Soul Searching: The Religious and Spiritual Lives of American Teenagers

By Christian Smith; Melinda Lundquist Denton | Go to book overview
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1
Two Baptist Girls

ISAT SLEEPILY in my car waiting in the public library parking lot for 10 A.M. to arrive, the appointed time for my interview with a 16-year-old girl from this small mountain town in a Middle Atlantic state. Her name was Joy, according to my paperwork.1 I had called her and her parents a few weeks before to ask if she would do a personal interview with me for a large research project I was conducting on American teenagers. They agreed, and we made arrangements to meet at their town's public library. So here I was, quite tired. The previous afternoon and evening I had conducted two interviews with teenagers in two other states, then caught a few hours' sleep at a highway hotel, and in the morning drove a few more hours on winding country roads to this mountain hamlet to meet with Joy. But I was also excited. Both of my interviews had gone very well. When I finished with Joy in a few hours, I had yet another interview scheduled that afternoon a few hours' drive away. Four teen interviews, three states, in 26 hours. Not bad.

Ten minutes before the hour, an old gray sedan pulled into the lot and parked a few spots away from me. Looking discreetly through the car windows between us, I saw what appeared to be an old man and a young girl waiting in their car. I was pretty sure it was my contacts, although not certain. A number of old and young people were also gathering, waiting for the library doors to open. I double-checked to make sure all my digital recording equipment was in order. At 10:00 I got out and locked my doors. The man and girl got out of their car. Our eyes met in the tentative way that strangers who have arranged to meet each other in public often do. “Hello, are you

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