Are We a People of Hope? | July 17, 2020
Three Things This Week
1. The New Fake ID
What it is: Coronavirus masks are creating new opportunities for teenagers…to score booze, that is.
Why it’s a temptation: Teens are posting TikToks of themselves dressing up as grandmas, then covering their faces with coronavirus masks and heading to liquor stores to purchase alcohol. Many attempts have been successful, with some even noting that they weren’t ever asked to show ID but rather if they needed help carrying their purchases. Teens who hear about the trend (and they will even if they’re not on TikTok, since the videos are typically shared on other platforms, too) will want to join in, partially because they might get alcohol, but perhaps an even bigger draw is the fact that it’s a chance to do what everyone else is doing and possibly go viral. So if they suddenly take an interest in costumes, this may be why.
2. Call Me by Your Name
What it is: Over the weekend, Lil Nas X took to Twitter to tease a track (language) from his upcoming album, and it’s a vast lyrical departure from “Old Town Road.”
Why it will require conversation: The tweet consists of a 38-second video of himself singing along to a snippet of the track, with lyrics that are graphic and explicit. Considering them, along with the possible inspiration for the name of the song (the 2017 film about a romance between a 17-year-old boy and his father’s older male research assistant), as well as Nas’s own LGBTQ+ identification (language) and desire to use his art (language) for LGBTQ+ advocacy, it’s clear this track and album will have a message. It will require lots of calm, thoughtful guidance from parents and other caring adults, especially for teens (or even elementary-aged children) who are big fans of Nas. As you begin thinking about how to broach the subject, keep in mind that tackling LGTBQ+ topics rashly or harshly could alienate teens who either have LGBTQ+ friends or are questioning their own sexuality. (Check out our Parent’s Guide to LGBTQ+ & Your Teen for more on this.)
3. Roblox Brings Us Together?
What it is: In an effort to see how the pandemic has affected teens’ online behavior, gaming platform Roblox conducted a survey and found that though they’re spending more time online, they’re often spending that time having conversations with their real-life friends.
Why it’s good news: They found that 52% of the 2,926 13- to 18-year-olds surveyed spend the same amount of or more time with IRL friends on Roblox, voice or chat apps, and other gaming platforms. 40% even said that they had improved their online friendships since the start of physical distancing protocols. Perhaps even more enlightening is the fact that 30% of these teens said their parents are showing more interest in their online lives, including playing the game with them, something that an earlier survey found that 68% of teens wished they would do. Of course, the survey was conducted by Roblox—a for-profit corporation—and it consisted only of current Roblox users, so the data may not hold true across all platforms and communities. But it does remind us that our kids still need social interaction and that taking an interest in our kids’ interests can go a long way toward building camaraderie and trust.
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Experts warn a second surge of COVID-19 deaths are imminent. Racial tensions continue to dominate the news cycle. Economic insecurity is trickling down into every sphere of life. It seems everything these days is up for grabs. Despair, darkness, and depression are dominating the cultural landscape and our interior lives. And yet, as followers of Christ, we are called to be people of hope in a hurting world, which, in hard times like these can only seem like “foolishness to the Greeks.” But is it?
If there is one lasting legacy you can leave with your children during this kairos moment in their lives, it might be this: We are a people of hope. But hope and good old-fashioned optimism are radically different things. While optimism is focused on a good future outcome or a pleasant change in our current circumstances, hope is a quiet confidence in the present based on what God in Christ has done in the past. As long-time missionary and theologian Leslie Newbigin once wrote, “I am neither an optimist nor a pessimist. Jesus Christ is risen from the dead.” Amen to that.
For Newbigin and for us, hope is defiance in the face of fear. It is the often courageous task of staring reality in the face and still claiming that though evil, suffering, and death remain, they have already been defeated. Hope is standing in the valley of dry bones and daring to believe God will breathe life into them once again. Hope is mustering the courage to go to the tomb in the early hours before dawn, just in case. Hope is living as resurrection people in a dying world. Hope is joining God right here and right now in the renewal of all things. If Hell is hopelessness, then maybe a little bit of heaven is the realization that all over this tired old world, “hope springs eternal.”
In the poetic words of Emily Dickinson:
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
Sometime this weekend, carve out 30 minutes or so to start a conversation with your kids about hope. Where do they see signs of hope in the world? How can they embody hope to friends and family living in despair? Why is hope so much more powerful than optimism? And if you feel so inclined, please share those stories with us! We all need a little pick-me-up these days. Simply email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your stories of hope with our team.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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