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Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses Hardcover – April 11, 2008


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Sex and the Soul: Juggling Sexuality, Spirituality, Romance, and Religion on America's College Campuses + The End of Sex: How Hookup Culture is Leaving a Generation Unhappy, Sexually Unfulfilled, and Confused About Intimacy
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 1 edition (April 11, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195311655
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195311655
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #459,306 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Boston University professor Freitas (also an occasional contributor to PW) explores college students' spiritual and sexual lives in this fascinating, disturbing book. With the exception of evangelical collegians, who are still gunning for marriage and trying to remain chaste until then, almost all of the young people Freitas interviewed were engaged in hookup culture, often exploring their sexuality with near strangers in the hopes of eventually finding someone to date. And with the exception of evangelical students, who allow their religious views to permeate all life choices, including sexual boundaries, most college students don't see much connection between their sexual behavior—which, in candid interviews, they often regret—and their spirituality, which is important to them. Freitas's tone is engaging and her writing persuasive. Of particular interest is her gender analysis of evangelical purity concepts, which expect young women to be chaste but passive as they wait for Prince Charming. Even more disturbing, the theme parties prevalent in hypersexualized hookup culture (in which young women may dress up as whores, maids or schoolgirls while their male counterparts are powerful CEOs, millionaires or professors) also place all the power in the hands of men. Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn. (Apr.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review


"Freitas... has carried out the most extensive empirical research to date of college students' sexual practices, sexual ethics, sexual confusion, and sexual heartache... An unequivocal must-read for church leaders, college and seminary professors, and parents." --Perspectives: A Journal of Reformed Thought


"In Sex and the Soul, Donna Freitas models a lovingly Catholic attention to evangelicals, a surprisingly evangelical attention to Catholics, and a passionate, creative attention to the desires of all college students. Freitas is America's foremost young writer on how religious traditions impact everyday life." --Tom Beaudoin, author of Consuming Faith


"Sex and the Soul is both disturbing and hopeful. Donna Freitas is a skilled and sympathetic interlocutor, and her prescriptions for addressing the 'hookup culture' merit serious consideration." --Randall Balmer, author of Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory: A Journey into the Evangelical Subculture in America


"Relying on exhaustive research and analysis, this unflinching work delivers both a widely comprehensive and deeply intimate portrait of hook-up culture in this formidably spiritual generation, examining its contradictions, broken hearts, and impossible promises like no one has before. Sex and the Soul should be required reading for anyone interested in today's campus culture -- and tomorrow's adulthood." --Lauren Sandler, author of Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement


"How to explain the rise in the 'spiritual but not religious' option among U.S. college students? Might sex have something to do with it? In this provocative book, one of the country's foremost scholars of religion and youth culture answers this question with an emphatic YES! At the heart of this pathbreaking (and heartbreaking) book are the stories of college students 'searching alone' for ways to bring their bodies into conversation with their beliefs. Smart, learned, beautifully written, and above all humane -- this book should jump-start a national conversation on how the sexual revolution has trapped students as much as it has freed them." --Stephen Prothero, author of Religious Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know -- and Doesn't


Named one of the Best Religion Books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly

''Fascinating, disturbing...Freitas's tone is engaging and her writing persuasive...Freitas's work chronicles a poignant spiritual loss that students themselves articulate and mourn.''--Publishers Weekly


"Candid, disturbing, yet ultimately hopeful...Throughout this beautifully written book, Freitas presents students' feelings and experiences in an unflinching yet compassionate way. You care about these young people and their struggles. This book is a great service to students, parents, and those at colleges and universities who want to prepare young adults not just for the workplace but for healthy and fulfilling lives." --Christian Science Monitor


''Fascinating...provocative...Anyone with any interest in mentoring young people should read this book and its recommendations, because there's great hope and wisdom in them.'' --The Weekly Standard


''A wonderful, mind-clearing book...Freitas's book is a boon to anyone who not only cares about our nation's young people, but who has previously learned about this phenomenon only through rumors or anecdotes. Read her book, based on dozens of interviews, for the real scoop.'' --James Martin, SJ, America


''Freitas's book should scare Catholic parents into asking some honest questions early and often.... Freitas has opened those dorm rooms a crack and allowed us to hear how we're doing. We need to listen up.'' --Commonweal


"The level of technicality of the writing is formal but also easily understood. The author descibes her ideas and findings in general yet detailed ways and provide helpful definitions and explanations of terminology." --Hennie Weiss


"Sex and the Soul is s powerful read and excellent...The candid, eye-opening narrative removes the barriers of ignorance and equips individuals to dialogue more openly about spirituality and sexuality." --Christy Rowden


"In general, the book provides a quality read for those interested in how religion intersects with the sexual decision-making of young adults." --BYU Studies Quarterly



More About the Author

Donna Freitas is the author of both fiction and nonfiction. Over the years she has written for national newspapers and magazines, including The Wall Street Journal,The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Newsweek. Donna has been a professor at Boston University in the Department of Religion and also at Hofstra University in their Honors College. She writes children's novels for Scholastic, Harper Collins, and FSG, and she loves it very much! Donna splits her time between Brooklyn, NY and Barcelona, Spain.

Goodreads page: http://www.goodreads.com/donnafreitas
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/donnafreitasofficial

Customer Reviews

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Well researched, well written.
John Conger
We'll always be hung-up about sex, and some of those hang-ups are good protective devices for us.
T-Ro
This is an excellent ( at times appalling - at times hopeful) book.
John Murphy

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

33 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Book Junkie on April 30, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is a carefully researched and elegantly written book on the relationship between sexuality and spirituality on US college campuses. It is pretty well known among scholars that high school kids are quite religious in the US. When they go to college they start turning away from the religions of their parents, often toward more generic spirituality. Why does this happen? Freitas thinks sexual experience might hold the key. In other words, as college students start experimenting sexually they push away from religion, since religion is in their view "anti-sex." That's the argument, or part of it. But at the heart of the book lie stories about these students. Kids at evangelical, Catholic, and secular schools struggling with faith and sexuality. It's brilliantly done. It's sad in many ways to see the binds that "hookup culture" put young people in. It's balanced in that there are things in here that will infuriate (and delight) conservatives and liberals alike. And it's timely. Makes me wonder what the next generation is in for heading off to college.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lima VINE VOICE on December 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
There's been a lot of very good material written in the past couple of years on the detrimental emotional and psychological effects that unrestrained sexual behavior is having on American young adults; primarily college students. Donna Freitas' Sex and the Soul is a worthy addition to that material. The reason the book is as valuable as it is stems from the approach that Freitas took to present the information. As is the case with any scientific study, Freitas provides a factual definition of the issues through the use of raw data gathered through observation (in this case, surveys that she and her staff organized). However, instead of stopping with the data, she gives the study depth by incorporating comments from students on their views regarding sexuality and spirituality. The comments not only put a human face on the issues, they also make what would be a dry study readable. Both the data and the interviews bolster Freitas' conclusion that there is a discontentment with the options of promiscuity and chastity. In order to address this discontentment, Freitas develops practical recommendations for finding the middle ground between spiritual goals and sexual practice.

As I stated earlier, Sex and the Soul is the latest addition to a body of material which persuasively argues that promiscuity as a means to explore one's sexuality is not an emotionally healthy lifestyle. What distinguishes Sex and the Soul from these other books is that Freitas respects the role that both spirituality (in either a religious setting or non-religious setting) and sexuality have in one's life. She takes pains to show that the issue doesn't need to have an "either/or" answer; but, is instead broad enough to allow for one to express sexuality within a religious context. Because of this even-handed approach, Sex and the Soul rises to the top of the list of books that have been written on this subject in the past few years.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful By John Murphy on July 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent ( at times appalling - at times hopeful) book. I don't usually find sociology books that I can't put down, but I read through this one in short order. What the author does quite brilliantly is weave her study of college students and how they integrate faith/religion and sex, around the personal stories of the students that she interviews. If you are a parent (like me) it is disheartening to see the influences that kids come under when they go away to college, and the soul-destroying nature of casual "hook-ups" with people one may or may not know well.

The book is hopeful (to my way of thinking) in that it is almost exclusively the evangelicals (I am one) who believe that there is a connection between spirituality and sex, and that it is important. While it is no surprise that virtually everyone struggles with how far to go physically before marriage, it is nice to see that evangelicals are generally trying to follow what they believe God desires in regards to dating and marriage.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Servage on November 13, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking forward to this read and I must say that on balance it was a bit disappointing. The book is long on narrative and relatively short on theory and analysis. It didn't therefore do a great job of synthesizing the two key foci: students' feelings about sex and love, and their spiritual lives. Some readers may enjoy her vivid accounts of her students' interviews, although in places the author comes off as if she doesn't like her interviewees. She does a good job of outlining distinct campus cultures. The account of what is basically a subculture among students attending evangelical Christian colleges is fascinating. Overall it's not a bad read; it just wasn't as substantive as I'd hoped.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Steve Conn on October 1, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I just received my master's degree in higher education and this book was part of my curriculum. It really sheds a lot of light on the topic of students' views of sexuality, and it looks into how Christians and non Christians view it differently. It written from an interesting perspective. The Author is a nominal Catholic who is certainly not anti-religion, but she does not subscribe to the same views as mainstream evangelical Christians. Good food for thought no matter what you believe.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful By T-Ro on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Freitas gives a very American perspective on a very American dilemma: how to negotiate our cultural hang-ups about sex with "spirituality/religiosity" (the primary reason for our hang-ups about sex). Freitas doesn't share perspectives from non-believers, either because she considered them outliers from her research or there weren't any. She does encounter a lot of kids who consider themselves "spiritual but not religious" -- the cop-out for the institutionally burnt-out. At least one subject she interviews claims not to believe in God but still claims some form of spirituality. Freitas has obviously worked hard on this dissertation and did well in her stats courses, but the larger question is what do surveys on college students' faith and "hookups" matter to American culture? It is natural for a culture to be youth-oriented, since these are the kids that will be next up to make the Big Decisions, and given our Puritanical heritage, sex and religion are all flummoxed. So yes, Freitas's dissertation committee is validated in signing off on this.

Freitas is certainly ideal to take on this sort of work. She's somewhat dismissive of atheists, she's sympathetic to the "spiritual but not religious" crowd, she's a Roman Catholic who questions the authority of the Pope, she's a liberal but possesses a liberal's tolerance for difference: i.e., those nutty evangelicals. Although I'm about as far from the evangelical worldview as you can get, I really appreciated Freitas's ability to resist any temptation to condescend or dismiss their view point. She retails all of their extremist opinions about the eternal deadliness of sexual activity and the "natural" second-class role of females without opionating about it. Far better objectivity than I could ever muster (obviously).
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