Generations and Religion: Subtle Changes and Unresolved Challenges Professor of Religion and Society, and the director of the Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life at University of California, Santa Barbara. He is a consultant on religion and society issues for PBS, NBC, and Religion and Ethics Newsweekly and writes a column at Beliefnet.com. Dr. Roof received his B.A. in English (magna cum laude) from Wofford College, followed by an M.Div. from Yale University, and then an M.A. and Ph.D., both in sociology, from the University of North Carolina. In addition to his teaching duties at UCSB, he is the principal investigator for a Ford Foundation-funded project on religious pluralism in southern California and recently completed an academic director stint for a U.S. Department of State project, ‘Religion in the United States: Pluralism and Public Presence.’ Among the sixteen books he’s written, edited, co-authored or co-edited, two are particularly relevant for this year’s Smith-Pettit lecture topic on generational spirituality: Spiritual Marketplace: Baby Boomers and the Remaking of American Religion (Princeton University Press, 1999) and Bridging Divided Worlds: Generational Cultures in Congregations He is married to Terry Roof, a writer, educator, grief counselor, and advocate in the California juvenile court system. We all belong to a generation, whether conscious of it or not. Generations are age-based cohorts who share somewhat similar life experiences: They have grown up influenced by common national and international events; their outlook and values were shaped in their formative years by the social environments of which they were and still are a part. Religiously, there is an important impact, and often subtle. Broad social and cultural changes, especially in the role of the media and shifts in work and family patterns, all bear upon how we see ourselves and our understandings of faith, spirituality, God, and social issues important to us. In this presentation, we shall look at four generations-World War II Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers, and Millennials -and profile their differing religious and spiritual views, the challenges each has or has had in making sense of their lives, and their lived expressions of faith. As we shall see, the fundamental question ‘Who Am I?’ turns out to be far more complex that we might have first imagined.
Wade Clark Roof