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Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion. Hardcover – September 22, 1999


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This sociological study tackles the same subject matter (baby boomers and their self-styled spiritual quests) as Roof's 1993 book, A Generation of Seekers. Roof organizes the book almost identically, using the same methodology (a mix of comprehensive surveys and in-depth personal interviews), and even interviewing the same research subjects about their developing spirituality. Yet the second time proves to be the charm, because this book does nearly everything better than its predecessor. Where Generation recognized boomers' predilection for "spirituality" over organized religion, here Roof acknowledges the proliferation of multiple, complex spiritualities (feminist, Latino, ecological, etc.) that often overlap with various established religious traditions and therapeutic movements. Roof's contextualization of boomer spirituality is more historically nuanced. He notes that it is ironic that many boomers are now turning aside from individualistic self-fulfillment strategies, since the boomer generation first empowered the self, not the community, to direct spiritual life. This book shows not only how the 76 million boomers have been shaped by such seeking but how they have remapped the spiritual landscape for all Americans; boomers have shifted attention from the institution to the individual, emphasized "lived religion" (religion in practice) and created a "quest culture." Scholars may quibble with Roof's free use of the marketplace metaphor, with its oversimplified emphasis on supply and demand and the "range of goods and services" now available from an ever-increasing parade of vendors. But even so, Roof's work thoughtfully articulates the introspective fluidity of the baby-boom generation he studies. (Nov.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Kirkus Reviews

Another dose of Baby Boomer religion from Roof (Dept. of Religious Studies/UC-Santa Barbara), once again arguing that boomers are, as the title of one of his earlier books puts it, A Generation of Seekers. The arguments in Roofs latest installment are predictable. Aging American boomers are taking spirituality fairly seriously. Roof has identified several themes in the spiritual lives of boomers: They are more interested in spirituality than religion; they are concerned with the extent to which faith is beneficial or instrumental to them, noting with satisfaction that it helps you or it works; they are relativistic in their religious identity, with the vast majority unable to assert that one religion is any better or more true than another; and many are skeptical of institutional religion. But if boomers feel that churches fail to facilitate their own spiritual development, Roof maintains, they have not gone to the extreme of sitting under a tree navel-gazing alone: Community is very important to boomers, but they find it in small groups rather than synagogues. Boomers see themselves on a spiritual journey; Roof takes issue with the claim that talk about spiritual quest [is] New Age psychobabble, not because he fails to recognize [much of it] as babble, but because . . . that which lies behind it . . . signal[s] something profoundly important about our times. Religions, he claims, will have to adjust to meet the new consumer demands. For Roof, all this is largely to the good. With the new spirituality has come non-hierarchical love for fellow human beings and a more egalitarian and personal God, as well as concern for the environment, with theologians of all stripes working creatively to develop an ecological ethic. Himself a boomer, Roof sometimes embodies, rather than explains, the most flaky and superficial impulses of boomer faith. -- Copyright ©1999, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press; First Edition edition (September 22, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0691016593
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691016597
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,393,061 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By George Bullard on August 31, 2000
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Baby Boomers have hit the empty nest stage of their lives with a bang! For decades marketers and ministers have tried to understand how to reach out to Baby Boomers. With the advent of the empty nest stage of the lives of Boomers where often they function as a sandwich generation between aging parents and their children who are struggling to be adults, another great opportunity has presented itself. Therefore, as one who feels that congregations and parachurch ministries need to include intentional ministry to persons in the empty nest stage of their adult lives, I find this book to be valuable.
This book charts the emergence of five subcultures of Boomers: dogmatists, Born-again Christians, mainstream believers, metaphysical believers and seekers, and secularists. The value of this book is in its ability to provide you with an understanding of these five subcultures that is not based on shallow, pop research, but on in-depth suveys and interviews over a ten-year period.
One of the changes going on in Baby Boomers connections with congregations is that long-term loyal adults are dropping out when they become empty nesters, and those who left during their twenties and have not yet come back to a congregational community are now coming back as empty nesters. However, those who are coming back often find that congregations are not looking for them. They are looking for young adults, single adults, and senior adults.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Thomas C. Innes on August 7, 2000
Format: Hardcover
This book both informed and affirmed something inside me. By calling the book the spiritual marketplace instead of the religious marketplace, the author immediately reveals the issues for a generation raised on modernity, but which nonetheless knows when it is spiritually hungry. It is almosts too simplistic to equate spirituality with inner experience and religion to outward beliefs, but it's good for a starter. The search culture seems to opt for community based on common inner experience rather than on "truth once revealed". A case in point is a cohort of "born again" boomers whose inner experience draws them into fellowship, but whose modern views shock the old guard who still equate spiritual fullfillment with a proper set of beliefs. Roof's findings make me cheer for the human spirit, the compass of which will always point north when distractions are out of the way. By listening to the stories and the data in Roof's book, I feel more hope that we really CAN find our way home.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By C. Trueman on September 25, 2005
Format: Paperback
Written with a 'hands on' approach, Spiritual Marketplace takes the reader on a exploration of what drives America's faith. The classic Catholic & Protestant models no longer seem to be working the way the used to. And yet Americans continue to identify with some sort of faith. The latest trend of describing oneself as 'spiritual not religious' is reflected in a market which prusues and explores alternatives to traditions that no longer seem to fit today's lifestyle. Roof offers great insights. The book keeps the reader engrossed and curious. Definitely worth the investment.
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