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Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement Hardcover – September 7, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (September 7, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670037915
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670037919
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.9 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (22 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,135,745 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

After several years of documenting America's Christian youth for NPR in the late 1990s, Sandler sensed there was more to tell about what she calls the "Disciple Generation." So, like any good journalist, she went back out on the road, traveling from coast to coast seeking the youth who "feel broken and lonely, who desire kinship and purpose, who look for structure and hope, and through their deft organizing efforts and boundless energy...are amassing their own civilian army." A Christian army, that is. Readers will encounter rebel skateboarders for Jesus, tattooed crusaders against abortion, and even a pastor in Atlanta named Creflo Dollar who waxes on about "why God wants you to be rich." In clear, compelling prose, Sandler tells of spending the night camping with members of Rock for Life and visiting one of the most militant Christian colleges in America. She narrates with vivid detail the genesis and current status of some of this country's fastest growing and most extremist evangelical youth groups. She also reveals the fascinating stories of the individuals who have found salvation within them-from the ordinary convert to the charismatic leader. With a flair for storytelling and description, Sandler provides a riveting read for anyone interested in generation next. -- Publisher’s Weekly, Starred

With a flair for storytelling and description, Sandler provides a riveting read for anyone interested in generation next. -- Publisher's Weekly, starred

From the Back Cover

Advanced Praise:
"Lauren Sandler obliterates the naïve and complacent hope that keeps most secularists and religious moderates sleeping peacefully each night-the hope that, in 21st century America, the young know better than to adopt the lunatic religious certainties of a prior age. The young do not know better. In their schools, skate-parks, rock concerts, and in the ranks of our nation’s military, our children are gleefully preparing a bright future of ignorance and religious fascism for us all. If you have any doubt that there is a culture war that must be waged and won by secularists in America, read this book."
—Sam Harris, author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation

"It is no easy thing to enter into the world of the young evangelicals, to feel deeply their alienation, to breathe their air and share their electric conviction that they are the rising counterculture against an empty world. Lauren Sandler has done it, and done it with an effervescence and honesty that make her travels in Disciple America jump off the page."
—Todd Gitlin, Professor of Journalism and Sociology, Columbia University, and author of The Intellectuals and the Flag

"At once controversial, critical, blasphemous and compassionate, Righteous offers a compelling journey into a growing youth subculture typically dismissed by urban intellectuals. Sandler has written a provocative and illuminating portrait of young people desperately seeking meaning, community and love in an empty, often terrifying social landscape. Evangelical youth---the Disciple Generation--- are a generation rising, and we do need to pay attention."
—Dr. Donna Gaines, sociologist and author of Teenage Wasteland: Suburbia's Dead End Kids and A Misfit's Manifesto: The Spiritual Journey of a Rock & Roll Heart

"Lauren Sandler has traveled among the believers and returned with a story that alarms, informs, and enlightens. She reveals the rise of a fundamentalist-style youth movement that has replaced faith with closed-minded certainty and is frighteningly cult-like. Read this book and you will understand this Disciple Generation and the challenge it poses to a civil society."
—Michael D'Antonio, former Newsday religion writer and author of Fall From Grace and Heaven on Earth

"Righteous is a lively, probing account of today's fresh, sometimes bizarre sub- cultures of American evangelism. Both the term ‘alternative’ and ‘evangelical’ will mean something new to you after this book. Sandler's conclusions are important: These kids have been forgotten by their original social worlds, by secular organizations and even by Left-Liberal causes. In a cold new world, getting saved can now seem like a young American's only source of community and warmth."
—Alissa Quart, author of Hothouse Kids: The Dilemma of the Gifted Child

"Righteous is the most adroit and fascinating examination of a great national ill, the muddling of faith and politics, the secular and the divine."
—Brad Land, author of Goat

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

68 of 76 people found the following review helpful By J Lee Harshbarger on October 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Judging by the blurbs on the back cover of this book, it is directed toward secularists. Sam Harris, author of "The End Of Faith," says of this book, "Our children are gleefully preparing a bright future of ignorance and religious fascism for us all. If you have any doubt that there is a culture war that must be waged and won by secularists in America, read this book." Kevin Phillips, author of "American Theocracy," describes the book as "a frightening portrait." Michael D'Antonio says, "Read this book and you will understand this Disciple Generation and the challenge it poses to a civil society."

But this book is not written as some call to action, in the way political books are. It is more like an anthropological study, where the author, an editor at Salon magazine, disturbed that George W. Bush won a second term via values voters, wanted to see who these people were, so she decided to hang out with these people and write about her experience. She limited her sample to evangelical youth culture, but within that age group, she found a wide variety of subcultures.

Apparently I'm not the target audience of this book; nevertheless, I found it to be fascinating. I was raised an evangelical and have remained an evangelical all my adult life (I'm now in my mid-forties). My interest in this book was seeing how someone from the outside would view evangelical culture, particularly the more "hip" factions of it, as opposed to the usual stereotypes of the white-dress-shirt, tie-wearing crowd. I get tired of journalists and academics spouting stereotypes about evangelicals that only reveal their ignorance about the culture. I was glad to see someone really take the time to see what these people are about.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Tamara J. Buchli on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I was conflicted by this book. On the one hand, as a pro-choice atheist, I share some of Sandler's concerns -- particularly regarding issues of scientific education and creationism. On the other hand, I wish that Sandler had been able to show a bit more balance in her presentation.

To be specific, I feel she was overly alarmist throughout the book. It's the oldest game in the book -- take a large movement and focus on its most extreme elements, encouraging onlookers to extropolate that extremism throughout the movement. This is an old trick and is played by people across the political spectrum -- just a few weeks ago I listened to radio host Laura Ingraham do the exact same thing in interviews with activists at an anti-war rally -- and it irritates me whoever is playing it.

I also found the book to be maddeningly elitist -- particularly regarding the young women Sandler wrote of. Sandler claimed to have found many of these women to be intelligent and likable, but made it clear that if they really "got it," they would be making different choices -- presumably, Sandler's choices. With the abortion and creationism issues, she might have a point -- creationism, in particular, can be refutted with facts -- but her evident disapproval of stay-at-home mothering can't be explained as anything but elitism, in my opinion.

Sandler is a good writer and had an obvious connection with a number of the people she interviewed. With a little bit of restraint, it could have been a great book. Unfortunately, the elitism and alarmism overwelmed the subject matter.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By A Reader on September 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover
As someone who has zero contact with a movement that is clearly gathering incredible momentum in this country, I raced eagerly through Lauren Sandler's book, grateful for the chance to read a first-hand account from the front lines. I especially appreciated her oft-stated self-description as an "unrepentant Jewish atheist," which served as a good reminder that Sandler was simply offering me her point of view, and not advocating some Absolute Truth. This point of view added texture and complexity to her account, allowing me to disagree with her in some places and agree in (most) others, creating the experience of a very lively conversation with an especially energetic and informed interlocutor. If you, like I, wish you knew more about where our nation is heading, I recommend you read this book.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Jay Young on March 17, 2008
Format: Paperback
Lauren Sandler has written an interesting profile of what she terms the "Disciple Generation"- young adults who are enthusiastic about evangelism, and increasingly conservative politics. They come from many backgrounds, but have one thing in common- they evangelize within their own lifestyles. For example, to reach the teens with a particular lifestyle (i.e., skaters, goths, etc.), evangelizers will simply hold events that appeal to them to get them hooked, then the message will be delivered.

Sandler profiles some key groups in the Disciple Generation. One of the most interesting, or disturbing, is Rock for Life, an anti-abortion rock group that tours and gives concerts. One photo in the book depicts shirtless young men "moshing against abortion" at a Rock for Life concert. Do you think that none of them have a clue what they're doing, and that they haven't studied the issue carefully? Yeah, I'd say that's a pretty safe assumption.

Mars Hill Church in Seattle, headed by the controversial Mark Driscoll, is prominently featured as well. Driscoll appeals to young adults by allowing them to have MTV, video games, etc., while still being theologically conservative. Part of his appeal is to give young adults something "real" in a consumerist world that seems fake. "They know there's more to life than waking up, eating what's in the fridge, watching what's on TVm and then going back to bed, than the rest of their porn-addicted, video-game-playing, loser friends. That's what I give them through the Bible: I say, let me give you some rules, not to be a jerk, but to help you out. And when was the last time anyone in their busted-up family did that?" Many of the Mars Hills members live in community housing, and one of the "rules" of Driscoll's is strict gender roles.
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