Virtual Faith: The Irreverent Spiritual Quest of Generation X

Tom Beaudoin, Author, Harvey Cox, Foreword by
Tom Beaudoin, Author, Harvey Cox, Foreword by Jossey-Bass $22 (224p) ISBN 978-0-7879-3882-6
Paperback - 210 pages - 978-0-7879-5527-4
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Proclaiming itself as the first book to focus directly on the religious experience of Generation X, Beaudoin's book is a provocative interpretation of the spiritual side of the popular culture that, he argues, has so deeply informed today's 18- to 34-year-olds. Beaudoin, a lay preacher currently working on a doctorate in religion and education at Boston College, argues that, despite popular conception, Gen-X is strikingly religious. The author gushes a book-length apologia for his generation's unabashed ""irreverent spiritual quest,"" which includes the ""meaning-making system"" of their popular culture, their condemnation of authority and the institutional church and their simulated ""virtual faith."" This is a faith located not in traditional religious institutions but in the simulated material environment of video games and MTV videos. Beaudoin is an energetic writer, but his thinking is often sloppy and, in some cases, absurd--as when he contends that Gen-Xers have undergone Christlike suffering simply by being born into the turbulent era of the 1970s and '80s, into divorced families, into a fearful, fragmented society overhung by the nuclear cloud. Given his lack of perspective, it's easy for him to explain his generation's turn to shocking, unorthodox means to satisfy their spiritual hunger. He decodes the messages of ""Xer theology"" from unlikely sources: the sensual and spiritual imagery in music videos, the marking of pain and ""gift of religious experience"" in body piercings, identification with society's outcasts through ripped jeans. Beaudoin would have us believe that the irreverent, arrogant-unto-death thief on the cross embodies true spirituality, while the repentant thief is weak, hypocritical and outside Jesus'paradise. (June)
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