Some book titles simply take one’s breath away: Life is Worth Living by Archbishop Fulton Sheen; The Long Loneliness by Dorothy Day; The Seven Storey Mountain by Thomas Merton, to name a few in the Catholic category.
Add to that list The Catholic Hipster Handbook by Tommy Tighe. The subtitle is equally intriguing: Rediscovering Cool Saints, Forgotten Prayers, and Other Weird but Sacred Stuff.
When I think of Catholic hipsters, St. Francis of Assisi, his saintly friend Clare, and the musical artist John Michael Talbot come to mind. But I was more than a little curious about the types of people the author would classify as Catholic hipsters. Could I possibly meet the test?
The fact that Tighe is a father gave me some hope—many people dismiss parents as being decidedly unhip, so the fact that he felt qualified to write on the topic of Catholic hipness made me optimistic.
The book has a theme of rediscovery—rediscovering the attitude, the stuff, the life, and the attraction of Catholic hipness.
And it is that theme that thrills me the most because, after reading the book, I felt like suggesting it to a father whose daughter, while certainly hip, no longer engages in religious practice. As a result, I see The Catholic Hipster Handbook as more than just a clever assessment of Catholic culture. It can also serve as an incredible tool for evangelization, especially for Millennials. (Research indicates that Millennials are leaving the church in discouraging numbers. Works such as this one could help to entice them back to the religion of their childhood.)
Therefore, while the intended audience is, as the introduction notes, people such as “the guy who fell in love the first time you went to Mass in the Extraordinary Form” and “the gal sneaking a peek at your Breviary app during your work meeting,” the book is so deftly written it could easily inspire people who are ripe for falling in love again with the Catholic faith.
Tigue is aided by a group of writers who personify the different aspects of Catholic hipness, from Sister Brittany Harrison noting that “You’re royal, even if you can’t see your crown,” to Sergio Bermudez, waxing philosophic on Catholic slang (Hint: “Guard your heart” means “Don’t get too anxious or start planning that wedding right away. Just be cool.”).
The Catholic Hipster Handbook is highly informative, offering insights into “cool saints” such as St. Francis De Sales, St. Jerome, and St. Teresa of Avila, among a host of others. Lyrical “forgotten prayers” feed the spiritually hungry soul, while the innovative activities offered with each chapter provide innovative ways to celebrate Catholic culture. For instance, one activity provides guidance on how to have a hipster Catholic, Pope St. John Paul II-inspired camping trip.
What I loved most about The Catholic Hipster Handbook was how it mixes spirit with substance. While the book provides plenty of meditation material, it also explores earthly matters such as farmer’s markets, Twitter, and even craft beer and beards!
The Catholic Hipster Handbook is a work every bit as fascinating as its title. Its creativity and good humor leap off the page, making it one excellent literary adventure.
What aspects of Catholic faith and practice do you find especially captivating?
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Copyright 2017 Maria Gallagher