Raised Right: Read An Excerpt

I hope this book reassures these young Christians that they are not alone as they navigate these difficult waters where the currents of faith and culture collide. I hope it helps them to remember that what our parents taught us about the importance of standing for truth remains valid. Perhaps their understanding of truth was wrong or incomplete. Perhaps their frenzied application of it was fruitless. But we cannot fault their passionate pursuit.

I'm also writing this for people who want to make sense of this strange new breed of Christian. Politicians are fumbling to connect with this growing segment of the population, trying to find what moves them to act. You can see it in Barack Obama's pointed outreach to the young evangelical vote—in the biblically redolent title he picked for his youth outreach, pitched so perfectly to the evangelical soul that a conservative Christian group immediately accused him of stealing it from them. Activist authors like Jim Wallis and Shane Claiborne are trying to recruit young Christians to their causes. Organizers are trying to mobilize them. Journalists are trying to understand them. You can see it in the spate of fawning articles that trot around phrases like "young evangelical" and "broadening evangelical agenda" and "increasing passion for poverty and social justice." So often in these articles and focus groups and books, the ex-culture warriors are presented as experimental subjects or generalized as a group.

But rarely are they given a voice, beyond the punchy sound bite, that explains how they got to where they are today.

Our parents are the ones most earnestly trying to make sense of it all. My own mother is sympathetic but does not understand. She said she never expected to have a child who became Catholic, as my sister has done, nor one who voted Democrat, as I have done. She thinks if that's the worst we ever do, then she has little reason to complain. But still, why the change? I hope this book will help her and others to understand that this change is not a rejection of the core truths they've passed on to us but a different application of them. Our actions and beliefs are an expansion of the principles of justice and love that they imparted, not a rejection of those principles.

This book is not a liberal credo or a political platform; in fact, this book is borne of a struggle to find a faith that transcends credos and platforms. It is a halting, flawed attempt to hew a faith that is more solid and graspable than the slogans I once traced in sand.

9/1/2011 4:00:00 AM