Issue 29 | August 28, 2015

Issue 29 | August 28, 2015



What it is: Halsey, 20, released her debut album Badlands today.

How it’s good: Amazing vocals, catchy tunes. Will probably be appealing to pop lovers, as well as indie fans (think Lana Del Rey or Tove Lo).

How it’s bad: She's redefining what's normal. She sings about what she knows: drugs, sexuality (warning: language!), bisexuality (there are 2 versions of one of her music videos, 1 of her with a guy, and 1 of her with a girl), and wrestling with her demons.



What it is: A former reporter opened fire on his ex-colleagues during a live interview in Virginia this week, injuring one and killing two. He later shot and killed himself.

Why it's important: In a long fax sent to the TV station, he said that the shooting in Charleston was the final straw of years of frustration due to alleged racism. He also took to social media to broadcast the shooting from his own camera and to make accusations. This is a great opportunity for discussion with students about racism, violence, and social justice, as well as giving examples of people throughout history who successfully conquered injustice through nonviolent means.



What it is: A video by @CobyPersin showing real teenage girls (ages 12, 13, and 14) meeting up with a stranger whom they “met” on Facebook. 36+ million views in 18 days.

How it’s good: Not a real creeper! The video creator brings their parents with him when he picks them up to demonstrate the dangers of meeting a Facebook “friend” in real life. No teen is immune to social pressure, and it’s a great opportunity to have discussions with teens (and younger kids!) about the dangers of digital identities. Although a utilitarian experiment at the expense of these three poor (and apparently judgement-lacking) girls, this video could serve as a huge tool to discourage this type of behavior in millions of other teens.

How it’s bad: The parents are obviously scared for their daughters, but they all react with anger and yell at their girls.


Last August, Christian singer/songwriter Vicky Beeching announced to the world that she is gay. The myriad of reactions in both Christian and non-Christian spheres were predictably varied and emotionally charged. Known for songs like "Glory to God Forever" and "Above All Else,” Beeching's declaration that the church needs to reconsider its doctrine on homosexuality left many reeling and confused. Now, a year later in an interview on Buzzfeed (worth the entire read!), she reflects on her decision to come out and how her life has changed as a result.

One notable musing she offers is that coming out "feels like coming to life, like being 100% human." Of course, after approximately 22 years of hiding one's sexual orientation, this seems like a reasonable response. However, it begs many questions, like: Is this what it means to be 100% human? Is "being true" to our sexual orientations what it means to truly live? And is "being true to ourselves" a biblical concept?

These are questions we must all wrestle with, yet there is an alarming lack of informed, respectful discussion within the Church. In order to help you and your students better think through these difficult topics, we've created some resources, including Expert Interviews, Whiteboard Sessions, Discussion Guides, and a Feature Presentation, on the topics of gender and sexual identity. These resources are part of a monthly subscription to Axis Virtual, which you can learn more about here.

Discussion Questions

First, consider the questions two paragraphs above about the biblical and human nature of this. Then consider: How have we, as a church/school/family, been “more concerned about doctrine than about people”? How should we react (in person and online) to people who have different doctrines and/or lifestyles? Is social media the best way to change the problems we see in the world? Why or why not? If not, what can we do instead?


“I've been asked in interviews, actually, ‘What is your guilty pleasure?’ and ‘What do you listen to that you wish no one else would know about?’ And I always think that's such a strange thing—because if it gives me pleasure, I'm never going to feel guilty for it.”

Carly Rae Jepsen