Buddhism isn't just for baby boomers anymore. As the spiritual marketplace continues to broaden in North America, Buddhism is emerging as a popular religious alternative among the young. Sumi Loundon, a practicing Buddhist and graduate student at Harvard Divinity School, has gathered a group of Generation X-ers and even younger Generation Y-ers around a virtual campfire to swap stories about what it means to be Buddhist. These are more than just your average tales of pious conversion or blissful living. Loundon's cadres find the relevance of Buddhism atop a sheer cliff face; in the throbbing heart of New York City; strung out on crack; in relationships good and bad; in tragic accidents; and in social activism. Some are monks, others punks; some meditate, others chant; some teach the dharma, others just live it. In this group, Buddhism is neither exotic nor a panacea. For many, it is a feeling of coming home and a proven method of coping while remaining open to the vicissitudes of life. Anyone who has felt the pull of Buddhism--the compelling arguments of its philosophy or the quiet expansiveness of it practices--will quickly identify with the personal experiences in this collection. Like Douglas Coupland's Generation X
, Blue Jean Buddha
could well become a book that defines and binds a group growing in self-awareness. --Brian Bruya
From Library Journal
A "twentysomething" American who grew up in the Zen Buddhist tradition, Loundon queried hundreds of her contemporaries in order to confirm that a generation of young Buddhists did in fact exist, to identify the challenges they face, and to define what it means to be a Buddhist in America today. She then asked 28 respondents mostly college-educated, self-identifying Buddhists in their twenties to write about how Buddhism has affected their self-transformations, life stories, and means of livelihood. This resulting collection of mostly brief, well-written, and interesting essays ranges from the poignant and inspiring (e.g., Jessica Morey's "Ordinary Awakening" and Seth Castleman's "If a Nice Jewish Boy Sits in a Cave, Does He Make a Difference?") to the sophomoric. Recommended as a secondary purchase for popular collections; more academic overviews of contemporary Buddhism in America can be found in The Faces of Buddhism in America (Univ. of California, 1998), edited by Charles Prebish and Kenneth Tanaka, and James Coleman's The New Buddhism (LJ 1/01). James R. Kuhlman, Univ. of North Carolina Lib., Asheville
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.