What do they talk about in the men’s locker room at your health club? Baseball, for sure. And tennis. And home repair. But spirituality?

Last spring, it happened to Jerry Manlove, a rancher from South Dakota. He told the fellow at the next locker that he was going to a retreat on the spirituality of Thomas Merton. Suddenly, two other men in the locker room—both lawyers—spoke up. They were reading books on spirituality. One of them was on his thirteenth Merton volume.

Manlove shared that experience with associate editor Timothy Jones at the Merton retreat he attended. This reinforced Tim’s belief that there is a tidal wave of interest in spirituality in our culture. Thus his report in this issue (“Great Awakenings,” beginning on p. 22), as well a related essay by Eugene Peterson and an editorial by Alister McGrath.

Tim described Manlove as “middle-aged.” We hope he won’t be offended. (We, too, are middle-aged. But we are not yet ready to grow gently into that great paunch.)

In any case, Tim’s description triggered a thought: Midlife is a time of spiritual reflection and personal reassessment. Careers plateau, and (in the best cases) people look for meaning in relationships and spiritual pursuits. Thus the prominence of spirituality publishing today.

Bookselling follows baby boomers’ interests, and baby boomers are passing the midlife milestones. After helping us rediscover childrearing and nostalgia for the 1950s, it is now helping us focus on the spiritual. Nevertheless, after a visit to a local bookstore, I wondered: What is happening with a generation that is switching from swimsuit to angel calendars?

DAVID NEFF, Executive Editor

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