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A Brief Review of

Souls in Transition:
The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults.
Christian Smith with Patricia Snell.
Hardback: Oxford UP, 2010.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]

Reviewed by Mark Eckel.

Swiss authorities studied how religious traditions are passed from generation to generation.  The results published in 2000 were staggering.  When the father of the home attends weekly services, 4 out of 10 children will regularly follow his example as adults.  But when dad’s participation is taken out of the equation, only 2% are committed to church or synagogue later in life.  Adult relationships in the life of a young person’s religious commitment can be described in simple “make or break” terms.

Christian Smith’s latest research advanced in the book Souls in Transition, confirms both the Swiss findings and biblical foundations.  Perhaps the most important statement in the book appears not in the text but in a footnote.  “One of the most common, if not the most common, among the variety of answers that teenagers offered was that they wished they were closer to their parents” (344).  Over and over again qualitative and quantitative sociological analysis reached the same conclusions: “Parents matter a great deal . . . in shaping religion during the emerging adult years” (246).  Of course, Solomon was ahead of the curve.  Timeless truths are drilled deep into ancient Scriptural practices.  The fear of Yahweh provides a family refuge when the righteous man sets the standard for his children (Proverbs 14:26; 20:7).

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