Vol. 2 Issue 16 | April 22, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. Binge Your Eyes Out
Why it’s important: Streaming services and autoplay features have made bingeing a thing. And as this author points out, “it’s taking up crazy amounts of our days.” With more people admitting to bingeing and fewer people knowing when to stop, clearly we need help. Yet a quick Google search about binge-watching vs. stewarding our time wisely yields few results. But finding wisdom is not impossible and includes asking good questions (Is it ever okay? Is binge-watching creating other impulsive activities in your life? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How do you feel after binge-watching?), developing a biblical perspective of time, and modeling the behavior/values you want your children to have.
2. The Final Frontier
Why it’s important: Interestingly, after AMC’s CEO said he was open to allowing texting in some theaters because “when you tell a 22-year-old to turn off their phone…they hear, ‘Please cut off your left arm above the elbow,’” social media exploded with negative reactions, causing him to quickly backpedal. “NO TEXTING AT AMC. Won’t happen,” said AMC’s official Twitter. Still, why aren’t we just as concerned that our faces can still be glued to our screens even when we’re showering?! Creating phone-free spaces and times is crucial in preventing addiction and fostering healthy technology habits. Here’s a practical tip for your family, the next time you are eating together, have everyone place their phones face down in a stack at the center of the table, the first one who grabs their phone has to do the dishes!
3. How to Stay Involved in Your Child’s Online Life
Why it’s good: “Though your child can likely navigate a touch screen better than you can, this doesn’t equate to Internet street smarts.” When it comes to answering the phone, taking candy from strangers, or crossing the road, we know children need guidance. The Internet is no different, but because we’re overwhelmed by its continuous changes, we often don’t talk about it, thereby allowing others to disciple them for better or for worse (as evidenced by these two recent cases of teen sexting). These 7 tips are a great starting point for reclaiming our role as disciplers and protectors.
Album Review: The Life of Pablo
In February, Kanye described his then-upcoming album, The Life of Pablo, as “a gospel album with a whole lot of cursing on it.” This month saw its widespread release, with five songs subsequently appearing on the Billboard Hot 100, which means The Life of Pablo now has students’ attention.
Kanye’s high opinion of himself and his work is no secret (one track is aptly named “I Love Kanye.”) So if he claims he has written a gospel album, we should ask, “What does ‘gospel’ mean to Kanye?” Unfortunately, as The A.V. Club puts it, the album “really only works as a gospel record if, as a listener, you worship at [Kanye’s] altar.” Almost every reference to anything gospel-esque is closely followed by lyrics that could be labeled pornographic. It seems Kanye wants the benefits of Christianity without the high call of holiness and obedience. The Life of Pablo doesn’t sound much like the gospel at all, in fact it sounds a lot like the exact opposite.
Through Axis’ live events, we’ve actually seen peer pressure in Christian schools where Christian students are encouraging other Christian students not to take their faith so seriously. Many students prefer the complacency of sin because it allows them to fit in better than being set apart through holiness. All of this has its root in a kind of pride that elevates self over God, but at the heart of Pablo, on songs like “FML,” “Real Friends,” and “Wolves,” we see the fruit of this kind of self-pursuit: Kanye feels isolated, taken advantage of, and afraid. In his version of the gospel, self-love leads to self destruction.
In a world that emphasizes pride and self-assertion, the secret of Christianity is this: When we are meek, we find liberation. When we give, we find plenty. When we pursue holiness, we find freedom. Such a person no longer has to worry about maintaining their status or image before mankind, because they know, as Kirk Franklin prays in Pablo’s opening track, “you can never go too far where you can’t come back home again.” Obviously God’s grace can and would cover everything Kanye raps about. But God also calls us out of that lifestyle (even out of fantasizing about it) and into a lifestyle of truth, beauty, and goodness.
Ask your students: What does true holiness look like? When it comes to music, is there a difference between prescriptive lyrics and descriptive lyrics? Is that difference important? Is it possible for us to be influenced equally by both?