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Cari Myers Publishes a New Book on Conformity

Cari Myers, an assistant professor of religion at Seaver College, recently published a book titled, "Same Is Better": A Qualitative Study of Latinx and White Young Adults in Churches of Christ in the Southwestern U.S. This text evaluates how a church can impact an adolescent’s interpretation of the word “success.” 

“I want people to understand that there is a path to intimacy with God that doesn’t have to conform to a specific identity,” says Myers, describing the intention of her book. “Conforming to who we think we are and a relationship with God don’t always have to mean the same thing.” 

Myers arrived at this goal after conducting five years of interviews with 16 young adults. In 2016, she began this process by organizing an initial discussion with each participant, a process which she then repeated in 2021. After gathering this data, Myers compared and contrasted how each individual’s answers changed over time. 

“Conformity is rewarded with community,” says Myers, explaining her findings. “The more you can fit into this dominant identity, the more successful you will be. That’s tricky when you already possess your own innate identity that doesn’t align perfectly with other’s expectations." 

The young adults within Myers' study expressed that conformity seemed to be a key ingredient for success within the American church culture. This belief, coupled with the atmosphere that helped create it, has begun to lead young people away from church and toward their own search for self actualization.  

“One of the saddest things I learned was that, for these young people, the voice of the church was the voice of God to them,” Myers shares. “When they felt unwelcome at a church, they understood it as, ‘I’m not welcomed by God.’”

Fueled by a desire to change this narrative, Myers revisited her dissertation, turning it into a full length book which explores issues of diversity and conformity in church and other educational contexts. To learn more about Myers’ work visit her publisher’s (Rowman and Littlefield) website.