Vol. 4 Issue 16 | April 20, 2018
Three Things This Week
1. Starbucks Says Sorry
What it is: A Philadelphia barista called the police to report two black men sitting alone in her Starbucks. Their crime? Not ordering anything.
Why it’s a start: Sadly, racial profiling isn’t new. “Shopping while black” or “retail racism” have plagued African Americans for decades, but the response to this misdeed is. Starbucks Executive Chairman offered a sincere apology to both men: “There’s no doubt in mind that the reason they (the police) were called was because they were African American…I’m embarrassed by that, I’m ashamed of that.” In a culture where politicians and celebrities rarely admit wrong-doing, it’s encouraging to see someone say ‘I’m sorry.” If your teen has difficulty apologizing, remind them that confession doesn’t equate to inferiority, unworthiness, or groveling, it is the freeing and oddly empowering act of recognizing wrongs and caring enough about their friends and enemies to seek reconciliation.
2. God of War
What it is: The latest installment in the PS4 video-game franchise sees demigod Kratos leading his son through the dangerous realm of Norse gods and ancient monsters.
Why it’s different: Releasing today, critics are already raving about this “spectacular game with epic set pieces.” Past versions glamorized broken masculinity: sexual promiscuity, violence, and rage. But the game is maturing with its audience. It’s still violent, yet this release calls players to a higher standard of masculinity by introducing responsibility, restraint, and discipline. “Parenting is a topic that games don’t generally address, but God of War tackles the subject with a deliberate and careful approach” as the vengeful Kratos seeks to raise his sensitive son. Use the game to start conversations with your son and daughter about masculinity. Is there room for tenderness, creativity, inner strength, and service in our views of masculinity or have those virtues been diminished by a culturally conditioned version of manliness?
3. Degree in 3
What it is: Colleges and universities are now offering accelerated degrees for money-conscious students seeking the fast-track to employment.
Why it’s a potential shortcut: Nearly 20% of Lynn University students are on the three-year graduation program. But is this trend a good idea? Sure, if your view of education is merely job prep. Modern education is transactional, something between the child’s brain and job placement. But what if it’s more? “Look on education as something between the child’s soul and God.” Help your children see that the culmination of education is the lifelong pursuit of wisdom, wonder, truth, and beauty that leads them into a deeper intimacy with God, God’s world, and our fellow human beings. Education is therefore a life sustained on ideas, and those ideas are of spiritual origin. “The duty of parents is to sustain a child’s inner life with ideas as they sustain her body with food.”
And The Pulitzer Prize Goes To…
In an unprecedented move, Kendrick Lamar won the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his album, DAMN., becoming the first hip-hop artist to receive the high-minded award. One of the jurors behind the controversial decision said, “The criteria (for choosing the prize) is just that it has to be deemed an excellent accomplishment, an excellent artistic accomplishment.” But, can Kendrick’s music be defined as art and how does the form and function of a cultural artifact determine its artistic value?
Real art is beautiful, redemptive, universal, and true while most of pop culture is banal, broken, abnormal, and deceptive. Unlike art, mere entertainment is anesthetizing, keeping us in a constant state of distraction leaving precious room for compassion, empathy, or action. Art mitigates the numbing effect of mass entertainment by awakening our feelings and moving us emotionally. “Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.”
DAMN. is definitely disturbing, and it’s certainly gut-wrenching. “Where some rappers look in the mirror and see playboy-gangsters, Lamar sees a sinner, tormented by his success and by his responsibility to those less fortunate than he is.” However, both the “themes and language of Kendrick’s body of work pose particular challenges to Christian listeners.” The ease at which he moves from sacred to profane, depraved to saved can be a real stumbling block. And while Kendrick’s lyrics function to move us to action, his form may lack a deep sense of beauty and redemption. If your teen listens to Lamar, ask them if they think his music is art or entertainment, and if they believe the album is worthy of a Pulitzer Prize. Why or why not?
Today is 4/20, or “Weed Day” since the date corresponds with the numerical code for marijuana. It’s likely your teens have already been exposed to conversations or activities today centered on drug use. Help them remember that just because a drug is legal in some cases, it doesn’t make it safe. Better yet, click here to watch our Conversation Kit on Drugs, which includes a feature presentation by the Axis team, a lecture with Dr. Jonathan Pettigrew (Arizona State University), and expert interviews on drug use and prevention. Today’s a perfect time to start this much needed conversation with your kids!
13 PREMIUM INSIGHTS
They said it best:
1. “There is no news.”
–The BBC on April 18th, 8:45 pm 1930. Times have certainly changed, especially the idea of news. Since this week included the 18th, we have an offer for you: for there to be “no news” for you. We’ve written the rest of this newsletter, but we invite you to not read it. We’ve done our best, but this might not be the “news” you need. Perhaps the real news will come from talking to your teen, a neighbor, or an old friend. Go ahead and close this email now and let the rest of the day be a “no news” day courtesy of the BBC 88 years ago.
2. VR gaming is still in its infancy and the latest game to be released is showing off even more of the way that this immersive technology could be pushed. Do the gamers in your house think VR is exciting tech or more flash than substance?
3. Technology is amazing. Take mapping apps. We can see the world in ways never even imagined. But our tools can also shape how we act. And map app routing software can make us even more selfish, improving our travel times but making things worse for everyone overall. What are some technologies that your teens think have made them better? Which ones have made them act worse?
4. Plenty of school administrators are leary of technologies’ promises for one significant part of students’ school experience: college entrance exams. Lots of districts still choose to use paper and pencil even though computer based options are available. Question to think about or ask students: what are some other areas where new technology might not be as effective as older technology or no technology at all?
5. Also since we’re talking about new technology, what do your teens think about a future where cameras with AI can identify you and track you all by themselves and then alert authorities to your location? That future is now in China. It makes us wonder if people are reading enough science fiction books? These kinds of scenarios always work out poorly.
6. The subject of this article is Facebook but it’s actually about a wider change coming due to new European regulations about privacy. In light of Facebook’s recent data scandal and the new regulations out of Europe, now could be an good time to get your teens take on privacy in the age of social media and what they think of regulating the internet and even how international laws could shape their experience online. The internet is an interconnected network, but the countries that it runs through are not. As new laws come up it could lead to a fragmentation of the internet. Things to consider for teens as they grow and begin to shape policies surrounding this important resource.
7. Verizon released a new version of its parental control app and it now includes location tracking. These kind of tools are great, but as our Parent’s Guide to Internet Filtering and Monitoring puts it, these tools are best thought of as a “first line of defense”. Teaching and relationship are the best strategies to give teens long term plans for safely using the internet.
8. We have a lot of stuff! In fact there is a $38 billion industry just to store it. To us that’s mind boggling! Younger generations tend to prefer experiences to things. Have you ever talked with your teens about why they think this is? Do they still have a lot of stuff?
9. One side effect of all of our stuff is that a lot of it generates tons of plastic waste. It’s a problem. A happy accident means we may soon have better tools for dealing with plastic waste. Do your teens think this is the best solution? Or do they think we have a responsibility to find alternatives and use resources better? Why?
10. A similar theme for them to think about as the form a vision for how they hope to shape the future: what do they think about product obsolescence? For example, one journalist is complaining about how a set of of Airplay speakers he has no longer offer the same level of functionality as they did when new. Is it even possible to build things to last anymore? What do your teens think about the economic implications?
11. Healthcare. It’s a big debate but what gets missed in all the discussion about cost is discussion of the actual care. It’s fraught on both sides, for patients and doctors. One big problem contributing to this is time. When the focus is on profits, time for care gets cut. But the above article mentions a counter philosophy, slow medicine. Slowing down means building relationships. But going slower often means less money. Some teens will begin pursuing this career in a few years. What kind of monetary sacrifice would they make to provide better care?
12. Dress codes. They are tricky to navigate. A lot of teens are pushing back against old standards citing things like equality, objectification, and sexism. The most recent viral protest was a “bracott” after a teen posted about her ordeal on Twitter. What do you teens think about dress codes? What would they change about them? How does modesty play into all of it?
Tip of the Week
13. O God, whose blessed Son made himself known to his disciples in the breaking of bread: Open the eyes of our faith, that we may behold him in all his redeeming work; who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
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