There’s a new youth movement afoot in this country. It’s a counterculture fusion of politics and pop, and it’s taking over a high school near you. Like the waves that came before it, it’s got passion, music, and anti-authority posturing, but more than anything else, this one has God. So what does it mean when today’s youth counterculture has a mindset more akin to Jerry Falwell’s than Abbie Hoffman’s?
In Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, Lauren Sandler, a dynamic young secular journalist, reports from this junction of Evangelicalism and youth culture, traveling across the country to investigate the alternative Christian explosion.
Using the grassroots modus operandi of the 1960s, these religious kids – part of the “Disciple Generation” as Sandler calls it – turn an antiauthoritarian sneer toward liberalism, feminism, pacifism, and every other hallmark of that era’s counterculture. And they’re engaging their peers with startling success, fusing pop culture, politics, and religion as they preach from the pulpit of the skate park, bar, and rock concert.
Secular, liberal, and practically the embodiment of everything Evangelicalism deems unholy, Sandler travels with skateboard missionaries, hangs out with the tattooed members of a postpunk Seattle megachurch that has evolved into a self-sufficient community, camps out with a rock’n’roll antiabortion group, and gets to know the rap preachers who are merging hip-hop’s love of money with old-fashioned bible-beating fundamentalism. Much more than a mere observer, she connects with these young people on an intimate level, and the candor with which they reveal themselves to her is truly astonishing.