Vol. 4 Issue 17 | April 27, 2018
Three Things This Week
What it is: The popular Swedish EDM artist and DJ, best known for “Wake Me Up,” was found dead last week at the age of 28.
Why it’s heartbreaking: A recent statement from his family seems to imply suicide as the cause, explaining that “he really struggled with thoughts about Meaning, Life, Happiness. He could not go on any longer.” Many have speculated that the pressure and stress of the music industry took its toll, with his family even remarking that he “was not made for the business machine he found himself in; he was a sensitive guy who loved his fans but shunned the spotlight.” He even retired from touring in 2016 due to stress and anxiety. A prominent suicide like this will bring up difficult emotions and questions in teens (especially fans)—a great time for caring adults to be there, allow them to process verbally without restraint, and be willing to talk about their questions.
Why it’s a band-aid: Reeling from academic fraud cases and an ongoing FBI investigation centered on shoe companies paying players, college hoops is a mess. The suggested changes include stiffer penalties for cheating coaches, eliminating the one-and-done rule, and cleaning up summer league programs. What the commission failed to address is what many believe to be the heart of the issue: amateurism. Both the NCAA and college universities are making billions in this business, so should the players get a portion of the profits? Olympians receive endorsements, elite baseball prospects get drafted, so why shouldn’t Marvin Bagley get paid? What are the ethical implications of a system that some say takes advantage of under-privileged kids without giving them their market value?
3. Nice for What
What it is: Drake’s newest single, currently sitting atop the charts, that celebrates and empowers hard-working women.
Why it’s mixed: With lyrics (language) like, “You know dark days, you know hard times / Doin overtime for the last month / Saturday, call the girls, get ’em gassed up,” the central message to women is, “You work hard. You deserve to take time just to have fun with your friends.” And in a workaholic culture, taking time for sabbath rest is vital. However, there’s also an implicit message in lyrics like, “And you showin off, but it’s alright / It’s a short life,” which is that if you work hard, you should be able to blow off steam, leading scores of students to “study hard and drink harder”. Research shows that individuals who overwork also binge drink. How can you help your teen balance life, work, and play without resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms?
Starbucks Is Sorry, We’re Sorrowful
In last week’s Culture Translator, we highlighted the troubling story of two African American men arrested at a Philadelphia Starbucks for meeting at the store without making a purchase. Depending on which news source you watch, the barista was either simply doing her job, or the men were victims of racial profiling. We admit our inability to know the motivations of those involved. We also admit how terribly challenging it is to talk about racial issues. And for that, we are sorrowful.
We’re sorry to live in a world where almost every issue is divided along party lines, where we choose which side to believe based not only on the colors black and white, but red and blue. We’re sorry the body of Christ still struggles with racism. We’re sorry our children are growing up in a polarized society. We’re sorry we settle for this “either/or” existence. We’re sorry that we do it, too.
Thankfully, Jesus debunks this binary worldview that wants to split everything into false dichotomies. Instead, He models a third way. For instance, when presented with the polarities of either stoning or setting free the woman caught in adultery, He says “Let the one among you who is without sin cast the first stone”. He refuses to play the world’s game. In His life and teaching, He consistently broke down racial, religious, and social barriers by befriending tax collectors, eating with sinners, touching lepers, loving Samaritans, and talking to promiscuous women in public. He was scandalously inclusive, and the religious elite hated Him for it.
Our prayer for all of us is that we grow beyond this polarized world and join Jesus on the road to transformation. It means loving the barista and the black men. It means building bridges instead of building walls. Thanks for joining us on this journey as we encourage one another to choose love instead of hostility.
Gary Alan & Melanie
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