What role does God play in Christian teenagers’ lives? For many, God is Mr. Fix-It, the handyman who is called in to fix problems but ignored otherwise. Mr. Fix-It is my name for another of the basic precepts of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism (MTD), the treacle brand of religion common among the nation’s youth, according to “Almost Christian” by Kenda Creasy Dean.
Here is how she puts it: “God is not involved in my life except when I need God to resolve a problem.” God “grants wishes” and hands out “hall passes” in life. In general, Dean says, “American young people are devotees of nonjudgmental openness, self-determination, and the authority of personal experience. Religion stays in the background of their lives, where God watches over them without making demands of them.”
Does this fit with what you see around you?
Do teens in your faith tradition see God as a supernatural Mr. Fix-It?
Dean’s book is both a sociological investigation and a sermon. She relies on gold-plated sources of research that contain reliable data on what teens think, believe, and do. ut she doesn’t shy away from telling us who is responsible for the soft-serve version of Christianity: Us.
Cartoonist Walt Kelly’s Pogo said, “We have met the enemy and he is us.” Dean’s sermon is Pogo’s theory applied to American Christianity. American adults are to blame for the sugary-sweet version of Christianity that teens embrace. America’s churches, she says, “seem to have offered teenagers a kind of ‘diner theology’: a bargain religion, cheap by satisfying, whose gods require little in the way of fidelity or sacrifice.”
Do you buy her sermon?
Do you agree that the blame should be placed on Christian adults and the churches?
If you are in another faith tradition, does Dean’s sermon ring true for you?
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