After the violence of 1970 and 1971, so many activists felt uncomfortable and alienated.  Violence went directly against their central thesis, that it was better to make love than war.  Their nonviolent tactics seemed to have no authority over the actions of the police and the National Guard.  In some corners of the Movement, direct action was becoming more violent in response.  Unsure how many more times they could risk their safety and well-being, thousands sought other means of changing the world.  When they found religion, they didn't abandon their goals.  They adopted new strategies.  Still wanting to change the world, they started to believe they could do it through introspection, and a transformation of their inner selves.

Kent reveals all of this fascinating material with empathy and eloquence.  Yet he is a merciless researcher.  In his lengthy conclusions, he offers numerous perceptive observations on the authoritarianism, sexism, and inherent corruption of some of these religions, offering a cautionary note that should draw the attention of today's parents and young people. 

Since I'm just a little bit younger than the 60s generation, by the time I started high school (1976) my peers and I were perfect targets for some of these movements, which are always on the lookout for new adherents.  It occurs to me that it was a good thing that I regarded all religious people with unmitigated scorn.  It may have been an arrogant attitude, but it kept me safe.  After all, we teenagers were still so angry.  Adults still weren't listening to us. 

Are we listening now?  If you want to "Teach Your Children Well," read this book with them, and listen to them.  They are still our best resource for building a better world.

 

Beth Davies-Stofka teaches courses on comparative religion and the philosophy of religion. She has also been an online columnist and critic and contributes regularly to the Patheos site.