Vol. 3 Issue 12 | March 24, 2017
Three Things This Week
What it is: In case your teens don’t feel insecure enough, now there’s a way for them to be told exactly how they don’t measure up, thanks to the app Spontana.
Why it's harmful: Users upload selfies (probably retouched) for other users to rate on a scale of 1 to 100 for the person’s (un)attractiveness. As this “average” reviewer points out, “It's a shallow, hideous expression of how debased we've become, although it's not as if we haven't been doing this since the beginning of time.” Sure, we fallen humans have been judging others’ outward appearances forever, but not on such a public, permanent, unapologetic platform. Start a conversation with your teens about Spontana before they experience the pain it can cause. It’d also be a good time to mention how, btw, all social media is based on these same concepts, just in a less obvious way.
2. Katy Perry’s Speech
What it is: The Human Rights Campaign honored Katy Perry with their National Equality Award on Saturday. Perry’s acceptance speech about her religious upbringing raised eyebrows among evangelicals and non-believers
Why it's influential: Students don’t just enjoy music; they consider the artists who create it to be friends who “get” them. Katy Perry is no different. In her speech, there were a few truths couched in powerful lies, all of which would be good to dissect with your teens. Here’s one: “Now we’re living our best, most authentic lives.” Being “true to yourself” is arguably the highest virtue for younger generations, but is it really authentic if we’re being true to our fallen selves? When Adam and Eve rebelled against God, we lost touch with our authentic selves (i.e. the way God lovingly, wisely created us to be), and the only way to recover that is through the redemptive power of Christ.
3. Adult Week
What it is: Engadget deemed this week “Adult Week 2017,” with the goal of sharing articles and tips on how “to become an independent and constructive member of society” and “be a better grownup through technology.”
Why it's good: There is no manual for how to successfully navigate our technology-saturated world, so it’s not unusual to suddenly realize we’ve adopted a new innovation without thoughtfully considering the ramifications of doing so. If we adults don’t have a healthy relationship with tech, it’s hard to raise children who do. Take some time to read through the articles (Ed. Note: some profanity; not from a biblical perspective) and figure out which practices would be good to implement for yourself. Or, if you prefer, read them as a family and decide together what habits need to change. We particularly like this one about digital decluttering and this one about slowing down (tweaked to focus on God, rather than “inner peace”).
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Questions > Answers
As parents and educators, we’re conditioned to believe that answers are better than questions, especially when it comes to spiritual formation. We long for our students to believe the right things, so we often tell them what to think, instead of teaching them how to think. But that isn’t education; it’s indoctrination. In fact, the three hardest words for most students to say are, “I don’t know.” Why? Because we’ve taught them that certainty is a virtue and doubt is a sin. However, authentic faith is a journey along the path of unknowing, not hiding behind a fortress of facts that dare not be questioned. Here are five ways questions are more powerful than answers when it comes to helping your students possess and maintain lifelong faith and wisdom.
1. Questions foster self education. They spark self-motivated learning. When our students come to their own convictions, nobody can take what they’ve learned away.
2. Questions cultivate humility. “When you know enough to know that you don’t know, that’s spiritual knowing.”
3. Questions necessitate respect. Questions communicate to our students that we care what they think, how they think, and that we recognize their ability to come to their own conclusions.
4. Questions lead to lifelong learning. Questions help our teens learn how to learn, as well as foster ongoing, voluntary engagement with ideas and information, helping them see that their entire lives are educational.
5. Questions start conversations, not end them. They offer an invitation to dig deeper together, and remind ourselves that in our pursuit of God, we are joining an ancient conversation about Him.
Teenagers don’t want superficial answers to their tough questions about Christianity. “Just when they’re capable of diving into the deep end of their faith, all too often the church keeps them splashing around in shallow waters.” As Sir Francis Bacon said, “who questions much shall learn much and retain much.”
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