The Pious, the Pig and the Mipsters

As traumatising as it was to commit lexical suicide, I’ve gotten over the horror of the title of this post and its unfulfilled alliteration. And so should you, because it’s Easter! Hurah!

Easter is a rather odd celebration. A relic of pious days gone by, there seems to be a divergence over Easter weekend, on whether it is a national or religious event for most people (like Christmas). For the devout, it is an expression of religious piety, the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. For our secular layman, it’s the annual, opportunistic gorging of shrink-wrapped confectionary, and the novelty of a knee’s up on a Sunday, with the blissful prospect of a bank holiday to follow.

Enlightenment thinkers thought they had ditched the old religious chestnut long ago, and that by the time millennial culture had evolved we would no longer be enslaved by any icon. God would become a hazy memory, banished to the region of nostalgic inferences belittling our past selves (“Remember when we used to think the world was flat? l.o.l”) However, it is apparent that in our post-enlightened, post-modern, post-everything age religion is still as important as ever.

What with the passing of the homosexual laws in Uganda, and the Pope’s apology for the clergy’s penchant for pubescence (say that ten times fast), Christianity has been receiving a lot of bad rep on the world stage. On a more domestic level, the appointment of an ex-terrorist specialist to look into the Birmingham School situation indicates that our national feeling toward religious zeal is perhaps a tad jumpy. Our PM has been criticised in the press over possessing religious values that potentially intrude on his duties as a man of the state. However David Cameron’s defence embraces these accusations, in his Easter article in the Church Times on the role of faith as a national instrument:

Some people feel that in this ever more secular age we shouldn’t talk about these things. I completely disagree. I believe we should be more confident about our status as a Christian country, more ambitious about expanding the role of faith-based organisations, and, frankly, more evangelical about a faith that compels us to get out there and make a difference to people’s lives.

(Hmm. Not sure how well that is going to go down David. You might want to start praying for your own resurrection, otherwise you’ll be joining the crucified ranks with Miller).

Now I am hardly an existential hardliner. In occupying the arid zone of intellectual thought that perches rather precariously on the metaphorical fence, my thoughts on religion are wooly to say the least.  However, it is clear that people’s relationship with religion is changing, and that religious structures are needing to continuously evolve to keep apace. Like everything in this world people and institutions, whether secular or religious, are needing to adapt in a world that is fast moving.

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This notion of the changing role of religion leads me not onto the Christian faith, but the rise of a new phenomenon amongst young Muslims in America: Mipsterz

Mipsterz

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A definition is in order. A Mipster is the synthesis of a Muslim and – yep you guessed it – a hipster. According to a Huffington Post article:

A Mipster is someone who seeks inspiration from the Islamic tradition of divine scriptures, volumes of knowledge, mystical poets, bold prophets, inspirational politicians, esoteric Imams, and our fellow human beings searching for transcendental states of consciousness. A Mipster is an ironic identity, one that serves more as a perpetual critique of oneself and of society.

A youtube version of Jay-Z’s ‘Somewhere in America’ that champions this Mipster message has been making waves on the internet, causing outrage and appreciation, critics and followers:

Some have attacked the idea, criticising the use of the hijab as a fashion accessory:

The process of creating ‘normal’ is also stripping us, especially women, away from central parts of our faith. The Mipsterz video is hard to stomach for so many because it throws the increasing Islamofashionista culture into your face. Catwalk ready, catwalk strut and catwalk ‘tude seem so antithetical to what we know and expect, sometimes zealously, as Islamic modesty. This isn’t about policing what we wear and how or about casting judgment, but about the sort of culture we’re creating for Muslim women’s dress that is no diferrent than the images and lifestyles sans hijab we criticize. -Sana Saeed

Whereas others see the sub-culture as a sign of empowerment:

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Whether or not religion is adapting fast enough to keep apace with intellectual currants, fashion trends and all other movements which sway beliefs and opinions, I say that anything that gets people talking is a good thing. Whether mipsterz are a group to be applauded or laughed at, they have engaged people in a dialogue, not just of what it means to be an American muslim woman, but what it means to be religious and living in the present day.

As long we are all happy, who cares?

 A superficial holiday or not, Happy Easter everyone!

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