A Princeton Theological Seminary researcher claims that more and more American teens are adopting a mutant form of Christianity, in which God is a divine therapist whose mission is to make them feel better about themselves and their world.
Kenda Creasy Dean "says more American teenagers are embracing what she calls 'moralistic therapeutic deism.' Translation: It's a watered-down faith that portrays God as a 'divine therapist' whose chief goal is to boost people's self-esteem."
Teens, Dean says, have much to talk about in terms of their own lives, including money, sex, family and more. But even the most religious, who value their faith as integral to their identity, are amazingly inarticulate when it comes to their religious beliefs. When asked, they are unable to express basic tenets and teachings, though Mormons and Evangelicals tend to be a bit better at this task than their peers.
Dean says parents neglect to pass on the faith to their children in radical ways, resulting in the current confusion.
Though in our church, I wonder, do parents even possess the ideas and tools themselves to pass on the faith to the next generation? Or has there been such a breakdown in faith formation that we now have the blind leading the blind? I remember that a few years ago in my home parish there was a shift from catechizing only young people toward education programming for entire families. I'm unsure what the results of this type of formation program will be, but it's a step in the right direction, acknowledging that the need for increased education is a multi-generational phenomenon, not restricted exclusively to the young.