What Scandinavia Can Teach U.S. Teens About Coming of Age - Atlantic Mobile
Geege Schuman stashed this in Values
To be sure, “rites of passage” for young people still abound: hazing, bullying, and ritual humiliation of newcomers thrive in American high schools, fraternities, gangs, pro sports, and other professions. On the healthier side, many adolescents still learn a family religious tradition and mark their own transition out of childhood through rituals like bar and bat mitzvahs and confirmations.
But what if a rite like that existed for everyone in America, attached not to a specific faith tradition but to a national creed of values, political traditions, and pro-social character? What if we created a civic confirmation experience that was both constructive and common to all?
It turns out something like this exists already in Scandinavia. As I learned when a friend recently returned from a trip to Iceland, at 14 or 15 Icelanders can sign up for a secular coming-of-age program akin to a Christian confirmation. Participants meet weekly for nearly a year and study national history, world affairs, ethics, ecology. “In the end,” my friend reports, “they have a ceremony celebrating their accomplishment and the beginning of their ‘adult’ civic life.”
Great idea but it's difficult for me to imagine an "American secular experience" envisioned by religious fundamentalists as anything other than a threat.