FROM ANGELS TO ALIENS: Teenagers, the Media, and the Supernatural

Lynn Schofield Clark, Author . Oxford $29.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-19-515609-6

What Wade Clark Roof did for understanding Baby Boomer spirituality with A Generation of Seekers, Clark does with this insightful, well-written ethnographic introduction to the spiritual lives of a new generation. Clark relies heavily on interviews and first-person reports from teens, then attempts to understand what they are saying through the lens of larger demographic and sociological trends. Many teens (by which Clark means those roughly between the ages of 11 and 21) privilege personal experience over institutional authority and consider themselves spiritual but not necessarily religious. Their spirituality is eclectic and often non-traditional, as they blend elements from the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition with new interest in mysticism, Eastern religions and the occult. Clark, a professor at the University of Colorado's School of Journalism, is very attuned to the significance of media in teens' lives, and offers fascinating explorations into what television programs like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have to say about religion. Most interestingly, Clark also pays attention to the resurgence of "the dark side of evangelicalism," discussing the rise of popular interest in the apocalypse. One later chapter explores the ways some baby boomer parents "intentionally approach the media" and use it to discuss spiritual issues with their children. Clark's writing is engaging and fast-paced, and readers who aren't put off by the book's reliance on social theorists like Bourdieu and Gramsci will find this a surprisingly accessible book. (May)

Reviewed on: 04/28/2003
Release date: 02/01/2003
Paperback - 292 pages - 978-0-19-530023-9
Show other formats
The Best Books, Emailed Every Week
Tip Sheet!