The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers
Melinda Lundquist Denton
OXFORD UNIV PR
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Soul Searching tells the definitive story of the religious and spiritual lives of contemporary American teenagers, revealing that religion is indeed a significant factor in their lives. This authoritative book reports the findings of the largest and most detailed such study ever undertaken, a study based on a nationwide telephone survey of teens and their parents, as well as in-depth face-to-face interviews with more than 250 of the survey respondents. Chock full of carefully interpreted interview data and solid survey statistics, Soul Searching contains many surprising findings. For example, the authors find that teenagers are far more influenced by the religious beliefs and practices of their parents and other adults than is commonly thought. They challenge the conventional wisdom that many teens today are "spiritual seekers" and they show that greater teenage religious involvement is significantly associated with more positive adolescent life outcomes. The book also reveals the complexity of contemporary teenage religious life, showing that religion is widely practiced and positively valued by teens, but also de-prioritized and very poorly understood by them, yet significant nonetheless in shaping their lives. More broadly, Soul Searching describes what appears to be a major transformation of faith in the U.S., away from the substance of historical religious traditions and toward a new and quite different faith.
"With a mixture of good news and bad news that punctures many stereotypes about adolescent religious beliefs and behavior, this extensive study deserves attention for what it reveals across the full range of American religious groups."
--Peter Steinfels, The New YorkTimes
"Pioneering.... A highly informative and provocative book... that] is also readable, full of illuminating anecdotes and summaries from which the lively, often-touching personalities of teenagers emerge."
"The most comprehensive and reliable research ever done on youth and religion. For the next 50 years writers on the topic will be referring to their book."
--The Christian Century
"Demolishes the conventional wisdom.... A must-read."
--Andrew Greeley, National Catholic Reporter
"No book in recent memory has as much potential to transform the practice of youth ministry.... T]he results overturn nearly every piece of conventional wisdom about teens and faith."
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