Hippies of the Religious Right: From the Counterculture of Jerry Garcia to the Subculture of Jerry Falwell

Preston Shires, Author
Preston Shires, Author . Baylor Univ. $29.95 (242p) ISBN 978-1-932792-57-7
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Shires, who teaches history at a community college in Nebraska, contends that a surprising number of teens and young adults who participated in the 1960s counterculture eventually made their way to the "robust evangelical movement" of the 1970s and 1980s. The counterculture itself fostered an interest in spirituality, and the charismatic renewal offered youth a way to rebel against their parents' mainline Christianity. Shires's most innovative claim is that the counterculture actually led to the development of the religious right. While so-called "Jesus Freaks" and other countercultural Christians were primarily on a spiritual, not political, quest, the organic, integrated life they sought led them to apply their faith to politics. Shires concludes with a prediction: the next decades may see the rise of a more politically moderate evangelicalism, as a younger generation, concerned with inclusion and caring for the poor, matures. If Shires does not make an airtight case, his argument is certainly intriguing. Although the book is marred by occasional clunky academic prose and overuse of the passive voice ("This has been the argument"), Shires makes a real contribution to the nation's current discussions about evangelicals and political activism. (Apr.)

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