Posted by Sara on Monday, June 20, 2011
Maybe I'm not looking at the right books, but it struck me the other day that I don't find a lot of religion in the YA fiction I read. I'm working on a project now that touches on some religious themes, but I have to be honest that I'm not sure what I want to say about religion. I know it's an important part of many teens' lives, but it seems so personal. Not to mention possibly contentious. And the older I get the more personal it becomes, for me at least.
Growing up,church was a big part of my life. (I was raised Christian--United Methodist, to be exact.) Church was my stage--I sang in the choir and did solos nearly every other week. Church was also my social life--we had a wonderful, active youth group from which I drew many friends, including a boyfriend who will always be one of my favorite people although we've gone our separate ways. I loved my church and even went to church camp most summers, but I wouldn't say I was necessarily religious.
Other kids at my school were a lot more overt about their Christianity than I was. In fact, sometimes it felt like being a Christian was the "In" thing to do. A lot of our more popular students were in Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and I remember one group of girls who passed around journals where they wrote prayers and notes to each other. I don't doubt that they were sincere, but it came across a little like an exclusive clique. We lived in a small Kansas town, so while I knew a few people who practiced other religions, I either didn't notice if they had their own groups or they weren't as public about them.
Every now and then I'll read a study or poll that says teens today are more religious than ever. Or less, depending on who's doing the study. It does seem to me like there's a greater awareness of and tolerance for a variety of faiths, and it seems like teens are more comfortable than I was expressing their beliefs in public. Teen readers, what's your experience with religion? How big a role does it play in your life? How do you interact with friends of different faiths? And what would you like to see in YA fiction when it comes to religion? Are there any books that you feel tackle the subject especially well?