"A Wake-up Call for the Future of Religion In America. This compelling movie provides an overview of the most comprehensive study of teenagers and religion in America conducted by the National Study of Youth and Religion (NSYR) that was reported in the book Soul Searching by Christian Smith, Oxford Univ. Press. Every parent of teens and pre-teens, youth workers, and religious leaders should see this film. The movie traces the lives of several teenagers and their families from a variety of religions perspectives and interviews the principal researchers who discuss the major findings of the NSYR research in light of the lives of real teenagers. Several youth workers also respond to the challenging lives of teenagers in light of the research findings. But, this research and film concerns far more than teenagers. This is a wake-up call for adults and religious leaders alike. The faith of teenagers it turns out is most often a reflection of the faith of their parents as clearly documented in the film. In other words "we get who we are." Parents who believe that dropping off their kids at church or synagogue for religious training is enough will be deeply disappointed with the results. What happens in the home is surprisingly more important than what happens in religious institutions. This is an excellent resource to show at a gathering of parents of teenagers or a gathering of parents and their teenagers. Discussion questions are provided and this emotionally challenging film will certainly lay the foundation for significant discussion. Any household, ministry, church, or synagogue that is serious about passing on their faith to the next generation will re-think their approach after viewing this film (and reading the book). Watching this film will change the way you raise your teenagers or minister to teenagers.
(M. C. - Boston, MA)
"Required Viewing for Those Interested in Teenagers! Soul Searching is a must-see for parents, youth workers, or anyone else interested in the religious and spiritual lives of American teenagers. The film is both enlightening and emotionally engaging, and the cinematography is top notch. The filmmakers weave together footage from the lives of several teenagers with interviews from scholars and youth workers to highlight some of the major religious and spiritual characteristics of today's youth. While there is no dearth of opinions about today's adolescents, Soul Searching is (refreshingly) drawn from the findings of a high-quality social scientific study of youth and religion rather than from the personal experiences of one person. And given one of the major findings here is that teens are rarely asked to talk about their religious beliefs and practices, parents and interested adults may find watching this film with teens a great way to start a conversation about religious and spiritual matters."
(J. U. - Austin, TX)
"Excellent resource for parents, youth ministers, and social scientists. I had the opportunity to attend a screening of the documentary Soul Searching (based on the findings of the National Study of Youth and Religion--NSYR) several months ago and found it to be well produced and very informative. I was drawn to the film on several levels. First, as one trained in developmental psychology, I was interested in what the film might tell me about the development of the religious and spiritual lives of youth, and how that development might fit within or alongside what I know of other realms of development. Second, as an adult member of a mainline protestant congregation, I was interested in what the findings might have to say about effective youth ministry and religious education. Finally, as a parent of children heading into the teenage years, I was interested in understanding what potentially lies ahead (and the role of the family and other social contexts). On all three levels, I found the film very thought provoking. The core findings of the NSYR are laid out in the film (many of which are not at all what one might expect), and illustrated by teens speaking for themselves on various issues. Christian Smith, the lead investigator of the NSYR, provides helpful commentary along the way, but his presence in the film is understated, keeping the focus on the teen commentary. A nice balance is struck between demonstrating the "typical" types of teenage responses revealed by the NSYR data on the one hand, and avoiding the all-too-frequent over-generalizations about teens on the other. I came away from the film (as a social scientist, parishioner, and parent) with many questions sparked in my mind, and found the book version of Soul Searching (By Smith and Denton, 2005) additionally informative, with thoughtfully nuanced explanations of the study findings. Within the context of a congregation, the film would be a great basis for a broader conversation between those working in youth ministry, teens, and their parents. I look forward to future results from the NSYR."