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Genealogy Sites Reveal Our Search for Roots

Who knew spitting into a plastic tube would become such a popular pastime? Ancestry.com has more than 23 million members in its DNA network and 23andMe boasts more than 12 million customers worldwide. It’s never been easier to track down that great-great-grandmother from Norway.

We’re also watching professional historians do it on television. We tune in to shows like Antiques Roadshow, Who Do You Think You Are?, and Finding Your Roots. Ancestry sells. Genealogy is having a pop culture moment.

But why now? What are we searching for? Genealogist Bernice Bennett says, “There may be some people who are looking to find that they’re connected to Pocahontas, trying to find somebody famous, but you also have others who are saying there’s something missing. Who am I? How can I find that information, and how can it make me feel whole?”

In other words, we’re searching for belonging. We want to recognize ourselves. Our own sense of being and purpose can be reaffirmed when we see ourselves in the generations that have come before us. We are hard-wired for such connection, but many of us feel adrift. Genealogy research and programs tap into an unmet need.

Possible Preaching Angles:

Longing for belonging is an age-old desire. It’s one reason the Bible is chock-full of genealogies that trace the connections between generations of the early Hebrew people. Those who-begat-whom passages that modern readers tend to want to gloss over, were pivotal to an understanding of identity and wholeness in the ancient world.

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