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Almost Christian
 
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Kenda Creasy Dean
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Almost Christian

3.98 of 5 stars 3.98  ·  rating details  ·  424 ratings  ·  72 reviews
Based on the National Study of Youth and Religion--the same invaluable data as its predecessor, Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers--Kenda Creasy Dean's compelling new book, Almost Christian, investigates why American teenagers are at once so positive about Christianity and at the same time so apathetic about genuine religious practice....more
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Published July 15th 2010 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published June 12th 2010)
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Sean
"Almost Christian" is a provocatively titled book that analyzes the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion. It is very intelligently written, so I'd suggest getting the Kindle version to help define some of the words Dean uses while reading. But in a season where a lot of people are throwing youth ministry under the bus, Dean proposes the simple notion that adolescent faith is more a product of the apathy in adults' lives than in the programs of youth ministry. "Almost Christian" ta...more
Alison
Recommended by Schmiddy.

Almost Christian paints a bleak picture of the faith of young Americans, but the book is not wihtout hope. It offers inspiration and direction if we are to reverse the current state of faith dubbed "Benign Whateverism." The problem is that majority of "believing" young people are not overly eager about their faith. The vast majority see God as a sort of divine therapist who helps them be happy and get along with other people. Sadly, sin, the need for a saviour, and overco...more
Jana
I admit I read this because of the "Mormon Envy" chapter. I was very interested in what qualities of Mormonism translated to the NYSR (National Study of Youth and Religion) finding that Mormon teenagers are faring best in meaningful and practical application and understanding of their religion. To quote, "In nearly every area, using a variety of measures, Mormon teenagers were consistently the most positive, the most healthy, the most hopeful, and the most self-aware teenagers in the study."

Sin...more
Jeffodist
from page 3- "Here is the gist of what you are about to read: American young people are, theoretically, fine with religious faith-but it does not concern them very much, and it is not durable enough to survive long after they graduate from high school.
One more thing: we're responsible."

No matter your faith, this book will have you asking, "am I highly devoted to the faith"
It seems most Americans (not just youth) have a faith in a God who just wants us to be nice. And we can call on him if we ar...more
Andy Goodrich
I loved the first few chapters of this book and then found it wanting. The first few chapters were full of insight into our youth culture and the church as a whole but then in the final 2/3 of the book the researched backed, black and white clarity of the first portion of this book became clouded by a fog of intellectual church talk as the author tried to offer a solution. All in all the book as many good things to offer but by and large I felt that the author is just where everyone else is she...more
Diane
This book looks at the results of a recent survey on American teenagers and religious faith, and seeks to make sense of the results. The author's conclusion is that teenagers' lukewarm religious faith mirrors similar attributes in their parents' faith, that most teenagers take after their parents (and other important adults in their lives) in terms of their beliefs, and that a multi-generational, vibrant church is the best place to raise spiritually committed teenagers. The author makes some goo...more
Jay Miklovic
I liked this book. The beginning was pretty repetitive, and as I said in one of my status updates, benign. It did get better though.

There were a lot of things to take away from the book. Personally I found the idea of cultivating language 'behind the walls' in order that Christians would be able to communicate on and outside of the walls to be helpful. In other words the book actually seemed to speak in support of Christianese, something that most books addressing the future of the Church tend t...more
Cole J. Banning
Aug 22, 2012 Cole J. Banning rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Cole J. Banning by: Tony Jones
I blame Rod Dreher.

Rod Dreher was a blogger at Beliefnet.com, where he consistently provided a voice which was theologically, politically, and culturally conservative. Dreher was the sort of guy I would read in order to stay fluent in the best arguments in favor of those positions with which I disagreed, in service of trying to be someone who was a) generally well-read and b) intellectually honest. I didn't read his blog religiously, but I would stop by sometimes when I was in a particularly st...more
Hansen Wendlandt
Almost Christian is carefully written, often with striking precision for theologians, sociologists and other heady church professionals, sometimes with evocative prose for the hearts engaged in youth ministry. Creasy Dean offers a good analysis of the NSYR, although one could ask for comparison with a few other studies about current or past teenage religiosity, and perhaps more proof of how churches and parents are at fault for kids’ bad ideas about God, rather than society in general. Her descr...more
Free
Jan 21, 2012 Free rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Youth Pastors
I can't say enough great things about this book. This is a book written as a result of real interview questions on faith with youth from all over the world ages 13-18. The results from the answers is overwhelming to say the least, but not too surprising.

If you are a Pastor, Youth Pastor, Youth Leader or a parent with kids this is a book for you. Specifically Youth Pastors and Youth Leaders, I would go as far to say next to the Bible it is imperative that you read this book.

I am currently a yout...more
Patrick
Very interesting and even inspiring in parts. I loved the first two chapters about how too many American Christian teenagers are actually adopting a worldly philosophy the author labels "Moralistic Theurapeutic Deism," or "Benign Whateverism." It demands nothing and is not transformative, but it vaguely asks people to follow the Golden Rule and not judge others and leaves teens with a vague positive impression of religion. God is called on when needed and thought of as a "Spiritual Counselor" or...more
Jonathan Brooker
As many others have said, this book starts so well. Dean does a great job of setting the stage for the problem in the American church and culture today. Without any big fanfare Moral Therapeutic Deism has crept in and stollen the hearts and minds of many of our teens and adults in our churches. Don't know what MTD is? Read this book.
But I can only really recommend reading the first few chapters. After she makes the turn to talking about Mormon envy it goes downhill quickly and severely. The read...more
Elle
An interpretation of the National Study of Youth and Religion by one of the interviewing researchers, Almost Christian explores how the Church has replaced Christianity with "niceness." Richard Neibuhr's characterization of liberal Christianity offering, "A God without wrath" bringing "men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross," helps define this "niceness," which ends up being too weak to keep people in the Church. Creasy Dean's work h...more
LeAnne
In Almost Christian, Dean attempts to answer this question left hanging in Christian Smith and Melinda Denton’s Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teens (Oxford University Press, 2005): Why do so many church kids abandon religious practice as young adults? Dean blames the church, including parents, for not challenging young people with a content-rich faith that reaches out in service to the world around us. Despite the historic doctrines of our churches, we have failed...more
Joseph
Fantastic book on modern American adolescent Christianity; should be required reading for every church youth group leader. Dean discusses moralistic therapeutic deism and how it has lead to a bunch of really nice teens who, as nice as they are, don't really have Christ in their hearts. He proposes some solutions to helping this reverse itself, but also some interesting research on why moralistic therapeutic deism is a problem in the first place.

My one complaint is the praise he gives Mormons. I...more
Jeff Raymond
I don't know why I find books about people's relationships with religion so appealing, but I do. Maybe it's because my relationship with religion, before withering away and dying completely, was so strange for me, and I get a lot of enjoyment finding out other people's roads to where they're at.

This is not a book directed to people who have left/abandoned/lost God, but a book directed to people who are trying to keep God. It's focused on teenagers and their relationships with the religion they'r...more
Krista
I found this book interesting and engaging, though it took me awhile to get through it (social science often takes me awhile. It just doesn't capture my attention the same way that, say, fiction does.)
In the book, Creasy Dean (a PTS prof) explores the results of the National Study of Youth and Religion. One of the major findings of this study - a point she returns to throughout the book - is that many American teenagers espouse an outlook called Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Her discussion of th...more
Tom
Kenda Dean reflects theologically upon the National Study of Youth and Religion, which among other discoveries gave us the phrase "moralistic therapeutic deism" to describe the generic, default faith of the youth in our country (and, anecdotally, many adults as well).

Dean is one of my favorite thinkers on CYF ministry (Children, Youth, Family). She does a wonderful job of showing us the "sign potential" of youth - that as we seek to understand adolescents we end up understanding deep realities a...more
Churchlady
I've been reading this book for years now. Literally. There's lot of information - it's a report of a study of American youth and their faith lives. I appreciated the author's thoughtful examination of the data and her ability to bring practical experience of working with youth into the book so it becomes a much more practical discussion of raw data. She even offers thoughts for solutions instead of just sitting at the sidelines and wringing her hands. We discussed this at a recent youth workers...more
Eric
Springing from the National Study of Youth and Religion, Dean explores in further detail why religion, Christianity in particular, is so "whatever" among teens. This book is where I came across the term "Moralistic Therapuetic Deism" -- a watered down version of Christianity that instead of having a loving and involved god who promises everything and demands our all, we have what she refers to as a Christian-ish Cult of Nice where god neither demands nor promises much. Therefore, religion become...more
Bill
May 09, 2014 Bill rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: campus ministers
Recommended to Bill by: Jason Clark
The book’s main premise is that our Christian youth today have adopted their theological beliefs (described as Moralistic Therapeutic Deism) by watching the older generation. Evidence shows that young people who live in the midst of a Christian community whose focus is on living out the mission of God experience meaningful faith.

I especially appreciated the section on "translation," which is really a missiological message on incarnation. The author develops excellent thoughts on the importance o...more
Coryke
Dean both explores the implications of the NYSR findings - specifically, that American teenage faith is prone to something called Moral Therapeutic Deism - and discusses ways to challenge that way of thinking. Perhaps most importantly, she notes that this (psuedo-)theology so favored by teenagers is not just an indictment of them, but of all of us. That is, teenagers are not Moral Therapeutic Deists because they didn't listen to their parents and faith communities, but precisely because they did...more
Jen
Great book! So that's what moral therapeutic deism is. Well written. Writer can mention theological concepts ideas in an easy conversational tone. Written with passion and conviction and a bit of humor.

Lots of Catholic concepts...though I think writer is Methodist. ( a teens journal entry is shown as an example of reflection, in the spirit if the Ignation general examen).

I recommend it to anyone working with youth ministry, catechists, examples of testimony, examples of good writing regarding f...more
Allen O'Brien
"Almost Christian" is a fantastic reverse-engineered look at the faith of Christian churches in the United States. Kenda Dean analyzes the work done in several surveys of adolescent faith, then makes the calculated conclusion that the findings (which portrayed a stark deism) merely reflect a truth about the faith of many churches today.

If we dedicate ourselves to overcoming the obstacles between the youth and adults in our churches, but the adults themselves cannot formulate or articulate their...more
Ryan Michaud
An incredibly introspective read that causes the reader through an evaluation of self, faith, and the role one plays in shaping the faith of youth.
Erin
Teen faith most closely mirrors parental faith. No wonder it's so bland. Almost Christian discusses the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion. Excellent book for those who are called to work with teens or in discipleship ministries. There is a future for the Church and it lies in a creed, a call, a community, and a hope.

I would recommend reading Sticky Faith alongside Almost Christian , for some practical ways to help your family understand the difference between Christianity and...more
Kyle Alt
Helps us see the culture of "Christianity" that has overtaken much of church's culture today.
Jaima
An illuminating read. I was expecting an academic treatise, but found something else. Dean argues passionately for missional Christianity. Yes, she includes statistics, but it was the potent experiential stories and her personal commitments that caught me. Reading this book was a reflective experience, and I found myself examining my own religious experiences: individually, In my family, and in my church community. Reading the book bettered my understanding of some basic Christian concepts and s...more
Lindsey
I liked the content and concepts, but the author is really long-winded. I managed to get to the core information by skimming, though I knew much of the statistics and background already.
Mark Moore
Something is missing in regard to this book. Maybe I'm missing something here but the youth interviewed in the book seem rather naive in many ways. You don't need a dose of Mormon theology, or Christian theology for that matter, to have solid family values. The main examples come from either Mormon or Evangelical families. Are there any young adults from more progressive churches that can articulate a mature understanding of the Christian faith? This book is highly overrated and somewhat simplis...more
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Kenda Creasy Dean is an ordained elder in the Baltimore-Washington Annual Conference (United Methodist) and professor of youth, church, and culture at Princeton Theological Seminary, where she works closely with the Institute for Youth Ministry. A graduate of Wesley Theological Seminary, she served as pastor in suburban Washington DC and as a campus minister at the University of Maryland-College P...more
More about Kenda Creasy Dean...
The Godbearing Life: The Art of Soul Tending for Youth Ministry Practicing Passion: Youth and the Quest for a Passionate Church Omg: A Youth Ministry Handbook Starting Right: Thinking Theologically About Youth Ministry (YS Academic) Starting Right: Thinking Theologically about Youth Ministry

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“Words matter to Christians not primarily because they spread our ideas or accomplish our goals, but because they proclaim our love. For both God and humans, love is a self-communicating impulse. Love goes out from itself toward the beloved; love cannot be contained. God reaches for us in the act of creation, in deliverance, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, but above all in the Incarnation, the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. So we preach, pray, dance, and sing because—like the ebullient leper who ignores Jesus’ instructions to stay mum about his miraculous healing—we tell anyway (Mark 1:40–45).” 1 likes
“The church’s first witness, as the theologian John Howard Yoder reminds us, is the way we live before the eyes of the watching world.4 You may recall that, two nights before the Passover, Jesus was having supper at the house of Simon the leper, when in walked a woman with an alabaster jar. She smashed it and poured its precious contents of nard—worth about $35,000 in today’s dollars—over Jesus.” 1 likes
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