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Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today Paperback – August 31, 2004

4.8 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Next month, Yale will publish Mark Oppenheimer's Knocking on Heaven's Door, a study of how the 1960s changed the face of mainstream American religion. Similarly, in Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today, religion journalist Don Lattin traces the religious legacy of the turbulent decade. Unlike Oppenheimer, however, he focuses his attention most toward alternative movements: the Esalen Institute, the Hare Krishnas, the Unification Church and the movement founded by Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. In one particularly engaging chapter, Lattin interviews the "dharma kids": second-generation American Buddhists like Dharma Punx author Noah Levine.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“A very readable, thoughtful book about the generation that came of age during the 60s.” (Orville Schell, Dean, Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley)

“Lattin’s book is a fascinating, provocative and ultimately upbeat journey.” (San Francisco Chronicle)

“[Lattin’s] book seeks to stand up for the ‘60s, without giving it a free pass.” (Nashville Tennessean)

“Lattin ... captures the double vision of religion, always looking forward and backward at the same time.” (Washington Post)

“Much terrific reporting, captivating storytelling, and enjoyable reading... a worthwhile, thought-provoking work.” (Yoga Journal)

“A wise and witty examination.” (Detroit Free Press)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: HarperOne; Reprint edition (August 31, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060730633
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060730635
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,439,002 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I really recommend this book. It's like good tea; after it steeps awhile it permeates your thoughts. I felt transformed into worlds I never entered, and remembered some I touched closely. Some of these worlds are pretty far from the mundane world I live in, and it's exciting to read about the questioning of our common day-to-day realities. It helps that the writer is a reporter, because his writing sizzles.
The historical aspect of it, along with some courageous personal reactions, make it read like someone telling a good, funny, and bizarre story. It's hard to believe some of this stuff really happened, but even if I was sometimes horrified and sometimes profoundly moved, it's nice to know that life doesn't always go according to plan. As one example, the Chapter on the Moonies tells a very strange, and in some ways tragic, tale of Reverend Moon and his establishing a base in the U.S. At the same time, the author talks about the middle ground where people as obviously crazy as Moon aren't always quite skewed as it first appears.
I didn't finish the book feeling that he's pushed his own value system, but rather that he's given me the background and information I need to really understand those times and their legacy better. On top of that, it's a great read.
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Having lived through the fertile and tumultuous late 60s as a college student in California, I found this overview of that era tied together many events and things I had never fully understood. Lattin is a deep and perceptive chronicler of that era. I like everything I have read by him in book form.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The book winds its way through personal narratives and “big picture” observations of the period that begins with the inaugural speech of President Kennedy and ends with the mass suicide of the Peoples Temple. There are plenty of bright spots, anecdotes, and observations in this book that make it an extremely worthwhile read for anyone interested in how religion in American public life changes during this period.

I’d say the brightest spot is the final chapter, which does an outstanding job taking all the previous work and summarizing the wide scale religious trends (both good and bad) of the decade. It could stand by itself as a very perceptive essay in the likes of Harper's or the Atlantic.

Other bright spots were the origins of Esalen, the turmoil of the Catholic Church and the narratives of those who grew up in communes. These chapters were insightful and touching. I didn’t really find much interest in the parts about the New Age movement because they focused on a few key players instead of the overarching theological or sociological trends.

The book was originally published in 2003 so has about 13 years of catching up to do. I’d love to see a future essay and analysis by Lattin on the Pew-documented rapid secularization of the American populace for it would be interesting to see from him how that relates to trends outlined in this book. Also, many of the socially progressive goals that were rooted in the 1960s have become increasingly more established (rights of minorities, reproductive health, marriage rights, etc.) and it would be interesting to hear his take on that. I found myself a few times in the book thinking, “That is no longer true,” “the Supreme Court just settled that one” and “People don’t argue about that anymore.”

Either way, it is a bit dated but a great book. The story he traces, though, is not over.
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