hits counter Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers - Ebook PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

Availability: Ready to download

In innumerable discussions and activities dedicated to better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of teenage life is curiously overlooked. Very few such efforts pay serious attention to the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of American adolescents. But many teenagers are very involved in religion. Surveys reveal that 35% attend religious services w In innumerable discussions and activities dedicated to better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of teenage life is curiously overlooked. Very few such efforts pay serious attention to the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of American adolescents. But many teenagers are very involved in religion. Surveys reveal that 35% attend religious services weekly and another 15% attend at least monthly. 60% say that religious faith is important in their lives. 40% report that they pray daily. 25% say that they have been "born again." Teenagers feel good about the congregations they belong to. Some say that faith provides them with guidance and resources for knowing how to live well. What is going on in the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers? What do they actually believe? What religious practices do they engage in? Do they expect to remain loyal to the faith of their parents? Or are they abandoning traditional religious institutions in search of a new, more authentic "spirituality"? This book attempts to answer these and related questions as definitively as possible. It reports the findings of The National Study of Youth and Religion, the largest and most detailed such study ever undertaken. The NYSR conducted a nationwide telephone survey of teens and significant caregivers, as well as nearly 300 in-depth face-to-face interviews with a sample of the population that was surveyed. The results show that religion and spirituality are indeed very significant in the lives of many American teenagers. Among many other discoveries, they find that teenagers are far more influenced by the religious beliefs and practices of their parents and caregivers than commonly thought. They refute the conventional wisdom that teens are "spiritual but not religious." And they confirm that greater religiosity is significantly associated with more positive adolescent life outcomes. This eagerly-awaited volume not only provides an unprecedented understanding of adolescent religion and spirituality but, because teenagers serve as bellwethers for possible future trends, it affords an important and distinctive window through which to observe and assess the current state and future direction of American religion as a whole.


Compare

In innumerable discussions and activities dedicated to better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of teenage life is curiously overlooked. Very few such efforts pay serious attention to the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of American adolescents. But many teenagers are very involved in religion. Surveys reveal that 35% attend religious services w In innumerable discussions and activities dedicated to better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of teenage life is curiously overlooked. Very few such efforts pay serious attention to the role of religion and spirituality in the lives of American adolescents. But many teenagers are very involved in religion. Surveys reveal that 35% attend religious services weekly and another 15% attend at least monthly. 60% say that religious faith is important in their lives. 40% report that they pray daily. 25% say that they have been "born again." Teenagers feel good about the congregations they belong to. Some say that faith provides them with guidance and resources for knowing how to live well. What is going on in the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers? What do they actually believe? What religious practices do they engage in? Do they expect to remain loyal to the faith of their parents? Or are they abandoning traditional religious institutions in search of a new, more authentic "spirituality"? This book attempts to answer these and related questions as definitively as possible. It reports the findings of The National Study of Youth and Religion, the largest and most detailed such study ever undertaken. The NYSR conducted a nationwide telephone survey of teens and significant caregivers, as well as nearly 300 in-depth face-to-face interviews with a sample of the population that was surveyed. The results show that religion and spirituality are indeed very significant in the lives of many American teenagers. Among many other discoveries, they find that teenagers are far more influenced by the religious beliefs and practices of their parents and caregivers than commonly thought. They refute the conventional wisdom that teens are "spiritual but not religious." And they confirm that greater religiosity is significantly associated with more positive adolescent life outcomes. This eagerly-awaited volume not only provides an unprecedented understanding of adolescent religion and spirituality but, because teenagers serve as bellwethers for possible future trends, it affords an important and distinctive window through which to observe and assess the current state and future direction of American religion as a whole.

30 review for Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Ever since I learned of the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, I've wanted to read the original study. And this did not disappoint. It's extremely academically minded. I read it cover-to-cover slowly and enjoyed it. But if you're going to just dip into it for some quick takeaways: read Chapter Four, which introduces and defines MTD, read the Conclusion which is short and summarizes the main structure of the book, and read the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, which are more loose recommendation Ever since I learned of the term Moralistic Therapeutic Deism, I've wanted to read the original study. And this did not disappoint. It's extremely academically minded. I read it cover-to-cover slowly and enjoyed it. But if you're going to just dip into it for some quick takeaways: read Chapter Four, which introduces and defines MTD, read the Conclusion which is short and summarizes the main structure of the book, and read the Concluding Unscientific Postscript, which are more loose recommendations from the researchers about how adults could do better in educating teens about religion. The national survey was conducted in 2002-2003, and even by now it feels a little dated. There's mention of the "digital revolution" and how newfangled things like the Internet and CDs and cassettes impact teens' lives. I can only imagine what a survey like this done now would say about social media. But the dated technology is a minor side point -- there's major takeaways here that will be relevant for the first half of the 21st century. Outline --Chapter One gives descriptions of in-person interviews conducted with two teenage girls. This gives the reader a more personal idea of how real-life teenagers act, speak, and think. One girl is casually religious, and one girl is religiously devoted. It's clear that parents and circumstances have a very strong impact on the religious lives of American teens -- an obvious point when you think about it, but it's good to set the tone. --Chapter Two dives straight into all the data, breaking down the statistics into tables. NSYR split up "religion" into major categories: Conservative Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, and Nonreligious. You quickly get a sense of just how extensive this survey was: there's stats on specific denominations, parental beliefs, service attendance, the importance of personal faith, belief in God, youth group, talking about faith as a family, friends' religion, expressing faith at school, relationships between religious teens and adults, and teaching religion. The end of the chapter lists main ideas in bullet points: most teens adopt the religion of their parents and about half of teens say religion is important, but at the same time teens say that religion is a remotely distant part of their families, friends, and school. --Chapter Three contradicts the common platitudes about teens being "spiritual seekers" or being "spiritual but not religious." This really isn't the case. This chapter brings attention to the fact that teens are actually very poorly educated about the foundational aspects of their own religion (see quotes below). This chapter also contrasts the data to draw parallels and correlations: teens with poorer relationships with parents are less likely to be religious; teens from urban areas, from broken families, and from families with higher incomes are less likely to be religious. This chapter examines more closely the data for religiously disengaged teenagers and teenagers who are very religiously devoted. This chapter also gives more descriptions of in-depth interviews, drawing portraits to explain trends. --Chapter Four is my favorite. Here we get small snippets of different conversations with teens, all working toward Smith's bigger thesis of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. The subheadings tell the story: that's just how I was raised, it's not worth fighting about, it's good for lots of people, I'm not sure how to explain it, there's a God and stuff, religion's really important to me, I guess, I'm not too religious, everyone decides for themselves, who am I to judge, there's no right answer, it helps you do what you want, it helps me feel happy, you don't have to be religious to be good, it'll be important when I'm older, I don't want to be offensive or anything, and so on. Teens generally think they are autonomous, impervious to all outside influences, but that's not really the case. The creed of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism: 1. A God exists who created and orders the world and watches over human life on earth. 2. God wants people to be good, nice, and fair to each other, as taught in the Bible and by most world religions. 3. The central goal of life is to be happy and to feel good about oneself. 4. God does not need to be particularly involved in one's life except when God is needed to resolve a problem. 5. Good people go to heaven when they die. --Chapter Five discusses the wider context for how social forces influence teen's participation in religion. Smith talks about mass-consumer capitalism, the digital communication revolution, and residual positivism and empiricism. He talks about how the concept of a "teenager" didn't exist until post-WWII, and how this awkward, in-between, not-a-child-but-not-yet-an-adult, stage of life is detrimental. Teens are stuck, away from adults all day, allowed to socialize only with peer groups of the same age, disengaged, disconnected, and snubbed by adults as lesser-than. But at the same time they are given money, cars, jobs, and technology, and get caught up in the same trappings of sex, drugs, and alcohol like adults. They are hungry for close, meaningful mentor relationships with adults who can show them how to be an adult. Adults are quick to cast off the entire age group as a foreign, alien, stereotype. But Smith shows that really all major "teenage problems" are actually also "adult problems." So stop rolling your eyes and claiming "they're just teenagers" and start building relationships with these young adults! Harrumph! --Chapter Six is almost a side-bar on only Catholic teens. Smith is from Notre Dame, so I suppose it's fair to allow him this rabbit trail. There's more personal interviews here, and discussion about Catholicism's efforts -- or failure -- to engage American youth. Not much different from other Christian denominations. --Chapter Seven talks about life outcomes for religious youth. There's stats on risk behaviors like smoking, media consumption, pornography, cutting school, sexual promiscuity, emotional wellbeing, positive relationships with adult role models, closeness to family figures, beliefs on morality, beliefs on caring for the poor and homeless, and participation in structured clubs and volunteer work. The second half of the chapter talks about the benefits that religious structures can give to youth: moral directives, spiritual experiences, role models, community and leadership skills, coping skills, cultural capital, social capital, networks, and extracommunity links. --The Conclusion and Concluding Unscientific Postcript summarize all the major points from the previous chapters. Here Smith shows the adults reading this book that religion is actually important to teens, but they don't know how to talk about it; he urges adults to realize that teens aren't a foreign alien stereotype, and they need to take action to close the generational gap and model positive religious identity for teens. Weaknesses: I found it strange that Smith sectioned off "black Protestant" as a majority religious group in America. Categorizing a religion by race doesn't seem to work well. If you're going to splice up Christian groups by cultural background, why not also section off "East Asian Protestants"? There's significant numbers of, say, Korean Christian churches in America. Or what about "Spanish-speaking Mexican Catholics"? They intentionally over-sampled Jewish households: 80 families. But they surveyed only 12 Muslim families and 12 Buddhist families. They made no distinction between different kinds of black households (e.g. families who grew up in America vs. African immigrants). Very little to nothing on Pacific Islanders or American Indians. Nothing much on Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, or Scientology. Large groups seemed to be underrepresented. I have immediately put Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults on my TBR. I am excited to see what Smith has to say about young adults. Quotes: From Chapter Three: "Consider conservative Protestants, for example. About half of their teens say that many religions may be true; more than one-third say it is okay to practice multiple religions; more than one-quarter believe people should not try to evangelize others; more than one-third say it is okay to pick and choose one's religious beliefs and not accept the teachings of one's faith as a whole; and nearly two-thirds say a person can be truly religious and spiritual without being involved in a church. It appears that these conservative Protestant youth have not been very successfully inducted into their tradition's distinctive commitment to Christian particularity, evangelism, the need to accept all that the Bible teaches, and serious church involvement." From Chapter Three: "Thus, some spiritual but not religious teens use these categories not to disparage or distance themselves from organized religious per se, but to emphasize the importance of personally meaningful faith that is practiced in the context of organized religion. Theirs is a critique, not of traditional religion itself, which they actually practice happily, but merely of the prospect of an empty, habitual, ritualistic faith. For them, "spiritual but not religious" is not the rejection of traditional religion but a reminder to sustain spiritual vitality with traditional religion." From Chapter Three: "...Steve finds himself in the common, intellectual sticky position of many of his teenage and adult contemporaries: asserting high moral standards (e.g., belief in human rights, equality, dignity of life) while possessing few coherent, rational grounds for explaining, justifying, and defending those standards. Thus, Steve began by asserting universal moral facts and human dignity, then quickly shifted to arbitrary individualism..." From Chapter Four: quote from a teen: "...Um, I think if you're a good person and like, you know you don't break any huge, if, if you live your life around the basic structure, you know. I mean nobody's perfect so you're gonna do bad things. But like, the whole Ten Commandments and stuff, pretty much a good person, then when you get judged you get to have another life. If you ask forgiveness and pray a lot you have a pretty good chance, just 'cause, you know, the whole forgiving God thing." From Chapter Four: "Indeed, it was our distinct sense that for many of the teens we interviewed, our interview was the first time that any adult had ever asked them what they believed and how it mattered in their life." From Chapter Four: "In these voices we hear the core underlying ideas constituting American religious individualism: that each individual is uniquely distinct from all others and deserves a faith that fits his or her singular self; that individuals must freely choose their own religion; that the individual list he authority over religion, and not vice versa; that religion need not be practiced in and by a community; that no person may exercise judgments about or attempt to change the faith of other people; and that religious beliefs are ultimately interchangeable..." From Chapter Four: "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-transormative, transcendent truth, but that it instrumentally provides mental, psychological, emotional, and social benefits that teens find useful and valuable." From Chapter Five: on positivism and empiricism, "These schools of thought claimed, in short, that there are only two sources of real knowledge, logical reasoning and empirical experience, and that statements are meaningful only if they can be positively proven true by logic or experience --making traditional, metaphysically oriented philosophy and theology simply meaningless and useless." From the Conclusion: "In contrast to these and other distancing stereotypical interpretations of American adolescents, our analysis and research experience suggest that adults ought to stop thinking about teenagers as aliens or even others.... Most problems and issues that adults typically consider teenage problems are in fact inextricably linked to adult-world problems. Furthermore, most teens appreciate the relational ties they have to the adult world, and most of those who lack such ties wish they had more and stronger ties. The traditional 'storm and stress' model of adolescence... is a counterproductive lens through which adults view youth. That lens unnecessarily and unhelpfully creates distances when what is greatly needed is connection. Adults need alternative mental and discursive models that emphasize grownups' similarities to, ties to, and common futures with youth."

  2. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Rosenberger

    Soul Searching contains a lot of relevant information, but the presentation is hopelessly dry. The teens' survey replies and life stories break up the monotony somewhat, but data-heavy chapters and repetitive conclusions make it difficult to wade through. I also didn't care for the way the author inserted himself into the book, especially when it was for the purpose of pointing out how "unattractive" one of the teenage girls he interviewed was and how much he pitied her for that. If this had bee Soul Searching contains a lot of relevant information, but the presentation is hopelessly dry. The teens' survey replies and life stories break up the monotony somewhat, but data-heavy chapters and repetitive conclusions make it difficult to wade through. I also didn't care for the way the author inserted himself into the book, especially when it was for the purpose of pointing out how "unattractive" one of the teenage girls he interviewed was and how much he pitied her for that. If this had been a book/study about how attractiveness plays a role in success in life, comments like that would have served a purpose. Since it wasn't, they just came off as condescending and dickish. The general finding was that the majority of teens are religious and usually follow in the footsteps of their parents, but unless they are raised LDS or Conservative Christian, they usually have very casual, confused, and doctrinally unsound views of their own religions. There you go - I just saved you several hours of brain-numbing reading. You're welcome.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Mark Oppenlander

    Several years ago, I heard sociologist Christian Smith speak on the SPU campus; I have been meaning to read this book ever since. In it, Smith compiles the information from the National Study of Youth and Religion which he and others at UNC Chapel Hill conducted in 2002-2003. This massive study of how teens aged 13-18 in America view God, religion and morals involved thousands of phone interviews and several hundred more in-depth face to-face follow-up interviews which went into greater detail t Several years ago, I heard sociologist Christian Smith speak on the SPU campus; I have been meaning to read this book ever since. In it, Smith compiles the information from the National Study of Youth and Religion which he and others at UNC Chapel Hill conducted in 2002-2003. This massive study of how teens aged 13-18 in America view God, religion and morals involved thousands of phone interviews and several hundred more in-depth face to-face follow-up interviews which went into greater detail than the phone surveys. The results of the survey are surprising in some areas and downright disturbing in a few others. Smith's research uncovered that most American teens are not actually "spiritual seekers" as the popular media, alarmist clergy and others have led us to believe. Most teens do not dabble in various religious practices, picking and choosing as they would at a buffet restaurant. Instead, most teens in America simply co-opt the religion of their parents and/or the predominant religion they experience around them. That is somewhat surprising, but for people of faith it should be good news. The bad news is this: the faith they're finding in their churches and copying in their own behaviors bears little resemblance to orthodox Christianity (or Judaism, or Mormonism, etc.) as it has been defined throughout the centuries. In fact, the basic tenets of this belief system were so unique - and so consistent amongst various teens - that Smith and his team gave this new religion a name: Moral Therapeutic Deism, or MTD for short. MTD is a system that suggests God wants us to be good people, is available and "on-call" when we need short term help, but overall is not actively engaged in our day-to-day lives. Traditional religious concepts about Creation, the Trinity, the Incarnation or even atonement theories were absent from most teens theology. What makes this even more disturbing is what it suggests about the religion of these teens' parents. If the teens surveyed believed they were Baptists or Jews or Catholics or Methodists, and were copying their parents and churches examples, does it not mean that our houses of worship have become theologically thin too? Are the parents as ill informed about their belief systems as the teens? Or have they simply failed to teach the teens the orthodox tenets of their faith? Another thing I found troubling in the book was the idea that teens are no longer rebellious toward religion, but instead are simply apathetic about it. In a consumeristic, pluralistic world, religion of any type is simply not worth arguing about. If it works for you, great. If not, who cares? Overall, this is a fascinating book and I recommend it to anyone who works in the church, works with youth in other contexts or simply cares about the future of the church in America. One warning though: I almost gave this book just three stars, primarily because the writing style makes it a difficult read at times. The content is great and is worthy of the four star review, but it reads more like an academic paper or presentation than it does a popular translation of the NSYR research. However, if you can wade through some of the statistics, and the overblown sentence structures and the descriptions of the "regression analysis" they did, you'll find that the information these social scientists uncovered is well worth considering.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    This is an important study of the spiritual lives of American teenagers. Not surprisingly, Smith and Denton find that teenagers are significantly influenced by the religious choices and practices of their parents and that the vast majority of American teens embrace some form of religious identity. Also not surprising is that fact that the Mormon (Later Day Saints) church probably does the best job of anyone in influencing the religious beliefs and lifestyle of its teens. Some surprises. One is ho This is an important study of the spiritual lives of American teenagers. Not surprisingly, Smith and Denton find that teenagers are significantly influenced by the religious choices and practices of their parents and that the vast majority of American teens embrace some form of religious identity. Also not surprising is that fact that the Mormon (Later Day Saints) church probably does the best job of anyone in influencing the religious beliefs and lifestyle of its teens. Some surprises. One is how inarticulate most teens are about what they believe even though this appears to be meaningful (in contrast to articulacy about everything from current media stars to STDs). Also surprising is that the idea of being "spiritual but not religious" just doesn't connect except for a very small minority--most embrace the beliefs of their parents. Another, and perhaps the most salient finding of the book, is that the predominant religious belief of American teens across various religious bodies and demographics is moralistic therapeutic deism. This is a religion that is about being a good person, having a god who helps us when we need it, but is removed from day to day life otherwise. The authors situate this within a four level schema of American religion--a very thought provoking insight: American Civil Religion Organizational Religion Moralistic Therapeutic Deism Individual Religion Smith and Denton look at the effectiveness of several groups in influencing the beliefs of teens: Conservative Protestant, Mainline Protestant, Black Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Mormon, and no-religious identity specified. Mormons, Conservative Protestants, and the Black Church come out highest on most measures yet the inarticulacy of teens even from these traditions and the embrace of moralistic therapeutic deism suggest far more needs to be done to strengthen the formation of teens even in these traditions. They also observe the heavy competition religious bodies face in this task from other formative influences in teens lives: school, athletics, peer groups, and media. Smith has a sequel titled Souls in Transition which looks at the collegiate population and I look forward to seeing his observations about what happens in this "transition".

  5. 4 out of 5

    LeAnne

    The conclusion is that teens tend to "believe" as their parents do, but this doesn't answer the question of why so many throw it over once they have left home. The conclusion is that teens tend to "believe" as their parents do, but this doesn't answer the question of why so many throw it over once they have left home.

  6. 4 out of 5

    John

    Quotes that struck me as I read: Introduction "In many discussions and activities revolving around better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of their lives seemes frequently to go unnoticed, unconsidered, unexamined. That is their religious and spiritual lives." (pg. 4) Ch. 1: TWO BAPTIST GIRLS "American adolescents as a whole experience and represent in theri lives an immense variety of religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, experiences, identities, and attitudes." (pg. 26) "[There Quotes that struck me as I read: Introduction "In many discussions and activities revolving around better understanding and helping teenagers, one aspect of their lives seemes frequently to go unnoticed, unconsidered, unexamined. That is their religious and spiritual lives." (pg. 4) Ch. 1: TWO BAPTIST GIRLS "American adolescents as a whole experience and represent in theri lives an immense variety of religious and spiritual beliefs, practices, experiences, identities, and attitudes." (pg. 26) "[There] are a significant number of adolescents in the UNited States for whom religion and spirituality are important if not defining features of their lives." (pg. 27) "Among the more religiously serious American teenagers, religious 'practices' appear to play an important role in their faith lives." (pg. 27) "Contrary to popular perceptions, the vast majority of American adolescents are not spiritual seekers or questers of teh tyoe often described by journalists adn some scholars, but are instead mostly oriented toward and engaged in conventional religious traditions and communities." (pg. 27) "Interviewing teens, one finds little evidence that the agents of religious socialization in this country are being highly effective and successful with the majority of their young people." (pg. 27) "Religious faith and practice in American teenagers' lives operate in a social and institutional environment that is highly competitive for time, attention, and energy." (pg. 28) "Adults inescapably exercise immense influence in the lives of teens - positive and negative, passive and active." (pg. 28)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Reid Mccormick

    This thorough work by Christian Smith is an enormous research study on the spiritual lives of American teenagers. I was fascinated by the unexpected results of this study. If I had to sum up the entire study in one sentence, it would be this: American teenagers are not that different from their parents. Here are a few facts I found very interesting: The United States is not religiously diverse. It is mostly Christian with a smattering of atheists and smaller religions. Additionally, there is only This thorough work by Christian Smith is an enormous research study on the spiritual lives of American teenagers. I was fascinated by the unexpected results of this study. If I had to sum up the entire study in one sentence, it would be this: American teenagers are not that different from their parents. Here are a few facts I found very interesting: The United States is not religiously diverse. It is mostly Christian with a smattering of atheists and smaller religions. Additionally, there is only a 10% difference in religious beliefs between teens and their parents. Almost 90% of teenagers believe that one or more religions are true, though very little practice multiple religions. Over two-thirds of teenagers do not believe they need to be a part of congregation. Mainline Protestants were the least articulate about their faith. Teenagers fear being labelled “too religious” thus downplay their spiritual behavior. Teenagers are highly influenced by individualism even from organized religion. Parents have the biggest impact on a teenager’s spirituality. This was a very informative and interesting work. I loved this concluding quotes from Smith: “Adolescents may actually serve as a very accurate barometer of the condition of the culture and institutions of our larger society.” Anyone working with teenagers or emerging adults will find a lot of value in this work.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Thomas Grosh IV

    For every youth minister, campus minister, and parent! In particular, their consideration of "moralistic therapeutic deism" as being passed down from "Christian" parents and church ministries needs to become part of a wider conversation. In addition to all the stats and analysis, there are some very helpful tips in the �Concluding Unscientific Postscript" . . . could easily be used for wider, non-academic, practical conversations regarding youth ministry and "Christian" parenting. I have some For every youth minister, campus minister, and parent! In particular, their consideration of "moralistic therapeutic deism" as being passed down from "Christian" parents and church ministries needs to become part of a wider conversation. In addition to all the stats and analysis, there are some very helpful tips in the �Concluding Unscientific Postscript" . . . could easily be used for wider, non-academic, practical conversations regarding youth ministry and "Christian" parenting. I have some thoughts posted at http://groshlink.net/archives/2006/10... Note: I came across the book through a strong recommendation by George Marsden before a presentation on "The Outrageous Idea of Christian Scholarship," http://groshlink.net/archives/2006/02..."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Garland Vance

    This is a critical work for anyone who is involved in high school or college ministry. I would even consider it vital for parents to read. However, it is not a quick read. Written by a sociologist, this is difficult reading, though the authors keep the reader engaged. Christian Smith is the author of the (now famous) term "moralistic, therapeutic Deism." He goes into great detail about this latent worldview that is shaping the hearts and minds of teenagers, young adults, and even their parents a This is a critical work for anyone who is involved in high school or college ministry. I would even consider it vital for parents to read. However, it is not a quick read. Written by a sociologist, this is difficult reading, though the authors keep the reader engaged. Christian Smith is the author of the (now famous) term "moralistic, therapeutic Deism." He goes into great detail about this latent worldview that is shaping the hearts and minds of teenagers, young adults, and even their parents and youth pastors. Toward the end of the book, Smith gives very practical and helpful tips for youth workers, but don't just skip to the end. The practicality makes little sense without the sociological study to back it. I highly recommend this book but warn you not to read it before you go to bed. This is a book that needs to be read slowly during the time of the day when you are most awake.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Justin

    This was a very insightful piece showing what the spiritual landscape for teenagers is and is not. More or less, it's Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This was a terrific spawning of a title which encompasses the modern accepted religion of America. Goes a long way in debunking myths that Americans are hostile to religion (more apathetic), and that there is a wide gap between the lives of teenagers and previous generations, when in fact there is great continuity. This was a very insightful piece showing what the spiritual landscape for teenagers is and is not. More or less, it's Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. This was a terrific spawning of a title which encompasses the modern accepted religion of America. Goes a long way in debunking myths that Americans are hostile to religion (more apathetic), and that there is a wide gap between the lives of teenagers and previous generations, when in fact there is great continuity.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This book looks at both survey data and in-depth interviews to gain an understanding of the religious lives of American teenagers. The author's conclusions are that most teenagers resemble their parents in terms of their beliefs and intensity, most teenages can't articulate their religious beliefs very clearly, and the most devout teenagers tend to avoid many pitfalls of growing up as they mature. The book is well-written, although it is a little dense in places. It would be very useful for some This book looks at both survey data and in-depth interviews to gain an understanding of the religious lives of American teenagers. The author's conclusions are that most teenagers resemble their parents in terms of their beliefs and intensity, most teenages can't articulate their religious beliefs very clearly, and the most devout teenagers tend to avoid many pitfalls of growing up as they mature. The book is well-written, although it is a little dense in places. It would be very useful for someone in youth ministry. However, the author doesn't have any earth-shattering conclusions; the information is mainly what you'd expect. I thought his chapter on Cathlic teenagers was probably the most interesting.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Gennie

    This book is chock full of statistics and research data. I believe it was the first book written from the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion, conducted from 2011 to 2005 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are some chapters that are wonderful, and some that I just skipped over. The idea of Consequentialist Morality (p. 156) helped put into words just what I was thinking. Looking at youth in the wider culture of a "mass-consumer capitalist-shaped society" expl This book is chock full of statistics and research data. I believe it was the first book written from the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion, conducted from 2011 to 2005 at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. There are some chapters that are wonderful, and some that I just skipped over. The idea of Consequentialist Morality (p. 156) helped put into words just what I was thinking. Looking at youth in the wider culture of a "mass-consumer capitalist-shaped society" explains a lot about the church and authority as a whole (p. 177) And the "Concluding Unscientific Postscript" (pp. 265-271) should be a must read for all youth workers, parents and any who are interested in the church as we try to grow and reform.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthew Richey

    A little dated (2005) now but extremely thoughtful, thorough, and helpful in understanding the role of religion in the lives of young people. I would recommend this to youth workers, teachers, pastors, and parents who care about the state of religious faith today in the lives of teenagers and young adults.

  14. 4 out of 5

    James

    This book is written by a professor of sociology of religion, and presents the results of the first year of a multi-year study. It is a large, in depth (survey, phone and personal interviews) of teenagers in order to systematically study and classify their religious beliefs. Additionally the author looks at how the beliefs and practices affect religious outcomes. It presents some predictable along with some very surprising results. I think this would be a good book for people who are interested This book is written by a professor of sociology of religion, and presents the results of the first year of a multi-year study. It is a large, in depth (survey, phone and personal interviews) of teenagers in order to systematically study and classify their religious beliefs. Additionally the author looks at how the beliefs and practices affect religious outcomes. It presents some predictable along with some very surprising results. I think this would be a good book for people who are interested in religious sociology and especially for people involved with church youth groups etc.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    It is steeped in data about teens and their religious practices across denominational lines. Heavy read because it is a study of habits interests. Soul Searching is good for those who are interested in the direction of American teens. This book is useful for developing strategy for ministering to teens and for insight into their reasoning for searching and declining religion, spirituality, and parental guidance.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

    Sobering study of the faith lives of American adolescents -- who, it turns out, long for spiritual connection and guidance from trusted adults. Most of the time, we are failing to help them articulate their beliefs or adopt the language of the religious tradition. If you care for young people in your family or your congregation, you owe it to them to read this enlightening book. It will definitely inform my work with young children and pre-adolescents.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hannah McGinnis

    Though it's a super technical, data-driven book that takes some wading through, Christian Smith has presenting a helpful and honest portrait of the spiritual lives of teenagers--for once relying on actual data rather than adults' impressions. For those ministering to teens, this book is helpful for providing an understanding of what's actually going on so that people can best approach and minister to teens' needs. Though it's a super technical, data-driven book that takes some wading through, Christian Smith has presenting a helpful and honest portrait of the spiritual lives of teenagers--for once relying on actual data rather than adults' impressions. For those ministering to teens, this book is helpful for providing an understanding of what's actually going on so that people can best approach and minister to teens' needs.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Beth

    The geek part of me loved all the data, but then I got lost in it. I admit to only really digesting about 1/4 of this book, but it gave me enough to churn over for a while. What has changed in engaging our youth in religion. Teens have so many balls in the air now. Their spiritual lives should not be a burden to weigh them down but a way to ease the stress.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jake Wilhelm

    If you have been born after 1985, know teens, interact with teens, have younger children, or if you yourself are a teen, this book is a must to read. Smith identifies the many influences and outcomes of youth religion in the United Stares. This book displays what youth actually believe about religion and spirituality. Highly recommend for especially anyone work in a religious setting.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Tom

    Skimmed the key matters when it was first published, now I'm reading this in conjunction with the sequel "Souls in Transition." A very important study of youth and religion in the United States. Skimmed the key matters when it was first published, now I'm reading this in conjunction with the sequel "Souls in Transition." A very important study of youth and religion in the United States.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Charles

    This was an interesting read to better understand teenage perspectives on religion and spirituality.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Frank

    I followed this study as it was being done, so I know they've done a great job. I'd like to see the results! I followed this study as it was being done, so I know they've done a great job. I'd like to see the results!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Dave McNeely

    Very good and important research on the religious lives of teenagers in the U.S. But, let's be honest, it's 90% research. Very good and important research on the religious lives of teenagers in the U.S. But, let's be honest, it's 90% research.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    Great scholarly look at the religious lives of adolescents in America.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jason Postma

    An important book based on a long term study of how youth understand and follow their faith commitments.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mar

    gives decent insight into the lives of american teens. For some, there may be too much statistical data, but their summaries and conclusions are good.

  27. 5 out of 5

    E. Scott Harvey

    At first - hopeful. In the middle - utterly depressing. And by the end - thought provoking and challenging.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Excellent text. Best book ever written on the subject.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Good

    Don't remember exactly what date I read this, but it was for my Sociology of Religion class at West Chester. Don't remember exactly what date I read this, but it was for my Sociology of Religion class at West Chester.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Gina

    If I could give half stars, I probably would have given three and a half, but this book does have some strong points. The strongest may be that it does a really good job of explaining the survey criteria, with why things were chosen and how the were administered. It is well explained through each individual chapter and then there is additional information in the appendix that gets deeper into issues like multivariate regressions and times of oversampling and reasons for that. I think this book co If I could give half stars, I probably would have given three and a half, but this book does have some strong points. The strongest may be that it does a really good job of explaining the survey criteria, with why things were chosen and how the were administered. It is well explained through each individual chapter and then there is additional information in the appendix that gets deeper into issues like multivariate regressions and times of oversampling and reasons for that. I think this book could be an excellent companion to a statistics course to illustrate application. I have to commend that, though at times it gets dry, as many people might expect of a course on statistics. Another organizational feature that I need to compliment is that each chapter is written so that it can stand alone as well as being part of the larger whole, which is useful for people who might be interested in only parts of the data. Parents and youth leaders might just want to read the conclusion and postscript, which are fairly brief but cover a lot. There is also a part where in discussing not only what religion means to teens and their parents, but perhaps also what it should mean, there are some profound ideas about the transcendence of religion. Where the book frustrates me - and therefore gets the book docked one to one and a half stars - is that the authors are themselves not questing enough for truth. To see areas where Latter-Day Saint youths do much better, and then write off looking further into that because that is not their area of study, feels like a lost opportunity because there are things that are knowable there. To get so hung up on teens not being familiar with the doctrine of their religions, without also acknowledging that there may not be much point to being familiar with a thing like transubstantiation - perhaps some dogma would be more inclined to hurt faith than help it. Also, referencing David Brooks, with that self-satisfied judgment that misses the point -- I think the authors could go deeper into their own souls, and into the hearts of the people around them. The book does have a lot of value, but that keeps it from being transcendent, and for a book so heavy on statistics it had a surprisingly good chance.

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.