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Not Your Mother's Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better [Kindle Edition]

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In Not Your Mother’s Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better, Jonathan D. Fitzgerald argues that today’s popular music, movies, TV shows, and books are making the world a better place. For all the hand-wringing about the decline of morals and the cheapening of culture in our time, contemporary media brims with examples of fascinating and innovative art that promote positive and uplifting moral messages--without coming across as “preachy.”

The catch? Today’s moral messages can be quite different than the ones your mother taught you. Fitzgerald compares the pop culture of yesterday with that of today and finds that while both are committed to major ideals—especially God, Family, and Country—the nature of those commitments has shifted.

In his witty, expressive style, Fitzgerald explains how we’ve arrived at the era of New Sincerity and why it’s good news for our future.

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald’s writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Daily Beast, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Religion Dispatches and more. He is an editor at and writes a column for the popular religion website Patheos.

Product Details

  • File Size: 300 KB
  • Print Length: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Bondfire Books (May 29, 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00D33HNG0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #868,492 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
The conversation in Fitzgerald's work centers on the shifting definition of morality from the idyllic 1950s-style morality invoked by many in the conservative movement (i.e. your mother's morals, or perhaps grandmother's to be more precise) to what the author terms "The New Sincerity" of the present day.

Using examples from TV to movies to music to books to politics, Fitzgerald puts forward an argument that cultural trends point toward an emerging sincerity and authenticity in the millennial generation. This sincerity means that far from eliminating morality from the conversation, many avenues of popular culture have moved it to the center. However, the morality in question differs in many ways from traditional moral leanings, or as Fitzgerald puts it, a move from a "moral code" to a "moral posture."

Fitzgerald adopts a rather tongue-in-cheek rhetorical vehicle to develop this moral posture by utilizing the classical conservative refrain of "God, Family, and Country."

In the section about God, Fitzgerald examines the role of religion, spirituality, and doubt in popular culture, especially when it comes to music such as indie rock. He uses examples like Arcade Fire and Sufjan Stevens as musical acts who express an interest in theological questions, even if they're not expressed in a traditional style. He also explores the God-like characteristics found in superheroes both in comic book form and blockbuster-style movies.

The Family section explores how movies and television have helped to shape an evolving view of families.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Accessible and Keen-sighted intro to the New Sincerity January 26, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
[This review first appeared on
24 January 2013]

Jonathan Fitzgerald, editor of Patrol Magazine, has offered in his new ebook Not Your Mother's Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better, an excellent introduction to the ethos of the New Sincerity. A 21st Century movement in pop culture, the New Sincerity is characterized by its willingness to convey morality through the stories it tells, and to foster a "cool to care" mentality. It is perhaps best understood in contrast to the "detached irony and cynicism" of previous generations (especially Generation X). "The New Sincerity asks nothing more of us than that we act authentically and out of sincere motivations, considering what is right not just for us but for those around us;" says Fitzgerald, "It asks only that, but then, that is really all there is."

The bulk of the book is spent expositing the New Sincerity, and simultaneously offering an apology for this new movement. Fitzgerald's exposition is very helpful, and indeed well worth the price of the book. He explores this movement through the traditional lenses of God, Family and Country, emphasizing how these virtues are being reinterpreted by the New Sincerity in the new millennium. To these traditional values, Fitzgerald adds a fourth, the Environment. In regard to God, Fitzgerald observes how faith was an important driving force in the early indie music scene, among artists like Sufjan Stevens, David Bazan, Arcade Fire, Neutral Milk Hotel and others. He also explores new attitudes toward God that are being expressed more recently in the world of comic books. To explore the New Sincerity's posture toward the Family, Fitzgerald turns to the television show Modern Family and Freaks and Geeks.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Fitzgerald makes a well-rounded, culturally astute case for the "New Sincerity" that seems to be exploding from all areas of popular culture. Among other things, he posits that pop culture may be forming more of our collective and individual morality than we're aware. "Not Your Mother's Morals" is a quick and sometimes funny read that will cause you to look at pop culture ephemera in a new, moral light.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Positive thoughts on popular culture January 16, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Far too often the moment we leave our twenties we assume a curmudgeonly posture toward all products of popular culture. The author here does a great job of accentuating the positive, noting that our values as a society are becoming more important, not less. Fitzgerald does a great job of pointing out relevant examples of music, movies and television that are overtly concerned with issues surrounding family, personal responsibility and justice. While I wished he had delved into some of the darker samples out there, the Dexters and the Mad Men for example, I think he proves his point that our culture has largely moved beyond selfish preoccupation with wealth and status and has started to think more 'morally' about our responsibility to our fellow humans and how that should impact our daily lives, even as we become less overtly 'religious'. It's a short, sweet overview and rather than concluding the issue, it causes the reader to analyze the culture he or she consumes through this lens. There seems to be much more to unpack regarding the 'New Sincerity'. Perhaps a sequel is in the works? I'll certainly be coming back for more if so.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Reads like a string of really long blog posts
Quick read exploring the New Sincerity and Christian faith from Fitzgerald's personal perspective. It is an okay book. Read more
Published 4 months ago by DDMom
3.0 out of 5 stars A short sermon the the choir.
Disclaimer: I am genuinely encouraged that this movement is being given notice and agree with almost everything the author states. Read more
Published 18 months ago by Justin Dierdorf
4.0 out of 5 stars Worth my time
A solid, clever read. Nothing groundbreaking, but this is Fitzgerald 's passion and it shows; I'm psyched to see what else he writes.
Published 18 months ago by William Martin
4.0 out of 5 stars Decent Treatise, Not Too Dense, Makes the Case Well
I enjoyed the author's interview on the On Pop Theology podcast discussing this book. It is a good examination of the generational shift in tone, putting ironic detachment... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Andrew C. Weaver
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Full of fun ideas and critical thought. Fast-paced and enjoyable. Pick it up and dream of being more sincere, please.
Published on February 23, 2013 by Joe Skillen
2.0 out of 5 stars Postmodern Illogic
Back in 1968, in The God Who Is There, Francis Schaeffer wrote that the problem with communicating Christianity to a new generation was centered on a new view of truth, one... Read more
Published on February 12, 2013 by M. Duran
5.0 out of 5 stars Insightful!
Incredibly readable and engaging. His thoughts are expressed articulately in a conversational tone. Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with his conclusions, he clearly... Read more
Published on February 11, 2013 by Benjamin K. Lemcke
5.0 out of 5 stars Thanks
I appreciated this book with a perspective on the current culture. It has given me quotes to chew on and a hope for the church to approach this generation with the Truth minus the... Read more
Published on January 25, 2013 by M. kay
5.0 out of 5 stars For Christians especially, but not just
What do Wes Anderson films, Sufjan Stevens, Lady Gaga's meat dress, and skinny jeans all have in common? Read more
Published on January 17, 2013 by Rebekah Mays
4.0 out of 5 stars Raises Lots of Important Questions about Our Culture
Not Your Mother's Morals is a quick read, but its brevity belies its weight. Fitzgerald taps into a wave of fresh American pop morality decades in the making, shows us all why we... Read more
Published on January 16, 2013 by Mike McKinniss
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More About the Author

Jonathan D. Fitzgerald is author of Not Your Mother's Morals: How the New Sincerity is Changing Pop Culture for the Better (Bondfire Books, 2013).

He is a writer and educator whose work most often considers the various manifestations of religion in culture. Fitzgerald is an editor at and a contributor to the popular religion website Patheos.

As a freelancer, his work has appeared in The Atlantic, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Christianity Today, Religion Dispatches, The Huffington Post, Killing the Buddha, The Jersey City Independent, and more.


"Jonathan Fitzgerald is a young talent in the religion journalism world."

-Mark Oppenheimer, "Beliefs" columnist for the New York Times and author

"In a world full of paper-thin facades and knock-offs, Jonathan Fitzgerald points the way forward to a more authentic future. In Not Your Mother's Morals, he explains how the new sincerity movement in contemporary pop culture is making way for moral storytelling in unlikely places. I highly recommend this engaging book written by one of the rising generation's most thoughtful cultural observers."

- Jonathan Merritt, author of A Faith of Our Own: Following Jesus Beyond the Culture Wars

"I say this -- and I say it sincerely -- that Jonathan Fitzgerald is an astute observer of Christianity in Western culture. By turning 'conventional wisdom' on its head, he shows us some truth we would not otherwise have seen: that the 'new sincerity' is in fact good for us, for our faith, and for our culture. Someone might even say that it's virtuous. Highly recommended."

-Tony Jones blogs at Patheos, writes books on Christian theology, and is the theologian-in-residence at Solomon's Porch in Minneapolis

"Our generation of writers has spent an enormous amount of energy trying to understand where Christian engagement with popular culture was going after the evangelical bubble exploded. 'Not Your Mother's Morals' has arrived just as we're able to start looking back and making sense of the trajectory, and it is an excellent guide to a cultural landscape that many of our parents are just beginning to understand."

-David Sessions, religion reporter for Newsweek/The Daily Beast and founding editor of

"Fitzgerald is poignant, with a voice that forces you to confront the source of your perspective. This work expresses emerging generations' sentiments simply, effectively, and vitally. He makes a point that many have felt, but few can articulate."

-Andrew Schwab, Frontman of Project 86 and Author of The Tin Soldiers


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