Almost Christian: Triumph of Nice

My daughter and I are reading Kenda Creasy Dean’s book Almost Christian together and blogging about it. This is my second post in the series. It is a response to my daughter’s post on the chapter 2 of the book.

Chapter 2: The Triumph of the Cult of Nice

My daughter’s post hits some of the high points of the second chapter, but it was a secondary point in her post that got me to thinking.

Dean writes that teens who want to get to know God better, often in spite of their congregations, aren’t equipped with the vocabulary to do so. Most of the teens in the aforementioned National Study on Youth and Religion couldn’t even articulate basic theological concepts, such as the Incarnation.

Dean in her book notes that teens – who are tongue tied and confused when asked to talk about theological matters – have no problem at all having passionate and sometimes quite technical conversations about other topics. Find a teenage boy who plays fantasy football and ask him to explain it to you. Esoteric and complex information is not beyond the grasp of teens. Their inability to speak coherently, much less intelligently, about God is a barameter of passion and knowledge, not ability.

And what does the church do?

One school of thought says we need to make the concepts and doctrine of the church more accessible. We should change our language to make it less daunting or odd.

Is Dean saying we should keep the church language and do the work of teaching and forming people? That makes sense, if we still believe we have anything to say that can’t be said in the language the world uses.

3 thoughts on “Almost Christian: Triumph of Nice

  1. My son is a geek. At the same time he has read a lot of stuff I will never get to. In our discussions about the Bible he will say that the Bible is my thing and I am really into it. I mirror that comment about him and the computer but I say that there is a certain amount of skill I need to be able to use a computer effectively. We don’t need to be experts to be well equipped.

    I expect kids to be into what is fun but at some point I expect them to grow up and get serious about serious things. The things of God are serious, but not fun so people put them off until later.

    This is an interesting experiment. You two may turn this into a regular feature.

    Grace and peace.

  2. Pumice above seemed to be going where I was thinking. Teens know technical language about things because their passionate about them. Are they passionate about what the church teaches? But, it is a good point to think through: do we do too much assuming about what kids can and can’t grasp?

    I do wonder if part of the problem, though, is 1) are we communicating effectively in the church (not necessarily relevantly, which might be a concern), but leads to a second question 2) are those who have been going to church all their lives well-versed in the language of the church and do they see a need to be?

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