Vol. 3 Issue 10 | March 10, 2017
Three Things This Week
1. Total Entertainment Forever
Why it’s important: It’s a scathing commentary on modern society’s insatiable appetite for entertainment and technological innovation, as well as how our “advancements” have really gotten us nowhere. Take some time to read through the lyrics and commentary with your older students. (Ed. Note: The opening line is about using VR to “bed” Taylor Swift.) Ask them whether they agree or disagree with his conclusions. Do they see any hope? How have they felt some of this in their own lives? Do they think the benefits of modern tech outweigh its drawbacks? Why or why not? Finally, ask them if there is something about their own technology/media use they wish they could change but haven’t been able to?
What it is: A new game for 8- to 12-year-olds with over 44 million users. The game allows children to “create adventures, play games, role play, and learn with their friends.”
Why it’s dangerous: Sounds innocent, right? As one dad quickly discovered when checking it out, the chat feature opens the door for predators to approach anyone and ask for virtual sexual favors. In fact, even without the chat feature, it’s possible to use one’s avatar to demonstrate sexual positions and acts. Many pre-adolescent children do not have the developmental discernment to understand these dangers, believing they are only engaging with classmates their own age. Protect them by deleting this game from all devices.
3. #IWD2017 vs. Marines Scandal
What it is: March 8 marked International Women’s Day, a day for celebrating women and fighting for their equality across the globe. It comes just two days after news broke of a nude-photo scandal in the Marines, with photos of female Marines posted online without their knowledge or permission.
Why it’s important: The timing of these two events is disheartening. Yet it allows us to strengthen our resolve, as parents, teachers, and faith leaders, to raise a generation who will not sexually exploit or view others only as objects for sexual gratification. In this specific instance, what exactly would it look like to defend the marginalized and exploited from a biblical perspective? Yes, there were multiple men who acted despicably and possibly hundreds more who did nothing to stop it, but there were also many who spoke up. Every human being deserves basic dignity, and it’s our job to disciple the next generation to fully comprehend “that silence is consent” (Ed. Note: The linked article includes some of the vulgar social media comments on the photos) and that the only thing necessary for evil to prosper is “for good men to do nothing.”
The Culture Translator team is hosting several live trainings this year! Join us for an intense, two-hour training as we equip you to understand the major cultural trends shaping your student’s minds and hearts in 2017. Find out more here!
Ed Sheeran’s Divide: A recycled set of temporary highs
Music icon Ed Sheeran is famous for his love ballads. His new album Divide continues that theme. Yet if anything, Sheeran is now more honest and raw about his childhood experiences (“Fifteen years old and smoking hand-rolled cigarettes, running from the law through the backfields and getting drunk with my friends”), while still holding true to his need for relationship.
Every album has a theme or concept that links the songs together in a seamless thread. The backdrop for Divide is a drunken, adventurous night with a significant other. Songs like “Galway Girl” (“Our coats both smell of smoke, whisky, and wine, as we fill up our lungs with the cold air of the night”) and “Barcelona” (“I fell in love with the sparkle in the moonlight..I guess that is destiny doing it right”) echo this theme perfectly. When he’s not having fun amidst the chaos of nightlife, he’s reflecting upon true love: “And I could live, I could die..Hanging on the words you say” (“Dive”). Brief moments of romantic tension do grace the album, sometimes even comedically (“Your new man rents a house in the ‘burb, and wears a man bag on his shoulder, but I call it a purse”), yet all in all, the album is a set of late-night, enabling anthems for inebriated lovers.
But what about the morning after? Sheeran’s remedy is more of the same: temporary escape (“I’ll find comfort in my pain eraser” and “I drown it with a drink and out-of-date prescription pills”). Students are captivated by the thought of a night out with their significant other, a night, by Sheeran’s standards, they may well never remember. Divide promotes a recycled worldview that continues to drive the music industry: that pleasure and temporary escape from the ordinariness of life through sex, drugs, or alcohol is the pinnacle of pleasure and happiness. Instead of escaping the ordinary, encourage your students to recognize the goodness and pleasure found every day in normal life. Because according to author Julie Canlis, our ordinary lives are the real place where truth, beauty, and joy are lived out.
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