Youth and culture: Trendwatch

Youth and culture: Trendwatch

how orthodoxy got hip

For teenagers and young adults raised in a world of blurred boundaries, self-help sermons, materialism, consumerism, and a de-mystified gospel, nothing could be finer than a heavy dose of orthodoxy

In her just-released book The New Faithful. Why Young Adults Are Embracing Christian Orthodoxy (Loyola Press), author and journalist Colleen Carroll says a large and growing minority of young people-the “best and brightest” in today’s Christian culture-are gravitating toward Christian beliefs and lifestyles that reflect the rock-sound declarations of the Apostles Creed. And that helps explain why the fastest-growing church denominations are conservative, according to the new study “Religious Congregations and Membership.”

In a Christianity Today (www.christianitytoday.com) interview, Carroll says:

* “In general, there is a reaction against the larger culture feeling of being saturated by greed, sex, and all the decadent forces in our culture. But sociology isn’t the full explanation here. There is a deep spiritual hunger that transcends sociology.”

* “This may be one of the first generations where faith is such a conscious choice. It’s not something embedded in their family anymore. I searched far and wide, and I didn’t find too many people… who had never questioned their faith.”

* “They seem to be attracted to modern classics. For example, they read C.S. Lewis and G.K. Chesterton. A lot of the Catholics have discovered the earlier writings-those of Thomas Aquinas and Augustine.”

* “There is an element of rebellion against the culture, and it’s strong in the area of sexuality.. A lot have gone with the culture and just found it empty and depressing. In many cases, sexuality got them to turn back to God because things had gone so badly when they followed the world’s advice in that area. They started to question everything they were hearing from the popular culture.”

* “They want the hard gospel. They want a preacher or a priest to tell it like it is, to give them morality that they believe is sound and doesn’t simply cater to their whims.”

Related News: According to researchers with the ongoing National Study of Youth and Religion, religious senior highers have more positive attitudes toward themselves, and are less likely to participate in delinquent behaviors, than their peers who are not religious.

‘good drugs’ replace ‘bad drugs’

While the percentage of drug-abusing teenagers has dropped to a 10-year low, the number of kids who are taking prescription drugs has grown at a rate that’s alarming to some in the medical community.

According to researchers with the Atlanta-based Pride Survey, junior and senior highers are experimenting with illicit drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes at the lowest rates in a decade. Less than a quarter of them (22%) say they’re drug users-the lowest number since the 1993-94 school year. In the last year, two– thirds (65%) say they drank alcohol and a little over a third (36%) say they smoked cigarettes-these are the lowest numbers in the 15-year history of the survey. The keys to the downturn, say experts, include:

1. Parents and teachers who consistently warn teenagers about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse just 15% of kids whose teachers warn them about drugs “a lot” use drugs, compared to 32% of students whose teachers “never” warn them).

2. Parents and teachers who encourage kids to get involved in extracurricular and religious activities (only 13% of teenagers who attend religious services “a lot” use drugs, compared to 36% of those who “never” attend).

3. Prevention programs that start earlier in a kid’s life. Researchers have found that students who begin using alcohol, cigarettes, and marijuana in elementary school are five times more likely than their peers to abuse drugs in middle school. So the counterattack must start sooner.

This downturn in drug-abusing behavior would be great if it didn’t come during a time when doctors are overmedicating kids with prescription drugs.

Last year, spending on prescriptions for young people under 19 grew by a whopping 28%. And kids are staying on their prescriptions a third longer (34%) than five years ago. A lot of these pills are for allergies, asthma, and infections-nothing surprising there. But doctors are alarmed by a spike in prescriptions for neurological and psychological disorders (Ritalin, for example), and for pills designed to treat heartburn and other stomach problems, which have grown a staggering 660% in the last five years.

Copyright Group Publishing, Inc. Nov/Dec 2002

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