Friday, July 15, 2005

Soul Searching

I've been reading "Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teens", and I'm convinced that every parent and pastor should read it, especially chapter 4 entitled, God, Religion, Whatever. The contents of this chapter are based on extensive interviews conducted with teenagers across the country of every religious tradition. Here's one paragraph:

"Broad swaths of U.S. teenagers-girls and boys, young and old, wealthy and poor, urural and urban, Southern and Northeastern, white and black and Hispanic and Asian-tell us that religion is very valuable, important, and influential in their lives. This is no doubt true in many cases. But observers should know that the religion to which most of them appear to be referring seems significantly different in character from version of the same faith in centuries past. The religion that many U.S. teens acclaim today is not commendable for youth because, for example, it is revealed in truth by holy and almighty God who calls all to a turning from self and a serving of God in gratitude, humility, and righteousness. Nor is it commendable, alternatively, because it inducts them into a community of people embodying a historically rooted tradition of identity, practices, and ethics that define their selfhood, loyalties, and commitments. Rather, the religion that many U.S. teenagers acclaim today is for them commendable because it helps people make good life choices and helps them feel happy. What legitimates the religion of most youth today is not that it is the life-transformative, transcendent truth, but that it instrumentally provides mental, psychological, emotional, and social benefits that teens find useful and valuable" (154).

More quotes to follow...

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