Book Club Channel
"Raised Right": A Book Review
Moving to New York, she discovered other evangelicals who felt the same way. She met Democrats whose ideas about their party matched her thoughts about the GOP. None of them were crazy about everything their party stood for. Alisa still stood for pro-life values, as evidenced by her writing for both World and Patrol magazines. But she began to shed light on human suffering issues outside the regular rhetoric surrounding abortion and homosexuality. Her work and her life in New York City also took her deeper into suffering "on the ground instead of in the statistics." Her journalistic work took her to experiences in other parts of the world that leave nightmares in the daytime. Alisa smelled the smells and saw the faces—up close.
Alisa Harris tells her own story and makes no claim to speak for anyone else. But she does. Many young adults, reared in the same spiritual cradle as Alisa, now reassess their religious convictions. Twelve Step groups sprout up and fill quickly to help people get over the restrictive spiritual abuse of fundamentalist Christian upbringings. Other memoirs written alongside Raised Right don't turn out as well. Even Christians as well known as author Philip Yancey talk about escaping the gravitational pull of caustic faith. L'Abri, a spiritual retreat network begun by Francis Schaeffer in the '60s, started out helping people burned out on hallucinogenic drugs and fed up with Tibetan gurus chew on the person of Jesus Christ. Now they draw young adults raised in evangelical youth groups who want to know if God is real. Pundits say that evangelicalism is going away. On the surface, it looks like it. But they're wrong.
Living things grow, growing means change. Recent history teaches us a lot about this. The Jesus Movement of the '60s and early '70s introduced a wave of counter cultural nonconformists, iconoclasts, and college students to Jesus Christ. New forms of the faith sprang up like mushrooms. Some faded, some lingered, some exploded in growth preparing the way for the evangelical rise to empire in which Alisa grew up, and some quietly continue their good work to this day.
Today's younger evangelicals may not show up in evangelical churches; they show little interest in helping pay off church mortgages or paying the lawn fertilizer bill of mega churches. They tend to start new ones like Village Vespers in Greenwich Village. They care more about transformation of lives and justice in the world, and they aren't tied to a need for buildings to do it. Relevant magazine, the Veritas Forum, Shane Claiborne, Tim Challies, the neo-Calvinist resurgence, and the continuing vitality of university and college campus ministry, including new ones like Christian Union, all point to new undergrowth coming up and to new, younger minds chewing on vintage truth. Sometimes the young pups (read 20- and 30-somethings) rally around old dogs like Tim Keller at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York or Charlie Peacock and Andi Ashworth at Art House America.
Alisa Harris shares a vulnerable snapshot of where she is today, and in doing so, leaves a road map to spiritually higher ground for others. Let those of us longer in the tooth faith-wise learn both to listen and to speak her language.
David Swartz pastors Bethel Baptist Church in Roseville, Michigan. He thinks that jazz is sacred music, that books are better company than most people, and that university towns rock. He blogs at geezeronthequad.com.