Souls in Transition – book

Sociologist Christian Smith has been researching the spiritual lives of young people for several years.  In Souls in Transition: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of Emerging Adults he follows up with on the hundreds of young people he interviewed five years ago for Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers.   I am particularly interested: this is the age group, and the stage of life, of most of the students I teach, and those with whom I worship at the College Mass.

You can imagine how delighted to be invited to participate in an online book discussion with college educators and staff across the country.  It’s part of the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE) to provide avenues for young people to explore and deepen the linkages between their faith and their work/family/recreation lives.  They’ve been working for about a decade on background research, but most of the programs have been either on a single campus or conferences of short duration.

The newest venture creates an online community – those of us interested in this topic across a variety of campuses can share ideas and find out what others have been doing.  At my college, the VP for Academic Affairs put out a call late on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend, with quick replies required – and nonetheless more than 30 people were interested in participating.  This was more than could be allowed to post from one college: we would swamp the system.  So I’m doubly delighted to be among the 12 who will be able to both speak and listen; the rest are listeners (and can ask us to speak for them).

The conversation begins on February 1, with a chapter a week.  The introductory instructions include the phrase “Remember that the author is a social scientist; he is reporting what is not what might or should be; some parts of it may be unsettling or uncomfortable to just about every religious persuasion.”  That sounds really intriguing!

I’m planning to write something here each week based on my reading and the conversation, to share the conversation even a bit further.

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