By Kenda Creasy Dean
In keeping with the nationwide learn of teenybopper and Religion--the similar beneficial info as its predecessor, Soul looking: The spiritual and religious Lives of yank Teenagers--Kenda Creasy Dean's compelling new booklet, Almost Christian, investigates why American children are instantly so optimistic approximately Christianity and even as so apathetic approximately actual spiritual perform.
In Soul Searching, Christian Smith and Melinda Lundquist Denton chanced on that American childrens have embraced a "Moralistic healing Deism"--a hodgepodge of banal, self-serving, feel-good ideals that bears little resemblance to conventional Christianity. yet faraway from faulting adolescents, Dean locations the blame for this theological watering down squarely at the church buildings themselves. rather than proclaiming a God who calls believers to lives of affection, provider and sacrifice, church buildings provide as an alternative a cut price faith, effortless to exploit, effortless to disregard, providing little and critical much less. yet what's to be performed? that allows you to produce ardent younger Christians, Dean argues, church buildings needs to rediscover their experience of challenge and version an realizing of being Christian as now not anything you do for your self, yet whatever that calls you to percentage God's love, in observe and deed, with others. Dean stumbled on that the main dedicated younger Christians shared 4 very important characteristics: they can inform a private and robust tale approximately God; they belonged to an important religion group; they exhibited a feeling of vocation; they usually possessed a profound feel of wish. in response to those findings, Dean proposes an method of Christian schooling that locations the assumption of project at its middle and provides a wealth of concrete feedback for uplifting children to dwell extra authentically engaged Christian lives.
Persuasively and accessibly written, Almost Christian is a get up name not anyone taken with the way forward for Christianity in the United States can find the money for to ignore.
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Additional resources for Almost Christian: What the Faith of Our Teenagers is Telling the American Church
As stories go, there are worse ones. So Moralistic Therapeutic Deism acts as a sort of social placeholder, a decent dance partner who “will do”—although if you ask them, what most teenagers really long for is someone who will sweep them off their feet. THE EXCEPTIONS: HIGHLY DEVOTED TEENAGERS The National Study of Youth and Religion found one group of teenagers who were exceptions to this rule—youth who really were swept off their feet by the Holy, and who consistently managed to avoid Moralistic Therapeutic Deism.
7 For highly devoted young people, faith is a big deal. They “own” their traditions, possess articulate and integrated theologies, and draw signiﬁcantly from their religions’ faith stories to inﬂuence their decisions, actions, and attitudes. 8 But topping the charts—in religious devotion, in overall well-being, in integration of faith and life—were the Mormons (see appendix C). ”9 A SOCIOLOGICAL EXPLANATION: CULTURAL TOOLKITS “Culture, to use a computer analogy, is humanity’s operating system,” explains the sociologist Tim Clydesdale.
The resolution is not a mutual understanding of Shannon and Lali’s respective religions but a blurring of the boundaries between them. Shannon co-opts Hinduism into her Christian monotheism (“I think all religions’ gods are part of the same god”) and Lali, a good Hindu, splits God apart again (“Yeah, we need a lot of gods”). But both of them feel as though they have come to a common understanding—and they have. This understanding grows out of their identity as American teenagers, who have been marinating in the ideals of personal autonomy and individual freedom long enough to know that getting 31 32 Worshipping at the Church of Benign Whatever-ism along gives them license to adjust any particularist claims their religions may make.
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