The Sixties Spiritual Awakening

Robert S. Ellwood, Author
Robert S. Ellwood, Author Rutgers University Press $24.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-8135-2093-3
Hardcover - 369 pages - 978-0-7881-6295-4
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This book is breathtaking in its scope. Carrying readers on a magical tour of religious expression from the civil rights movement and Vatican II to Woodstock and Death-of-God theology, Ellwood traces the centrality of religion in the American '60s from the stability of its institutional expression in the early years of the decade to the fragmentation of organized religion and the advent of countercultural spirituality. Each chapter explores the ways in which the objective authority of organized religion was increasingly displaced by the subjective experience of the new spirituality. A helpful feature of each chapter is a discussion of books of the time that had significant cultural and religious impact. A major weakness, however, is the book's lack of attention to the music and film of the period. (While the songs of the Beatles, the Byrds and Bob Dylan, among others, expressed a deep spirituality, films like Mike Nichols's The Graduate pointed to the bankruptcy of traditional expressions of religion, etc.) Even so, Ellwood's account of the religious character of the '60s is a story grippingly and passionately told. (July)
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