Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement

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Viking, 2006 - Religion - 254 pages
There’s a new youth movement afoot in this country. It’s a counterculture fusion of politics and pop, and it’s taking over a high school near you. Like the waves that came before it, it’s got passion, music, and anti-authority posturing, but more than anything else, this one has God. So what does it mean when today’s youth counterculture has a mindset more akin to Jerry Falwell’s than Abbie Hoffman’s?

In RIGHTEOUS: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, Lauren Sandler, a dynamic young journalist, reports from this junction of Evangelicalism and youth culture, traveling across the country to investigate the alternative Christian explosion. Using the grassroots modus operandi of the 1960s, these religious kids – part of the “Disciple Generation” as Sandler calls it – turn an antiauthoritarian sneer toward liberalism, feminism, pacifism, and every other hallmark of that era’s counterculture. And they’re engaging their peers with startling success, fusing pop culture, politics, and religion as they preach from the pulpit of the skate park, bar, and rock concert. Secular, liberal, and practically the embodiment of everything Evangelicalism deems unholy, Sandler travels with skateboard missionaries, hangs out with the tattooed members of a postpunk Seattle megachurch that has evolved into a self-sufficient community, camps out with a rock’n’roll antiabortion group, and gets to know the rap preachers who are merging hip-hop’s love of money with old-fashioned bible-beating fundamentalism. Much more than a mere observer, she connects with these young people on an intimate level, and the candor with which they reveal themselves to her is truly astonishing.

Illuminating, often troubling, and unapologetically frank, RIGHTEOUSintroduces a bold new voice into the ongoing debate over religion in American life. And it is the first in-depth front-line exploration of the country’s new moral majority – dressed up in punk-rock garb – and what its influence could mean for the future of America. BACKCOVER: Advanced Praise:
“Lauren Sandler obliterates the na´ve and complacent hope that keeps most secularists and religious moderates sleeping peacefully each night-the hope that, in 21st century America, the young know better than to adopt the lunatic religious certainties of a prior age. The young do not know better. In their schools, skate-parks, rock concerts, and in the ranks of our nation’s military, our children are gleefully preparing a bright future of ignorance and religious fascism for us all. If you have any doubt that there is a culture war that must be waged and won by secularists in America, read this book.”
—Sam Harris, author of The End of Faithand Letter to a Christian Nation

“It is no easy thing to enter into the world of the young evangelicals, to feel deeply their alienation, to breathe their air and share their electric conviction that they are the rising counterculture against an empty world. Lauren Sandler has done it, and done it with an effervescence and honesty that make her travels in Disciple America jump off the page.”
—Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University, and author of The Intellectuals and the Flag

"At once controversial, critical, blasphemous and compassionate, Righteous offers a compelling journey into a growing youth subculture typically dismissed by urban intellectuals. Sandler has written a provocative and illuminating portrait of young people desperately seeking meaning, community and love in an empty, often terrifying social landscape. Evangelical youth---the Disciple Generation--- are a generation rising, and we do need to pay attention.”
—Dr. Donna Gaines, sociologist and author of Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids and A Misfit's Manifesto: The Spiritual Journey of a Rock & Roll Heart

“Lauren Sandler has traveled among the believers and returned with a story that alarms, informs, and enlightens. She reveals the rise of a fundamentalist-style youth movement that has replaced faith with closed-minded certainty and is frighteningly cult-like. Read this book and you will understand this Disciple Generation and the challenge it poses to a civil society.”
—Michael D'Antonio, former Newsday religion writer and author of Fall From Graceand Heaven on Earth

Righteousis a lively, probing account of today's fresh, sometimes bizarre sub- cultures of American evangelism. Both the term ‘alternative’ and ‘evangelical’ will mean something new to you after this book. Sandler's conclusions are important: These kids have been forgotten by their original social worlds, by secular organizations and even by Left-Liberal causes. In a cold new world, getting saved can now seem like a young American's only source of community and warmth.”
—Alissa Quart, author of Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child

Righteousis the most adroit and fascinating examination of a great national ill, the muddling of faith and politics, the secular and the divine.”
—Brad Land, author of Goat

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - laurustina - LibraryThing

Parts of this book were disturbing. Parts were warm and fuzzy. And then, when I got to the chapter on Patrick Henry College, I was downright terrified. Even now, days later, I can't shake that creepy ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Devil_llama - LibraryThing

A look at the growing youth evangelical movement and their goal to evangelize everyone. Mostly thoroughly researched, though the author does take a little too much at face value, reporting all witness ... Read full review


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About the author (2006)

Lauren Sandleris the Life Editor of Salon. She has written about cultural politics for numerous newspapers and magazines including The Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, and has been featured on National Public Radio.

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