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From Angels to Aliens: Teenagers, the Media, and the Supernatural Hardcover – March 27, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

What Wade Clark Roof did for understanding Baby Boomer spirituality with A Generation of Seekers, Clark does with this insightful, well-written ethnographic introduction to the spiritual lives of a new generation. Clark relies heavily on interviews and first-person reports from teens, then attempts to understand what they are saying through the lens of larger demographic and sociological trends. Many teens (by which Clark means those roughly between the ages of 11 and 21) privilege personal experience over institutional authority and consider themselves spiritual but not necessarily religious. Their spirituality is eclectic and often non-traditional, as they blend elements from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition with new interest in mysticism, Eastern religions and the occult. Clark, a professor at the University of Colorado's School of Journalism, is very attuned to the significance of media in teens' lives, and offers fascinating explorations into what television programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have to say about religion. Most interestingly, Clark also pays attention to the resurgence of "the dark side of evangelicalism," discussing the rise of popular interest in the apocalypse. One later chapter explores the ways some baby boomer parents "intentionally approach the media" and use it to discuss spiritual issues with their children. Clark's writing is engaging and fast-paced, and readers who aren't put off by the book's reliance on social theorists like Bourdieu and Gramsci will find this a surprisingly accessible book.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review


"Goes a long way towards putting religion and spirituality in a context with media interpretation and communicative practice.. the writing weaves popular culture, theory, and the stories of the teens in a way that is engaging and accessible to those experienced in the field, as well as to students."-- Journal of Communication


"What Wade Clark Roof did for understanding Baby Boomer spirituality with A Generation of Seekers, Clark does with this insightful, well-written... introduction to the spiritual lives of a new generation...engaging and fast-paced."--Publishers Weekly


"Intelligently written, this study will interest both scholars and casual readers"--Library Journal


"...provides a number of intriguing insights into teen spirituality and a solid understanding of the central role of religion in American culture"--The Washington Post Book World


"Working at the interstices of adolescence, spirituality, and the media, Lynn Schofield Clark finds, among other things, that popular interest in the supernatural can be attributed to the resurgence of evangelicalism in recent decades. It is a most provocative thesis, and From Angels to Aliens makes for a fascinating book.--Randall Balmer, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America


"A truly unique book, From Angels to Aliens uses solid empirical evidence to spin out an engaging story about adolescence and media culture, with an ironic twist about traditional evangelicalism unintentionally promoting a broad cultural fascination with the supernatural and the occult." --Christian Smith, Professor of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Director of the National Study of Youth and Religion


"In this subtle and focused study Lynn Schofield Clark addresses one of the most significant linkages in contemporary social experience--religion, mass media, and the youth audiences addressed by both. The connecting point is the fluid notion of 'the supernatural.' Clark shows just how complex these topics come to be in any attempt to understand how 'teens' work to define their own beliefs in a world flooded with images and symbols yet still structured by categories such as the family, economic conditions, and peer groups. This book is valuable for sociologists of religion, media studies scholars, and students of 'youth culture.' Even more important, it should direct the attention of these groups to topics too often neglected or dismissed as trivial."--Horace Newcomb, Lambdin Kay Distinguished Professor for the Peabodys, Director of the Peabody Awards Program


"This is an important study for two reasons, one, it helps us to better understand the world of the supernatural as seen through the eyes of teenagers, and two, it sheds new insight on the crucial role of the media in the formation of supernatural beliefs-even on the part of those who resist media influence. Highly recommended for general readers, and not just for academics who study religion and the media." --Wade Clark Roof, J.F. Rowny Professor of Religion and Society, University of California at Santa Barbara


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (March 27, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195156099
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195156096
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 1 x 6.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,696,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lynn Schofield Clark is Professor in Media Studies at the University of Denver and is author of several books and articles about how communication media are reshaping our collective lives. Her first book won the 2003 National Communication Association's award for Best Scholarly Book in Ethnography and her most recent was selected as an Outstanding Academic Title by Choice. She blogs and tweets about digital media as it relates to parenting and authority, journalism, teens and tweens, public life, and education.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
This is a fascinating study of the role of media and religion in the lives of young people. As a media studies scholar, I found the book refreshing in its clarity and in its interest in how teens think about and deal with the notion of the supernatural.
The author's use of ethnographic techniques gives the book detail and depth, as it goes far beyond the limits of survey research to look at religion in American culture. This is a must-read for everyone interested in culture and media, as it deals seriously with profound changes in American society.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Great book for anyone trying to understand how teenagers think about religion. Clark challenges easy definitions of what constitutes religious expression and symbol by spending serious time and effort listening to teens talk about their beliefs and what they listen to, watch and read. The author makes some particularly fascinating observations about teenage interest in aliens and marginalization. Angels to Aliens will appeal to people trying to understand younger members of congregations as well as those who find themselves outside organized religion.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Anne Borden on September 25, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Lynn Schofield Clark provides us with the exciting opportunity to venture into the various worlds of teen spirituality. Her analysis covers everything from rituals of the spend-the-night party games like ouija boards and "light as a feather" where one teen levitates to television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

Clark miraculously combines the book knowledge of an academic and the deep understanding and caring of a church youth group volunteer.

I recommend this book for anyone who works with youth (e.g., teachers; youth pastors) as well as parents of teens. It would also make a fabulous addition to college courses. Clark applies theories from Sociology, Cultural Studies, and Media Studies to down-to-earth examples that students are sure to enjoy!
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3 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Suzanne on July 27, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Ms. Clark has written a book about her interviews with young people and their families and has tried to draw conclusions about their religious beliefs from their television-watching habits. There are so many questions raised in the reader's mind that the book can hardly be called a valid study--perhaps an extensive opinion poll would be more apt.
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