Vol. 3 Issue 15 | April 14, 2017
Three Things This Week
1. Teens Rule the Web
Why it’s important: Smartphones are the “new frontier of attention harvesting”. Our phones consume experiences before we do. The average student gets a phone between 12 and 13 and 70% of them admit to hiding their online behavior from their parents. Smartphones encourage students to live in the world of now, and many do not realize how their web presence might impact their future. Ask your teens if they ever think about how what they post today might impact their future relationships, college admission, and employment.
2. The Handmaid’s Tale
What it is: Hulu’s adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 chilling novel about a concubine in a futuristic, theocratic America ruled by totalitarianism, misogyny, and oppression.
Why it’s important: Streaming April 26, this modern cautionary tale will put Hulu on the map and is another reminder of the prowess and independence of streaming platforms. Staring Mad Men alum Elizabeth Moss, Indiewire calls the series “the scariest show ever made, because it feels so real.” Even Atwood admitted that one of her rules was she wouldn’t “put anything into the novel that human beings hadn’t actually done.” That is scary. Ask your students if they believe The Handmaid’s Tale is relevant in today’s cultural climate, and if so, why?
3. 13 Reasons Why
What it is: An explicit, convicting show about a young girl (Hannah Baker) who commits suicide and the graphic thirteen reasons why.
Why it’s important: “There is nothing about this story that is polite”. The writers wanted to “tell a story that’s going to start a conversation” about bullying, depression, sexual assault, slut shaming, and ultimately suicide. Frankly, the show is shocking, but it reminds us that teenage brains don’t function like adult brains, and that for our students “trauma and pain feel like they are going to last forever”. But can the show do more harm than good? Teens are prone to suicide contagion and research shows that sensational portrayals of suicide can increase risk among viewers. If your son or daughter is watching, we highly recommend you watch the show with them and ask “Has any of this ever happened to you”? Odds are the answer will be “yes”. Here’s an educational guide to teen depression as well as pro-active steps you can take to start conversations with them about these issues.(quotes are from the show’s bonus content)
The Scandal of The Cross
German theologian Jurgen Moltmann controversially claimed, “the cross is not and cannot be loved.” As Christians conditioned to sing of “the wonderful cross” his comments are, at first glance, quite disturbing. Yet in the ancient world, it was scandalous to even mention the cross in good company, and it became “a stumbling block for Jews, and foolishness to the Greeks.” Roman crucifixion was so heinous that often there was no body even left to bury, as dogs and scavenger birds picked apart the final remains of the dead. Yet we’ve made the cross almost tolerable by turning it into a theory of atonement. Hegel defined the cross as “God is dead”. It seems part of our role as modern Christians is to restore the apparent hopelessness of Good Friday back into the Christian tradition. Only then can we fully comprehend that our faith begins where atheists believe it comes to an end.
Help your students resist the temptation to rush past Golgotha en route to the empty tomb. Ask them anew, if Jesus is the exact representation of God, and if the cross is the definitive revelation of God, then what kind of God does the cross reveal? As Moltmann reminds us, radical Christian faith means “committing oneself without reserve to the ‘crucified God‘.”
Here are five resources you can read with your students to help them fully comprehend the magnitude of Christ’s cross this Holy Week:
1. Saving the World, Revealing the Glory by N.T. Wright.
2. What is Handing Over: Maundy Thursday, Memory & the Gospel by Richard Hays.
3. The Crucified God by Jurgen Moltmann.
4. What Does This Mean by Brian Zahnd.
5. The Goodness of Good Friday by Chris Armstrong.