passes over time or a façade, but an authentic inspiration from God. His sanctity did not derive from what he wore, ate, or looked like, but from his strong belief in God and that he would come again to save his people. He truly believed in his mission and helped others see that Jesus was not a mere prophet but the “Lamb of God.” That is why John the Baptist was not simply a “hipster,” but a saint.

 

 

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Philip Kosloski

Philip Kosloski is a husband and father of five, and staff writer at Aleteia. He also writes for The Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network (Apostleship of Prayer), and blogs at the National Catholic Register.