ThreeSixty Magazine, May 2014

Some are comfortable defining themselves at an early age. Others are content searching for the answers in adulthood. If the answers ever come, that is. That’s the beauty of religious discussion: The only certainty is, well … uncertainty. Even those firmly entrenched in their faith can’t claim to know exactly what will happen in the future, while those who openly question the logic and reasoning behind religious belief readily acknowledge the unexplainable enormity of the world around them.

For teens, the biggest questions are often steeped in their own sense of religious independence. When did faith become personal? Why do specific rules or traditions matter? Or do they simply follow Christianity, or Islam, or Hinduism, or atheism—you name it—because of parental or peer influence? In this package of stories and essays, several ThreeSixty writers examine the significance of personal faith, and how—even with its myriad question marks—religion continues to shape today’s generation of young believers.

Also in this issue: In-depth features on teen homelessness (Thomas Wrede, Katia Kozachok), the hidden demons of autism (Alexis Reaves), selfie culture (Elena Renken) and female empowerment (Shay Radhakrishnan). Our latest @16 feature takes us to the mayor’s office in St. Paul, where Chris Coleman sat down with Maya Shelton-Davies, while Amolak Singh looks behind the dugout of the St. Paul Saints and Simone Cazares previews the upcoming St. Paul Jazz Festival.

Be sure to check out all the great content or download the full PDF below!

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Letter from the publisher: It's the end of an era

As Lynda McDonnell prepares for retirement, the longtime ThreeSixty executive director reflects on the past 12 years of student-centered journalism.

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Saying goodbye to adolescence means finding new solitude

As she embarks on a new college journey, senior Madie Ley reflects on her hometown of Elk River—and how its secluded woods watched her grow up these past 18 years.

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Selfie expression: Today’s teens are intent on capturing every moment with their phones

Thanks to smartphones and social media, teens can’t get enough of their own faces—resulting in a bit of selfie overload, perhaps?

Shining stars: Stargirl Initiative aims to help young girls feel empowered

A humble endeavor by one South Minneapolis mother from Ghana aims to help young girls feel better about their self-image and self worth.

All in the family tree: Digging into the past can reveal a lot about your present

While genealogy might not be able to compete with Instagram for the attention of today’s teen, learning about family history can have a deeper impact for all ages.

Sweet sounds of summer: For three days, jazz takes center stage in St. Paul

An often-overlooked music genre gets its due in St. Paul as the Twin Cities Jazz Festival takes over Mears Park in late June.

@16: Chris Coleman turns passion for St. Paul into productive tenure as mayor

The St. Paul mayor cruised to his recent re-election, but in his spare time, he prefers to cruise on his bike through the much beloved “city of neighborhoods.”

The stigma of homelessness is tough, but not insurmountable

For several young people experiencing personal setbacks, overcoming homelessness is not an impossible task.

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SafeZone in St. Paul gives homeless youth the tools to succeed

As the sign reads, “SafeZone is a community.”

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Personal reflection: Thomas Wrede on writing about homelessness

Tackling difficult subject matter isn’t easy for a professional reporter, let alone a teen testing the journalism waters while in high school.

Following religious rules can be a matter of personal preference

When it comes to religious rules, does practice make … perfect?

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Interfaith discussion opens up a bigger world to teens

Sundays at the Interfaith Youth Leadership Coalition are meant to stimulate honest conversation. Questions are strongly encouraged.

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The life of a preacher’s daughter isn’t what you see in pop culture

Historically, preachers’ daughters are expected to be virtuous. They should dress conservatively. Spend more time at church than at parties. They’re “daddy’s little girls.”

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Unitarian profile: Laura Christenson

With an atheist father, Buddhist stepmom, Unitarian mom and Christian grandparents, Laura Christenson could have picked from an assortment of religions. She decided to become a devout Unitarian.

Judaism profile: Phoebe Ellis

The stereotypes, the jokes, the misconceptions. Phoebe Ellis has heard it all.

Buddhist profile: Seamus Flynn

Seamus Flynn is comforted by the reminder that he exists. As the world moves so quickly around him, Flynn notices how easy it is to lose sight of a concept most take for granted

Muslim profile: Ra'wi Mahamud

Ra’wi Mahamud has all the phone apps that you would expect of a 17-year-old Washburn High School junior — Twitter, Instagram, 2048, Snapchat.

Atheist profile: Alex Wick

Just because Alex Wick was born into a household with atheist parents didn’t mean he had to become one.

Protestant profile: James Sorenson

While most students at Washburn High School dances are searching the floor for their next partner, James Sorenson is thinking about God.

Hinduism profile: Apekshya Panda

Apekshya Panda is at home inside Maple Grove’s Hindu Temple of Minnesota, a hidden gem nestled between rolling farmlands.

Surrendering to spiritual unknowns defines Balinese Hindu belief

Growing up in Indonesia, I’ve always heard stories about how there is another world that lives beside us. Another world that we can’t grasp literally. But it’s there.

Finding faith: Exploring religion as a teen means falling into the unknown

One teen writer begins to contemplate her lack of religious upbringing — and what it will mean for her future if she embraces a part of society she’s never felt comfortable around.

Losing faith: Twists and turns of spirituality lead to plenty of questions

Being Catholic has meant different things to Katia Kozachok at various points of adolescence. Her conclusion: She isn’t sure what to call herself, but she’s ready to keep exploring.

YourTurn winners: How do you respectfully express yourself online?

ThreeSixty asked for your thoughts on balancing social media freedoms with the need to remain professional for future endeavors. Here’s how our essay contest winners responded.

No longer a kid, not quite an adult

The teenage years are tough to navigate, especially when you don’t fully understand what it means to be mature.

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Don't stop ... Beliebing? Saying goodbye to a childhood inspiration

Growing up sometimes means shedding childhood friends, or in this case, saying goodbye to celebrity inspiration-turned-paparazzi punchline Justin Bieber.

Mu Performing Arts gives local Asian American actors a voice

When an opportunity didn’t exist for Asian Americans to invest in local theater, Mu Performing Arts created a community to be proud of.

Thinking outside the batter's box a requirement for St. Paul Saints

Meet promotions manager Sierra Bailey in our third installment of “The Way I Work,” a regular ThreeSixty feature aimed at providing insight into unique and interesting career fields.

An isolated existence: Autistic teens battle hidden demons

If autistic teens had their way, they might never leave the basement. Two local students share their daily struggles and personal challenges.

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