Vol. 2 Issue 9 | March 4, 2016
Three Things This Week
1. The Oscars
What It Is: The 88th Academy Awards aired on Sunday, amidst much controversy.
Why It’s Important: The Oscars aren’t immune to the low-viewership epidemic, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have an impact on younger generations. Students no longer have to endure 4+ hours of speeches, commercials, and lame jokes to find the few buzzworthy moments. They simply hop online. Want to see the best and worst dresses? Buzzfeed is handier. Want to hear what people think about Chris Rock’s monologue? Twitter is funnier. Want to know how many times Mad Max won? Google is quicker. For your students, the screens in their pockets trump the small screen, and the Internet hype about an event may be much more influential than the event itself.
2. Downton Abbey
What It Is: The final episode in the most-viewed public TV series in the US airs on Sunday.
Why It’s Important:To commemorate the momentous (and sad) occasion, we went back through every transcript of each episode and counted: During the series’ approx. 3,030 minutes on air, some form of the word “happy” was used 314 times (forms of “unhappy” appeared 32 times). That’s once every 8 minutes or 5 times an episode. Despite its positive aspects, underlying Downton’s narrative is the idea that fulfillment comes through happiness, which is a great conversation starter about true fulfillment, joy, and the purpose of life.
3. Chick-fil-A vs. McDonald’s
What It Is: 150+ Chick-fil-a locations are offering free ice cream to families that ignore their devices for their entire meal by putting them in provided “cell phone coops.” Meanwhile, McDonald’s is taking the opposite approach by making Happy Meal boxes that turn into VR for kids.
Why It’s Important: All smartphone owners feel the tension between knowing we should put our devices away and the compulsion to constantly know what’s going on, forcing us to choose between being informed and being present. This is a great conversation starter to encourage device-free dinner time and maybe even break the addictive cycle of checking in! Plus, you get free ice cream to boot. Win-win. Idea: Implement a similar “coop”/box at home!
*Bonus* Worth the read:
How Snapchat Built a Business by Confusing Olds
House of Cards
On Friday, Netflix released the fourth season of its critically acclaimed show House of Cards. The modern-day political drama follows anti-hero Frank Underwood as he continues to leverage his power for selfish gain, revealing the underbelly of the Beltway. The show brings politics to the forefront of entertainment—a storyline hitting uncomfortably close to home as of late. The death of a Supreme Court Justice, a monumental abortion case, and the impending 2016 Presidential election have made for a tense political atmosphere in the United States. And due to social media, students often find out about political events before adults do. So how do you discuss political issues in the classroom or around the dinner table from a Christian perspective?
First, prepare yourself by researching the topics and articulating your own viewpoint. Second, elicit questions from your students about issues, and be prepared to facilitate meaningful conversations. After all, elections are meant to encourage citizens to engage in public discourse about the common good. And third, while it’s easy for students to become cynical about politics, help them remember that, as Christians, our hope is not embodied in our favorite political candidate. The results from Super Tuesday should not bring ultimate fear or definitive optimism.The hope of the world is Jesus Christ. When the first-century church publicly proclaimed Jesus was Lord, they meant Caesar was not. What a political statement!
John Milton coined the phrase “house of cards” in 1641, illustrating that while morally reckless structures might look sturdy on the outside, they are really quite flimsy and threaten to come down on the heads of their builders—wise words to remember when we are tempted to place our trust in systems that are not eternal. Our hope for human flourishing is firmly planted in the knowledge that God is bringing His Kingdom to fulfillment on earth as it now is in heaven. Help your students understand that one of their greatest political actions might simply be to fear God and keep His commandments.