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.