Flunking Sainthood


I’ve blogged before on the new sociological research about teen spirituality, the main crux of it being that many Protestant and Catholic teens have very little idea what they believe. According to research by Kenda Creasy Dean and Christian Smith, Catholic teens consistently rank the lowest in their knowledge of the Bible and core doctrines of their faith. According to Donna Freitas‘s study Sex and the Soul, they also rank lowest in their ability to integrate their religion’s teaching with their behavior, especially in terms of sexual ethics.

I’m not ragging on Catholics here; as you may already know I have major Catholic Envy. (I need Saint Jude in my life, stat.) But it’s pretty clear that Catholics need to do a better job at imparting the faith to the rising generation–a value that has fallen by the wayside since Vatican II.

This is why catechism teachers and parents should check out HarperOne’s new Bible for Catholic teens, LIVE. There’s a lot to praise about this new BIble. It’s creative, with just about every two-page spread featuring some helpful graphic: a text box, a photograph (often taken by a teen), a relevant quotation, a blank space for doodling or journaling, or a “profile of faith” about a saint or person from history. Sometimes these whiz-bang extras don’t always relate to the Bible’s content very well (such as an anti-war quote from Albert Schweitzer on the same page as 1 Maccabees’ description of the invasion of Syria), but they’re good for getting teens to think.

What was refreshing about this teen Bible is that it doesn’t have that feel of trying too hard, of aching to squeeze neat little morals for teens about the great how-to advice they’ll glean from the Bible. Yes, there are awkward places–like when the Book of Revelation is described as being about “The Ultimate Party!”–but in general, the LIVE Bible allows for honest reactions from teens about what they’re reading. “All things work together for good? Really?” is the text box about Romans 8:28. Good question. I’ve argued before that some Bibles for teens are condescending–or even morally suspect in their commercialism and celebrity worship–but the LIVE Bible is a cut above, with substance and honesty.   

The type is small enough that the paperback Bible is a bargain at $26, though no one over 40 will be able to read it. Which is precisely the point. This is not a Bible for geezers. This means that I’m happy to give away my copy of this Bible to the first Catholic teen who posts a comment here about his or her favorite part of the Bible.   

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