Paul Brandeis Raushenbush writes in The Huffington Post that Christanity has become cool again. He begins with a historical coolness of Christian leaders:
There was a time when Christians like Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Berrigan brothers, Thomas Merton, Paul Tillich, Dorothy Day, Henri Nouwen, Howard Thurman, Reinhold Niebuhr and John XXIII offered the basic framework for what Christianity meant to the world.
Collectively, these men and women offered some of the most philosophically deep and socially relevant thought of any kind. They inspired a generation of young people to work in racial reconciliation, environmentalism, economic justice, and anti-war activism. They fed the spirit, while also walking in Jesus’ way of justice and peace.
Raushenbush laments the lack of these types of voices within recent history, but he hopes that perhaps the tide is turning. He suggests what a “cool Christian week” this has been thanks to Pope Francis and his words on justice and peace (along with his softening on LGBT peoples), and Archbishop Tutu’s words that he would rather go to hell than a homophobic heaven.
(Raushenbush also suggests that part of the return to cool has to do with the fact that “the Episcopal Church is headed by an amazing woman who is both a scientist and pastor and who is spearheading the conversation between science and religion.”)
He also shares a story of invite by his inviting colleagues to a “disco mass” on Gay Pride Sunday in New York:
We had a great time at the church. My friends fell in love with the pastor whose style was relaxed and hip, and whose sermon was smart and compelling. They loved the community feel of the congregation, and they thought the ideas they heard there a good way to start gay pride.
Mind you, neither of them had been to church of their own volition — ever. And they may never go back to church. I really don’t care — they are wonderful, spiritual, and ethical people — I don’t need them to become Christian.
However, by being there they understood a little more about why I am Christian, and how Christianity guides the way I view the world and do the things I do. And even with that short glimpse they respected my faith more than they had before.
If more Christians can speak out the way Pope Francis and Archbishop Tutu have this week and so many have been in recent memory — it will change the way people view Jesus and the faith that he inspires in so many of us.
And that will be so cool.
The end of Raushenbush’s post includes a slideshow of “cool Christians” that leads off with Tutu, followed by Gene Robinson.