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After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings Are Shaping the Future of American Religion Paperback – March 14, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (March 14, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691146144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691146140
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 6 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,652 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In a volume sure to change how pundits and clergy think about religion in the contemporary U.S., prolific Princeton sociologist Wuthnow (American Mythos) assembles and analyzes a vast amount of data about the religious lives of Americans aged 21 to 45. His interests include the extent to which younger adults participate in organized worship, as well as how they think about spirituality, the relationship between religion and politics, and theology. Wuthnow insists that in some ways, today’s younger adults are similar to their boomer parents—the vitality of small groups, for example, is nothing new. But there are key differences, chief among them the tendency of today’s younger adults to remain single longer than ever before. Married people are significantly more likely to participate in religious communities; at the same time, participation in at least some religious groups may make marriage more likely. Wuthnow argues that our society provides lots of structural support for children and teens, but leaves younger adults to fend for themselves during the decades when they’re making crucial decisions about family and work. Though long passages of dense statistics make for a sometimes clunky read, this book is terrifically important. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Robert Wuthnow of Princeton has just published a tremendously valuable book, After the Baby Boomers that looks at young adulthood through the prism of religious practice."--David Brooks, New York Times

"In a volume sure to change how pundits and clergy think about religion in the contemporary U.S., prolific Princeton sociologist Wuthnow assembles and analyzes a vast amount of data about the religious lives of Americans aged 21 to 45... Wuthnow argues that our society provides lots of structural support for children and teens, but leaves younger adults to fend for themselves during the decades when they're making crucial decisions about family and work. Though long passages of dense statistics make for a sometimes clunky read, this book is terrifically important."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"Robert Wuthnow, [a] distinguished sociologist of religion...focuses on...a group that is not just the harbinger of the future but that already constitutes about half the country's adult population. Wuthnow has a great deal to say about marriage, weddings, marital happiness and parenting [and] describes modest changes in worship services and programs that might help congregations engage young adults, especially unmarried ones."--Peter Steinfels, New York Times

"Wuthnow has analyzed an impressive array of data and provided a thought provoking argument about the future, and the present, of American religion."--Matthew T. Loveland, Catholic Books Review

"[This book provides] a challenge to think more broadly about the future of the church, assisted by a leading sociologist's analysis of current trends."--Brian D. McLaren, Christian Century

"As generations pass and distance grows, so do the values which issues from the body of believers gathered in...the church...Robert Wuthnow's important new book After the Baby Boomers...is a potential wake-up signal, an alarm blast."--Martin Marty, Sightings

"Christian leaders who are ready for change will not find a prescription or program in After the Baby Boomers. What they will find is a challenge to think more broadly about the future of the church, assisted by a leading sociologist's analysis of current trends. And they will find something else: a sympathetic voice speaking on behalf of young adults who are highly interested in God, highly in need of guidance and support, highly networked and networkable, highly available to be equipped for vital mission, and largely uninspired by what churches are currently doing...I find myself even more eager to be part of the solution to the problems raised by Wuthnow. Much is at stake."--Brian McLaren, Christian Century

"Wuthnow shares the concerns of religious and spiritual leaders because...he understands the great benefits religion provides society...[A] precise study...After the Baby Boomers is a work of social science [that paints] a detailed picture of the lives of young adults today."--Patton Dodd, Shambhala Sun

"Princeton University's Robert Wuthnow, the most distinguished sociologist of religion in America today, has presented a timely and important text for pastors and those who are concerned about the future of religious communities in America. After the Baby Boomers offers pastors and church leaders an important text to ponder. Wuthnow places his finger on many issues that the church must confront."--Andrew Root, Word & World

"Open any page of Robert Wuthnow's latest book, After the Baby Boomers, and you are sure to find a nugget of data that will add nuance to some of the well-worn assumptions about he religious lives of the so-called Generation X."--Michelle Dillon, Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion

"Wuthnow's text is a refreshing read. . . . [He] does an excellent job of addressing the cultural shifts that explain why it is the case the young adults are less involved in religious institutions. As a macrolevel study, he astutely ties personal level practices to larger social forces, and tacitly employs the sociological imagination--a skill that non-academic readers could find informative."--Katrina C. Hoop, International Review of Modern Sociology

"After the Baby Boomers is a dense but fascinating read; I had trouble deciding which chapters not to assign to my classes. . . . Every chapter of this book contains questions churches and religious leaders must face--and soon."--Kenda Creasy Dean, Theology Today

"Robert Wuthnow has analyzed an impressive array of data and provided a thought provoking argument about the future, and the present, of American religion."--Matthew T. Loveland, Catholic Books Review

"This is an interesting book. . . . The object lesson in the skillful analysis of survey data is instructive, and the call to focus more analysis on young adults (especially this generation of young adults) is timely and thoughtful."--Anthony J. Filipovitch, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

"Wuthnow's book stands out as a timely, comprehensive, and thoughtful effort. Mixing a tremendous amount of empirical survey evidence with detailed qualitative interviews, the book covers a lot of ground, including emerging issues pertaining to immigration and new technology. Posing a number of smart questions that are ripe for political science answers, it is a sophisticated and yet accessible commentary on the future of American religion that is more than deserving of a place on bookshelves."--Anand Edward Sokhey, Cambridge Journals

"The strength of this book lies . . . in its careful analysis of a very wide range of largely quantitative data. Wuthnow is bitingly critical of sociologists of religion--particularly rational choice theorists--whose work is long on theory and short on evidence. This volume exemplifies the opposite--long on evidence, shorter on theory and explanation."--Linda Woodhead, Religion Journal

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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By F. P. Desiano on March 18, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Wurthnow comes with a formidable reputation and he certainly is no slouch in this book which reviews, condenses and depicts the results of many studies of the "post baby boomer" generation(s), sticking with people between the 20s and 45 years of age. He debunks some casual and widely held myths (e.g., how one generation appears to differ from another) and concentrates on the pretty hard numbers that track changes in the life styles of young people. . . and their consequences for churches. This book seems shaped as a resource for pastors, but almost anyone dealing with the young will get a lot out of it. Well worth the price and the read.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By R. Channing Johnson on April 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This books is a must for those who follow Generational Cohorts but suspect it may be pushed too far as the defining mechanism behind Generation X and Y. Wuthnow looks at the differences in life stages Independence, work force, marriage, children) between 21 to 45 year olds in 2000 (Generation X and Y) AND 1974 (Boomers). Lots of good data and analysis in longitudianal studies that comapre two cohorts at the same age. Differences in age of marriage and percent who do not marry, for instance, explains a lot of the differences in attendance and participation in religion. Be ready to plow through lots of data and disciplined conlusions
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By M. Abe on December 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After reading Smith and Denton's book, Soul Searching, with its great statistics on teens and faith, I wanted a book that was similar with information on young adults. I needed facts, not feelings, and this book offers that. I find it fascinating and easy reading, though I must admit I don't study every table carefully! It has been quite useful in my thesis work with young adults and faith.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Joel L. Watts VINE VOICE on November 8, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The author's point, I believe, is better made in almost the middle of the book when he begins to write about the `institutionalization' of the relationship between society and religion (p158). I say that this is the point because for the previous few chapters, numbers are thrown out to show that our institutions, such as marriage and other developmental decisions, are changing for a large section of our population. As these traits become instilled (think Western Europe) in our society at large, what will that do to our pre-existing institutions, such as the Church? Wuthnow is correct that institutions underwent a massive change in the 1830's leaving us with institutions which remain, or at least remained, until the 1960's. Now, we are in a period of transition, due to such things as education, a move from a manufacturing based society to a service economy, and the influx of sometimes radically different voices and values into our culture. The author makes a fine point that change has happened and is happening now in the way our generation approaches religion. For example, Wuthonow notes that `orthodoxy' is shifting for many. While it may be professed, it is not always lived or expressed as professed (p122). My concern here is that Wuthnow never fully defines orthodoxy which is different, he rightly notes, among Mainline and Evangelical church goers. While reading, we are often left wondering what things such as `orthodox', `evangelical' and `biblical literalist' may actually mean to the author and to the respondents on the various surveys. Often times, people consider themselves one way and will use the same words to define themselves as such that another person would use in a radically different way.Read more ›
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