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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Young adults revealed with truth and depth!
Colleen Carroll has done an incredible job of describing why and how some young adults in our culture have thrown aside the liberated views passed down by the baby-boomers and have chosen a life-style of commitment, mystery and faith. Through powerful personal stories, the reader discovers that this counter-cultural lifestyle is more than a sociological trend or backlash...
Published on November 10, 2002

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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Journalism But Unconvincing
I would have loved to write an entirely positive review for this book. I certainly respect the author and believe her thesis. There are many positives to the work put into the book, as well as to the publication of the book itself.
However, I found the book to be a largely anecdotal effort. While certainly meeting (modern) journalistic standards, I remain...
Published on September 10, 2003 by Arthem


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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Young adults revealed with truth and depth!, November 10, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
Colleen Carroll has done an incredible job of describing why and how some young adults in our culture have thrown aside the liberated views passed down by the baby-boomers and have chosen a life-style of commitment, mystery and faith. Through powerful personal stories, the reader discovers that this counter-cultural lifestyle is more than a sociological trend or backlash of divorce and materialism. Instead, for the young adults spotlighted, their choices actually balance the extremes of the ultra restriction and conformity of the Fifties and the reckless and relative views of the Sixties and Seventies. We can see, on a very intimate level, how Generation X-ers have sought and found meaning and depth in their lives through authentically living out orthodox Christian faith. Personally, this book has helped me understand why I, as a young adult, think and act as I do--very insightful.
"The New Faithful" is an inspiring account of a small, yet powerful portion of our society. Carroll has the wisdom, experience and superb writing ability to convey precisely what is going on in the heart of our generation. A must-read for any young adult--faith-filled or not--and anyone hoping to understand them better.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, Distressing, Depressing . . . Delightful!, December 15, 2002
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This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
Colleen Carroll's thesis is simple: "[T]he future of orthodoxy [that is, traditional, customary, established religious belief and practice] in America looks bright" (p. 265). Young adults, she says, are increasingly turning (or returning) to the faith--Greek or Russian Orthodox, Evangelical Christian, or Roman Catholic--in which they were born (between 1965 and 1983). They are unfulfilled by or even angry at the vacuous and hollow ideologies of secularism, materialism, hedonism, and relativism which exalt the self or proclaim, as do nihilists, that there is nothing of worth or of everlasting meaning. Ms. Carroll is particularly incisive in her examination of Catholicism, which lost a generation of young adults to incompetent and even cowardly catechesis, to religious (priests and nuns) sometimes concerned more about politics than souls, and to widespread disaffection with orthodox Church teaching and corresponding self-deification. In a society plagued by rampant divorce (p. 123), by media corruption (especially movies and TV [pp. 249, 257], and by a soulless spirituality which offers only jejune sentiment to people instead of the sacramental realities of established religion (pp. 4-6), young adults are turning, she says, to Christ as the center of their lives. But this Christ is not a "superstar"; rather, He is the Savior Who expects total commitment of heart, mind, and soul (Mt. 22:34-40). And this devotion, she says, is what yong adults desire--not balloons; not flowers; not silly church music (as opposed to the classic hymns and chants); not liturgical improvisation; not a demand for women priests, or for nuns in mini-skirts, or for priests who preach a feckless gospel of worldly values (p. 281). Ironically, Archbishop Sheen had it exactly right in a 1949 book, PEACE OF SOUL: "Unless souls are saved, nothing is saved; there can be no world peace unless there is soul peace." Thus come back the timeless devotions of Eucharistic Adoration, the rosary, the stations of the cross, benediction--and, of course, the Mass, Sacred Scripture, Sacred Teaching, and Sacred Tradition. Young adults seek out, and matriculate at, serious Catholic and Evangelical colleges and attempt to reform from within the apostate colleges (pp. 179, 184) which have at least partly lost their reason for being. Despite countertrends, there is increasing concern about natural law (p. 171), about genuine ecumenicism between Evangelicals and Catholics Together (p. 275), and about commitment to Christ. One of her main points is that "there is a positive future for the Catholic Church in particular" (p. 284). All this is disturbing, distressing, and depressing for liberal Protestants and Catholics intent upon "progress" without Authority, without Mystery, without Miracle, and for media intent upon echoing the timeless and mocking question of the nihilists: "What is 'Truth'?" But this book is delightful for orthodox Christians who believe that Christ is, as Pope John Paul II expressed it, "the answer to the question mark that is every human life." Warmly recommended!
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38 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Faith AND Works, Not Either/Or, September 12, 2004
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
May I add input from someone even older than the "Boomer Generation," not to mention the "Gen-Xers" about whom this book is written?

Having finished Colleen Carroll's excellent book, I'd like to persuade some of her less enthusiastic readers to more deeply investigate what I believe to be a false dichotomy between faith and works. That false dichotomy is not new.

I grew up during the '40's and '50's, a product of excellent, pre-Vatican II Catholic (Loretto) teaching -- and orthodox sermons -- followed by public school, then a non-sectarian private high school and non-sectarian university.

Upon graduation from college, I spent the better part of 3 years working out of a Catholic Church/School on the grounds of a nationally-known public housing project. You might be surprised to learn I was inspired to this work by my pre-Vatican II Catholic education.

It was the mid-sixties, a time of tremendous turmoil and opportunity. Those of us who were involved in the Civil Rights movement were tempted to see ourselves as holding the moral high ground. And some of the group lost sight of the kinds of personal devotions and reflections that had been our original inspiration.

As a result, some grievous personal decisions were made, many with lifelong reverberations. Priests betrayed their ordination vows, nuns left their orders, marriages broke up, liasons were made that were unhealthy. Not everyone went off the rails, but we all knew many who did.

Orthodoxy, personal morality and devotions were trashed, as were reputations of those considered "conservative," all because we saw "social justice" as morally superior and sufficient. We would have been the first to "skip Adoration in favor of attending a rally for affordable housing".

So, to those of you who see yourselves as "liberal," I would say, learn from our mistakes. We didn't know it in the '60's, but we were living off of spiritual capital.

Today, the church and the culture in the United States are in trouble. We are surrounded by divorce, abandonment, sexual confusion, fear of commitment. Many who call themselves followers of Christ support the killing of unborn children.

These are all lapses of "personal morality" and they all took root because too many of us were looking ONLY at social justice issues.

Colleen Carroll is one of your generation who has come to understand why and how something went very wrong decades ago. She has seen the fallout and she knows we have to have both straight teaching (orthodoxy) AND social justice. No either/or.

If you'd like to read more of Colleen's writing, see Our Sunday Visitor, where she has just signed on as a biweekly columnist (Into the Deep).

And if you'd like to see what this reviewer is doing these days, go to <[...]
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Conversion stories that will move you, January 21, 2003
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This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
As a Catholic university student just at the tail-end of Carroll's time span of research, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The stories contained inside are moving and truly show a diversity in why and how this generation came to discover Christian orthodoxy.
At first glance, I thought it was a bit too biased towards Catholicism (as another reviewer has pointed out), but I can hardly argue with the accolades given this book by such high-profile Protestants as Chuck Colson. Still, the book could have been stronger if the author had either soley concentrated on Catholicism or balanced the research with more stories from Protestants.
While the stories are clearly the focal point of the book, I found that Carroll tends at times to oversimplify things. As a collection of stories, the book is fantastic, but it doesn't really go very far beyond that to give readers a well-thought out reason for this trend, or predictions for the future. Where the insight is there (as it is with the section detailing orthodoxy in Hollywood), it is very good, but where it is absent, the book is lacking. In addition, while her research is very strong, it can be somewhat distracting to read portions of some of the same conversion stories at several different parts of the (topically organized) book. Just a few more interviews could have easily prevented this repetition.
Aside from these points, the book is a very good read. The author writes very well, and it is very easy to read. I definitely recommend it because you will either identify with or be moved by those whose stories are told, or it will give you new perspective on where your friends who have decided to shun popular culture and take on Christian orthodoxy are coming from.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth Emerges, January 2, 2003
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
The older generation of "free sex," drugs, and rock and roll has left a horrific legacy to the youth of today which includes family breakdown and widespread divorce, the normalization of what used to be called "shacking up," the loss of any semblance of dignity and modesty in dress or behavior, the curse of drug addiction, and widespread cultural mediocrity in music, literature, and art. The good news is that from all this unnecessary suffering and cultural mediocrity a significant portion of the new generation is turning to traditional religious faith as a way of embracing an abundant and meaningful life. Colleen Carroll documents this welcome trend with statistics, interviews, and her own observations. Her work illustrates an ironic turn of events in which the aging rebels of liberalism decry the orthodoxy of the young. But in truth the aging sixties liberals were never really rebels: they were just succumbing to the age-old decadence of the privileged. The true rebels in any era are those who reject the dehumanizing use of sexuality and other forms of addictive behavior to pursue selfish gratification. The young people surveyed in this book have suffered the consequences of these destructive choices and have had enough sense to come out of the rain. The author's dedication to documenting this immense story of courage and renewal has resulted in an inspiring parable of faith well worth reading.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars finally a book that tells our story, September 10, 2004
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
I'm a young adult and a leader in youth ministry and I've been noticing major changes in the way my generation relates to God and the church. Finally I found a book that tells our story! The boomers don't understand this movement because it's totally different from their experience. But Colleen Carroll does understand it and she tells this story in the best possible way, by interviewing and quoting the people who are living it.

These "new faithful" are young adults like me who are genuinely searching for God and tired of accepting all of the junk our culture offers us as a substitute. The strong evidence in this book is proof of something that more and more of us who work in youth ministry are seeing for ourselves.

There is a movement toward Christian orthodoxy in the next generation and it is real and lasting. I've seen it with my own eyes. Even the media is starting to notice it. This movement is growing. You should find out more about it, because these new faithful may be coming soon to a city (and church) near you.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Journalism But Unconvincing, September 10, 2003
By 
Arthem "arthem" (Knoxville, TN USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
I would have loved to write an entirely positive review for this book. I certainly respect the author and believe her thesis. There are many positives to the work put into the book, as well as to the publication of the book itself.
However, I found the book to be a largely anecdotal effort. While certainly meeting (modern) journalistic standards, I remain unconvinced that America is really seeing a significant trend of permanent orthodoxy among the Gen X'ers (among whom I am counted).
I want to believe Carroll, and much of her argument agrees with my own experience. Still, it reminds me of a Neil Peart quote: "My precious sense of rightness is sometimes so naive, that that which I imagine is that which I believe."
I didn't find the book to be a particularly engaging read. The content seems repetitious and the same points are made in identical manners in several different places in the book. We are reintroduced to the same sources in different contexts. I certainly can't say that the book was not well written, but it seemed disjointed.
In any case, the author has much more experience with a diverse population than I do, and her argument is very encouraging. Hope springs eternal, and I'll join her in praying that the tide has turned against secularism.
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21 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's about time!, October 29, 2002
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This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
The truth is that hundreds of America's brightest 20- and 30-something men and women are passionately orthodox Christians. They go to Ivy League schools, make millions, write, think. But the middle-aged types (producers, professors, Howell Raines) hollering loudest into the media microphone deny it.
At my self-consciously elite university, being a serious Christian felt like belonging to an anarchists' circle or communist cell. I met other believers one by one, and slowly learned that there were schools and clubs, whole new communities of friars and nuns, journals like First Things -- loads of smart people actually thinking about God. Why had I never heard anything about any of this before?
Colleen Carroll gets real about what's going on in America, and her honesty is refreshing. This book is first-rate journalism, balanced and deliberate. She choses her subjects well, and their stories are often moving. Bet the best part about the book is the glee you'll feel at how our generation is violating all the posted rules of the hippie establishment. Marlo Thomas is wearing supphose, but Thomas Aquinas never grows old.
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24 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Significant Strengths; Significant Weaknesses, June 5, 2005
This book by an insightful young Catholic American is mainly about a new, largely Catholic traditionalism she sees emerging among what her compatriots call Generation X - or those born since 1965 or thereabouts. A real mixture of elements is on offer here.

To begin with the positive, I am moved by Carroll's accounts of the young discovering the Sacraments. As a Catholic convert myself, it often feels the Sacraments amount to the `Church's best kept secret'. Certainly there are vast theological tracts pertaining to Christ's active presence in communion and confession, particularly.

What is more rare however, are accounts of how people actually *experience* these. This, it seems to me, is a neglected avenue the Church needs to take up: attention not only to tradition, but also to a *phenomenology* of the sacraments.

Hence, my joy in finding Carroll writing about students finding `the peace, the freedom, the supernatural sense' of the sacraments allowing them `to be cleansed, healed and strengthened.'

I know exactly what she means. It is the *joy* of my life ...

I also find much of Carroll's lively, perceptive reportage convincing. Some have argued her approach is too anecdotal - relying on isolated, personal accounts of religious conversion that obviously exist during any epoch, but do not necessarily add up to a trend in *this* one

Though Carroll is not entirely immune to this charge, there is more on offer here. Some fascinating statistics are collected. Moreover, there are numerous accounts, not of youthful individual experience - but rather from the witness of older educators and church leaders, who are observing the young en masse.

Such reports suggest: something is indeed up. Carroll has taken on a difficult task. It's hard to substantiate anything as nebulous as what she claims is happening. In the end, only time will tell. But I suspect the next decade or two will show Carroll as a prophet of sorts.

Yet regretfully, I find other problems with Carroll's book. I find a certain muddledness concerning the phenomenon she attempts to describe.

On the one hand, she continually talks about `the New Faithful' as something *novel* - that is belonging to Generation X. Thus, if what Carroll describes is new, it must be differentiated from the American Christian Right, which arose in the 70's.

And because her book is largely focussed on Catholics, it does sound different. She speaks of young adults `craving mystery', `weighty tradition' and the Sacraments - all of which has a different flavour, at least, to evangelical Christianity.

On the other hand, much of what Carroll lumps in with her `New Faithful' sounds exactly like the Religious Right. Some of her sources are clearly identified with it, as she admits.

Moreover, if she really is talking about something different and new here, why does she keep bolstering her argument by appealing to trends that are hardly new at all, but clearly related to the emergence of the Christian Right? For example, that of many American megachurches, which arguably have more to do with manipulative niche marketing, than people aching for the Catholic Mystery.

Again, none of the emergence of this kind of Christianity is new. Such phenomena has been on the rise since the late seventies. To understand this, I would highly recommend a 1991 secular denunciation: Kepel's The Revenge of God (which I've also reviewed at Amazon). Although Kepel's is a secular book I strongly disagree with, it has the same muddledness as Carroll's, in that it lumps all resurgent religion into the same bag.

This is a dangerous mistake, I think. A difference needs to be established between what I might call religious fundamentalism and a true traditionalism. Fundamentalism focuses on literalism and single-issue ethics - premarital sex, abortion and so forth. A genuine traditionalism is different. John Paul II - a figure Carroll clearly admires - is clearly a traditionalist. "Fidelity to roots" John Paul said, is not "a mechanical copying of the past. Fidelity to roots is always creative."

Thus, John Paul stood for fidelity to the Church's tradition. But he was neither a literalist, nor of a static persuasion. But John Paul's teaching does hark back to the Great Fathers of the Church, who understood that doctrine could both be lovingly revered AND developed - at the same time.

The tradition is not static. And although John Paul felt the horrors involved in sexual license, his ethics were overarching and lacked the more limited focus of many fundamentalists.

My point in all this, is that Carroll - like Kepler - has fundamentalism and traditionalism mixed up.

More of this became clear to me, when I learned from her website that she has worked as a speechwriter for George Bush, and obviously admires him.

Yet nearly everything Bush stands for flies against the Catholic tradition of the last 119 years.

A Catholic tradition that has championed labour unions and decried capitalism and consumerism, a tradition that has insisted that the state must do more, not less, to protect the poor and sick, that our modern economics lead to soullessness, that the death penalty and treating the worker as a mean, not an end, is incompatible with Catholicism, and so much more.

For some of the connexions made in Carroll's otherwise fascinating and insightful book, John Paul, I suspect, would be weeping in his holy grave ...

Note: a longer, extended review of this book is available at my site Cor Jesu Sacratissimum. Address above.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Encouraging Report on Gen X Spirituality, April 1, 2003
This review is from: The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Hardcover)
More often than not, reports on the Christian faith of Generation X are negative, citing trends of tolerance and pluralism for low commitment to church membership or religious understanding. Believers who understand that God has no grandchildren may wonder if the winds of faith seen in isolated areas will dissipate into the doldrums of apostasy reported in and encouraged by prominent media outlets. Journalist Colleen Carroll doesn't believe it will happen.
"With conservative churches attracting committed Christians, liberal churches hemorrhaging members, and young believers working overtime to spread their faith, the future of orthodoxy in America looks bright," she writes, concluding her 294-page report on people within her generation who have dedicated themselves to the teaching of Jesus Christ. This optimistic book, heartily recommended by Charles Colson and Nigel Cameron among others, records dozens of stories of young Catholics and evangelicals who define themselves by God's unchanging truth, not their careers or their politics. They are interested in meaningful traditions which shun the world and the trappings of consumerism. That's why students at Harvard and University of Chicago start their own Bible studies, and then ask certain teachers to lead them. That's why medical students from St. Louis gather to discuss how God's call to be a doctor or nurse changes the way they will practice medicine.
Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft is quoted, saying that these students are rejecting "the old, tired, liberal, modern" mindset in favor of a more orthodox one. "Even though they know less history or literature or logic" than students ten or twenty years ago, Kreeft said, "they're more aware that they've been cheated and they need more. They don't know that what they're craving is the Holy Spirit."
That should be encouraging to some of us, who may be wondering if Generation X can hear the true message of the gospel through a rattling of tolerance. Carroll writes that many young professionals have obtained a high level of wealth much earlier than their parents and consequently realize that material success doesn't foster personal contentment or joy. So the Spirit of God draws them into faith communities where Biblical truths are taught clearly and accompanied by opportunities to practice them. And some reach out to their peers.
Simon Baker, a banker in San Francisco, holds informal parties for his Silicon Valley associates where a prominent Christian thinker, like Os Guinness or David Aikman, discusses or debates Christian ideas with the guests. He was nervous at first, because liberal distrust of Christianity and natural self-reliance dominates his city; but his parties have been well-received. Baker, who came to the Lord during the financial success of the 90s, hopes the recent economic decline will inspire his colleagues to reconsider the purpose of living.
Carroll believes the reason stories like these are not reported on by most journalists is that they don't understand why a younger generation would react to the doctrines of liberalism by returning to long-standing traditions. Though trained to look for emerging trends in society, liberal reporters don't view a return to timeless truths or an embracing of orthodox Christianity as progress. They may see it as the very repression they broke from in the 60s returning to repress a new generation. That's why Carroll wrote this encouraging account of the people she calls, "The New Faithful." Despite the reports or lack of reports in our newspapers on the spiritual interests of young adults, there are many stories of hope to tell.
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The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy
The New Faithful: Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy by Colleen Carroll (Hardcover - September 1, 2002)
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