Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today

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Books by Don Lattin

Don Lattin is one of the most experienced and savvy observers of contemporary religion, having astutely covered modern spiritual mores for the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Francisco Examiner for two decades. His latest book is a worthwhile, thought-provoking work, despite its failure to deliver in one important respect. The book is divided into four parts. Its chapters examine the Esalen Institute, the highly influential human potential center on the coast of Central California; a group of men ordained as Catholic priests in only five of 15 were still priests 20 years later ; and the Course in Miracles phenomenon.

The book contains much terrific reporting, captivating storytelling, and enjoyable reading. But after a few chapters, you notice that while Lattin is in the milieu on which he is reporting, he seems not to be of it. Obliged by his responsibilities as a journalist to remain at some distance from his subjects, he doesn't evince much empathy for their motivations or all-too-human frailties.

But the larger disappointment is that Lattin never really delivers on the promise of his subtitle. He rightly points out that the '60s are too easily maligned but doesn't show how the values articulated and championed in that tumultuous, idealistic era still animate contemporary life. He does note that the sexual-liberation movement led to among other things the ordination of women, but overall there is a sense that all the exploration and barrier-busting of the '60s amounted to little in the way of enduring importance.

For example, in his too-brief concluding chapter, he writes that yoga has become "a lifestyle choice, more like going to the gym than to the ashram. Indeed, as Lattin finally observes, "Now, more than ever, we need to remember that 'the Sixties' was about keeping hope in the world and faith in ourselves.

Poses by Anatomy. Poses by Level. The Yoga for You. Types of Poses. So enjoy reading this if you want a good understanding further than the Harvard club of how members go on during that period, but his vision is pretty myopic: Ken Kesey, very cursory information about communes, Ram Das, and Richard Alpert, as well as antics they all get involved with.

This could have been a milestone book on how Joseph Campbell's follow your bliss comment got blown into serious narcissism that our society is now believing is spiritual; its not at all what Joseph said, but what we want to believe. I am still not finished with this, but find it does not mesh up with the research work and time I have spent on "New Thought".


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This falls pretty short. There are plenty of bright spots, anecdotes, and observations in this book that make it an extremely worthwhile read for anyone interested in how religion in American public life changes during this period. It could stand by itself as a very perceptive essay in the likes of Harper's or the Atlantic.

Other bright spots were the origins of Esalen, the turmoil of the Catholic Church and the narratives of those who grew up in communes. These chapters were insightful and touching. The book was originally published in so has about 13 years of catching up to do. Also, many of the socially progressive goals that were rooted in the s have become increasingly more established rights of minorities, reproductive health, marriage rights, etc.

Books: Exploring the spiritual legacy of the '60s

The story he traces, though, is not over. Jan 21, Liam rated it really liked it. It is not just a matter of how he preached or changed, but how he moved, held his hands, handled the censer. What choice did he make among the vestments. I really really liked the book. Learned tons. Liked what the Author had to say.

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It was a wonderful read. Definitely will reread this book in the future and probably many times.

Following Our Bliss: How the Spiritual Ideals of the Sixties Shape Our Lives Today

I am obsessed with anything that has to do with the 60's, 70's subculture and that whole era. Nov 30, Keets rated it really liked it. Lattin takes an interesting look at many of the spiritual and cultural aspects of the s and looks at their legacies over time. Super interesting read.

View all 4 comments. Katy rated it really liked it Jun 21, Grace Galie rated it liked it Jan 17, Tina Schermer-Sellers rated it liked it Mar 07, Melody Richardson rated it really liked it Dec 16, Emily rated it it was amazing Oct 10, Colleen rated it it was amazing Nov 09, Ron rated it really liked it Mar 20, Carolyn Severance rated it liked it Jan 01, Kevin rated it liked it Feb 09, Ultra Red rated it it was amazing Apr 29, Paul Lenda rated it liked it Feb 27, Mandy Lyons rated it liked it Aug 12, Thomas Van Duyne rated it really liked it Apr 18, Kathleen Kosiec rated it really liked it Sep 29, Emily Crow rated it liked it Aug 16, Susan rated it liked it Jun 23, Christina rated it it was amazing Nov 21, Mel rated it really liked it Mar 11, It even reached my small Arizona town, where I tried to wear a black armband to school to protest the Vietnam War.

My mother made me take it off before the bus came.


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  • Mom did let me buy a peace sign pin that I wore frequently. I still have it. In his book Following our Bliss , longtime San Francisco Chronicle religion reporter Don Lattin draws from his years of experience as an observer of spiritual ferment in the highly charged California religious climate.