12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Excellent resource for parents, youth ministers, and social scientists,
This review is from: Soul Searching (DVD)
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.