Book Review Tom Beaudoins Virtual Faith

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The book’s title, Virtual Faith, is particularly appropriate to the content within. Beaudoin discusses the various ways in which Gen Xers have come to interpret God’s word as symbolic, whether it appears within the context of the formalized church setting or within the expressions and images of pop culture. Symbolic thinking is a natural way of thinking for a generation that, as I suggested, knows that the sacred is always cloaked in cultural forms. This is done through several references both to traditional Biblical stories that appeal particularly to the Gen X generation as well as to the various pop culture icons that have taken on new meanings. While he discusses the various ways in which virtual faith, such as a plaster cast of a footprint supposedly left by Jesus as he ascended from Mount Olive, helps to question and augment real faith, such as the realization that Jesus really did walk on that ground, leaving footprints in the dust, Beaudoin manages to connect the virtual and the real through their shared dependence on symbolism. While the traditional religious system depends upon a specific set of iconographic symbols that have remained more or less the same for centuries, the new religiousness of the Gen Xer, thanks to this recognition of the role of the symbol, is in direct relation to the ever-shifting nature of the new culture.