Filtered Fringe by Ryan T. Anderson

Filtered Fringe

Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement
by Lauren Sandler
Viking, 2006
(272 pages, $24.95, hardcover)

reviewed by Ryan T. Anderson

Depressed by the re-election of George W. Bush—which, she says, “knocked the air from my lungs and the hope from my heart”—Lauren Sandler set out across the country to discover exactly who the “values voters” were, particularly the young ones.

Socially liberal, ethnically Jewish, and theologically atheistic, Sandler—a fellow at New York University’s Cultural Reporting and Criticism program who previously worked as a producer of cultural segments for National Public Radio and as the Life Editor of Salon—had the advantage of an outsider’s perspective. Or so she hoped.

Her results, offered in Righteous: Dispatches from the Evangelical Youth Movement, are provocative. The “Disciple Generation,” her name for Christians aged 15 to 35, have rebelled not only against their parents but against everything secular as well. How? By appropriating the trappings of popular culture but saturating them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tattoos & Suits

This results in tattooed, skateboarding Jesus freaks; rapping, prosperity-gospel-preaching fundamentalists; and grunge, Rock-for-Life anti-abortion groupies—alongside three-piece-suit-wearing collegians; Bible-carrying Capitol Hill staffers; and frappuccino-sipping, mega-church-attending suburbanites. In other words, for every secular walk of life, there is the Disciple Generation equivalent, breathing in the same cultural air but exhaling the name of Jesus.

Sandler offers many amusing, sometimes disturbing, vignettes from her journeys with the “Disciples.” Reporting from a skateboarding festival, she tells of pro skater Josh Casper, who became a Christian after “depression set in” when his father passed away. He tells the crowd during a break in the skating: “It’s all about God. That’s what I’m skating for. That’s what I’m living for.”

For the skater who is often a cultural outcast, Josh’s message offers “hope, connection, and community all mixed with cool,” Sandler argues. “This is how they got these kids to buy into religion, by delivering something larger than themselves, their troubles at home, and their adolescent pain.”

But with the religion comes the politics, and the t-shirts Sandler sees at Rock for Life, Stand True, and Cornerstone events speak volumes to her. She describes “a black shirt with an image of the American flag, only a white swastika replaces its fifty stars. Under the flag, his shirt says WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE DON’T VOTE. . . . Beside it another is printed with the words PERSONHOOD REDEFINED: DRED SCOTT, THE NAZI PARTY, ROE VS. WADE.”

At first, she thinks these are a “nice reminder of the importance of participatory democracy.” But later she concludes, “ I’m what happens when they don’t vote. To these dissidents professing Christ’s love, I’m a Nazi in the abortion holocaust.”


Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on Book Review from the online archives


more from the online archives

22.6—July/August 2009

Unhappy Fault

on the Integration of Anger into the Virtuous Life by Leon J. Podles

6.1—Winter 1993

Civilization Without Religion?

by Russell Kirk

29.4—July/August 2016

Naked Truth

on Noticing That Modern Science Has Rendered Atheism Irrational by Harry Biltz

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00