Issue 05 | March 2, 2015

Issue 05 | March 2, 2015

Weekly Rundown

This week's major pop culture happenings:



Movies and Music overlap this week, as 50 Shades of Grey has the biggest February debut in movie history. And the theme song from the movie, "Love Me Like You Do" by Ellie Goulding, is #3 this week on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song describes a mentality toward relationships that is pervasive in teen culture, as well as very powerful in teen girls' perception of what love should be. In short, the girl finds meaning in a boy, the boy then takes advantage of her dependence on him and may even become abusive, but the girl doesn't leave because it would mean giving up her meaning. She even justifies the pain he causes her by saying, "I don't care 'cause I've never been so high."

The song is powerful to students because, even as Christians, they may not be living their faith. That is to say, they may profess Christianity or even believe they're "living Christianly" but actually be finding their meaning elsewhere. Here's a key lyric that seems harmless at first glance:

? You're the light, you're the night
You're the color of my blood
You're the cure, you're the pain
You're the only thing I wanna touch
Never knew that it could mean so much, so much ?

When we make a person into our identity, purpose, and sole reason for existing, we are walking on dangerous ground. Not only do we give them power to use and abuse us (as we see in the movie/books), which will only bring misery and suffering, but we are also settling for a counterfeit and pathetic version of the love that God originally designed and intended for us.

Ask Your Students: Where do you find your meaning? Why is the perspective in this song dangerous? Is this true love? Why or why not? How is God's definition of love and relationships better than the love in this song (and movie)? Where should we find meaning/purpose (think beyond the typical Sunday School answer and dig deeper)? How is finding meaning/purpose in those things more fulfilling than in relationships like this?




You may not know who Russell Brand is, but we guarantee your students do! While Russell Brand may not be a Christian, he gets it right about pornography. This video can be a great tool for discussion with your students.

Ask Your Students: How does our media and culture fuel the pornography industry?



"Time of Our Lives" by Pitbull, which is currently #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, is slowly working its way into popularity. Pitbull is hugely popular with young people, especially in the partying culture. This is a "classic" pleasure song, as well as very typical of Pitbull's songs. It's about not having enough money to pay rent but buying booze with his last $20 anyway.

? I knew my rent was gon' be late about a week ago
I worked my a** off, but I still can't pay it though
But I just got just enough to get up in this club
Have me a good time, before my time is up
Hey, let's get it now

She's on fire, she's so hot
I'm no liar, she burned the spot
Look like Mariah, I took another shot
Told her drop, drop, drop, drop it like it's hot
Dirty talk, dirty dance

I told her I wanna ride out, and she said yes
We didn't go to church, but I got blessed ?

It is a sad fact that many people today work very hard and still don't have enough money to pay all of their bills. And we definitely don't want to downplay that societal issue or not be part of fixing their plight. However, we do want to address this "Have a good time before my time is up" mentality that is in so many of Pitbull's songs. In fact, it's what he uses to justify just about everything. Much of teen culture propagates this idea and encourages teens and young adults to put off responsibility for as long as they can. However, God's beautiful, flourishing design for this world included working and being responsible. When we follow that design, we find true flourishing and fulfillment; when we deviate from that design we find only the opposite. How can we help to "un-hijack" students' vision of what the good life is?

Ask Your Students: What does God's word tell us about living our lives like time might soon be up? (See Ephesians 5:1-21 and James 4:14) What picture does God's word paint for us of the "good life"? Does that seem fulfilling to you? Why or why not?



On Feb. 23, YouTube launched a new kid-focused app, which was described as follows by an article in USA Today:

"YouTube is a repository of clips that range from exceedingly educational to suggestively explicit. So to make sure younger fans of Google's online video library have a more age-appropriate experience, its engineers have come up with a new app called YouTube fare is a booming business on YouTube. Year over year they have seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it's more like 200%."

Though this app may not be for your teenaged students, it says a lot about our culture and how kids are being groomed by it. In the past, TV has functioned as a sort of "babysitter," but we now see YouTube filling that role. By the time kids are in high school, YouTube just might be a full-time teacher for some of your students.

Discussion Questions: What are some ways that technology is changing the landscape of our education? Is this good or bad? Or neither? What does God's word tell us about educating our children? (See Deuteronomy 11:19)


The term is "On Fleek." It comes from a Vine video that went viral and means "on point." People Magazine claims to know the full history of the term. We searched around the Internet to see if "Fleek" meant anything bad and cannot find anything for it. When one of our teams was in Virginia speaking, students confounded a youth leader with the term, and he bet them that Axis Team Members didn't know. Luckily, one did, and he pointed to his eyebrows and said, "These bad boys are on fleek." The students erupted in laughter, and the youth leader was impressed. Bonus: If you tell students that this Vine's tune is based on an actual song by Frank Ocean, they'll be impressed.

We'd love to hear from you if there are any topics that you'd like us to address in future versions of the Culture Translator. Please click here to submit your ideas!