Aging American boomers are taking spirituality fairly seriously. But if boomers feel that churches fail to facilitate their own spiritual development, Roof maintains, they have not gone to the extreme of sitting under a tree navel-gazing alone: Community is very important to boomers, but they find it in small groups rather than synagogues.
Are Churches Reaching Out to Older People?
For Roof, all this is largely to the good. With the new spirituality has come non-hierarchical love for fellow human beings and a more egalitarian and personal God, as well as concern for the environment, with theologians of all stripes working creatively to develop an ecological ethic. Himself a boomer, Roof sometimes embodies, rather than explains, the most flaky and superficial impulses of boomer faith.
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Roof, Wade Clark [WorldCat Identities]
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Download all figures. In large chain bookstores the "religion" section is gone and in its place is an expanding number of topics including angels, Sufism, journey, recovery, meditation, magic, inspiration, Judaica, astrology, gurus, Bible, prophesy, evangelicalism, Mary, Buddhism, Catholicism, and esoterica. As Wade Clark Roof notes, such changes over the last two decades reflect a shift away from religion as traditionally understood to more diverse and creative approaches.
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But what does this splintering of the religious perspective say about Americans? Have we become more interested in spiritual concerns or have we become lost among trends? Do we value personal spirituality over traditional religion and no longer see ourselves united in a larger community of faith?
Roof first credited this religious diversity to the baby boomers in his bestselling A Generation of Seekers He returns to interview many of these people, now in mid-life, to reveal a generation with a unique set of spiritual values--a generation that has altered our historic interpretations of religious beliefs, practices, and symbols, and perhaps even our understanding of the sacred itself. The quest culture created by the baby boomers has generated a "marketplace" of new spiritual beliefs and practices and of revisited traditions.
As Roof shows, some Americans are exploring faiths and spiritual disciplines for the first time; others are rediscovering their lost traditions; others are drawn to small groups and alternative communities; and still others create their own mix of values and metaphysical beliefs.