In my daily perusal of various news sites, I’ve made a 90/10 rule for the things I read. Simply put, 90 percent of what I come across is crap. The other 10 percent is actually useful. I understand defining certain pieces of news as crap is subjective; as is the other 10 percent.
However, I’ve run across an article that I just can’t relegate to either category. It’s an article about religion, so that almost immediately relegates it to the “crap” bin. On the other hand, it’s interesting and informative, so that relegates it to the “things of importance” bin.
Author Kendra Creasy Dean has warned parents of teenagers that their teens are following a watered down, ineffective form of Christianity, and you’re to blame. As a 19 year old hanging on to my teenage years by a thread, I must investigate.
This obscure author of books such as “The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry” and “OMG: A Youth Ministry Handbook” says that today’s teens are basically only using the name of God to boost their own self-esteem and that churches and parents aren’t doing enough to keep these kids interested in “real” Christianity.
As a professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, Dean took it upon herself to interview 3,300 Christian teens aged 13-17 of all political convictions and denominations. She found that many teens in this nation that consider themselves Christian are uninformed and inarticulate about their convictions – if any.
Like any good, overbearing religious professor, Dean calls this lack of genuine religious belief “moralistic therapeutic deism.” In short, it means “once teenagers reach a certain age, say, past 10, they begin to resist their parents’ urge to shove the Bible and everything holy down their throats and become more apathetic to the notion of Christianity – they call themselves Christian to either please people or because they’re still trying to find themselves.”
Or something like that.
Dean rambles on and on the path of sententious musing by saying that churches these days are being too “nice” and preaching safe messages to bring in the most visitors and get the most offerings. Her solution?
Yes, as a parent you must engage in some kind of radical act to get your dissenting kid back on the path of forced righteousness! One thing she suggests is spending a summer in Bolivia on a holy agricultural project, or turning down a good job offer to stay with a failing church. She says we teens must know “this is how Christians live.”
Yes! That’s going to make teenagers feel so compelled to regain our moral bearings – being radical! The one thing that drives more people away from religion than anything! Maybe next, you can drag your kid to a political rally and burn an effigy of Martin Luther King, Jr. on a busy street! Too radical for you? Not a problem. You could always just drag your kid with you on a mission trip so he can help you force our religion and culture on unsuspecting populations worldwide.
Do adults really think we’re this stupid?
Now, I do agree that churches and parents are partly to blame for teens having such a loose grip on their faith these days – only in a different respect. Churches are to blame because they’re boring. Parents are to blame usually because they forced religion upon the kid from birth and now the teenager is rebelling from the impressionable kid he used to be.
Think about something: In today’s culture, do you think it’s very easy to keep your faith as a learning, evolving teenager? Or is it just a case of apathy? Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and YouTube sure give this this culture a lot to be occupied by. Then again, war, death, poverty, murder, rape, assault, theft, nuclear threats and the lack of overall hope for the future sure give this youth a lot to become apathetic towards their faith. You see, teens aren’t as stupid as preachy numbskulls such as Dean say we are. That being said, suggesting that parents step up their influence and that churches are too soft isn’t the way to get the youth interested in religion again.
I have to ask – why is Dean so obsessed with getting the youth ingrained with religion? Can’t she just accept that part of growing up is original thought and questioning? You see, parents fear a questioning teen because that means they’re losing their creative control over them. They are no longer able to say a few poorly-researched words and be able to bend their kid into what they want. Dean knows this. She also knows that she can’t change the way the world or this society is, nor can she make Christianity look more appealing – which is why she targets these churches and parents. I don’t care how tough your church is – your kid will most likely still dread going every Sunday morning. Why? IT’S A WEEKEND! Occam’s razor, people!
As for the parents – don’t listen to this woman. Accept the fact that your teen is growing up, and if you want him or her to be religious like you – let them make the decision, not you. Be there for them, reason with them – but listen to them when they reason with you.
Now that I’ve mentioned Occam’s razor and time is winding down here, I will offer the simplest solution to why teenagers have lost touch with Christianity: It’s boring, we’re easily amused by electronics, and you’re stuffy, sententious old bats.
However, the teen that can logically and rationally present his beliefs against Christianity is the teen that has either rebelled or grown up in a secular household. Either way, there’s nothing you can do about it.
So, want to know how to get us interested in religion again? Leave us the hell alone.