Vol. 4 Issue 18 | May 4, 2018
Three Things This Week
Why it's divisive: We probably all have strong feelings about this, and we’ve probably made them clear to those closest to us, including our teens/students. But what do your kids think? Do they even care? Gen Z has “a highly inclusive and highly individualistic worldview and moral code,” thanks to knowing and relating to many who don’t fit into traditional molds. But their perspective shouldn’t scare us; in fact, it can open the door for constructive conversation that challenges both our views and theirs. Read their announcement together, then have a conversation about what you and they honestly think about BSA’s decision. (And, if they simply parrot what you’ve said, play devil’s advocate to challenge their assumptions!)
2. 13 Reasons Why
What it is: This week, Netflix revealed the release date for season 2: May 18.
Why it's helpful?: The new season will reignite the conversation between Christian teens and their parents about whether they can watch it. The show deals with weighty topics, like suicide and sexual assault, and season 1 was criticized for “glorifying” suicide, which prompted a study of how viewers responded to the show. Some key findings were that adolescents and young adults felt it was beneficial for them to watch (72%), that teens and adults alike felt the show helped them understand hard topics like bullying and depression, and that adolescents felt the graphic nature of the show was necessary to depict how painful suicide is (67%). This reflects the sentiment we’ve heard many teens express: Life is rarely “rated G” or “safe,” so why should our media be? Exposure for exposure’s sake is one thing; exposure in order to educate, make aware, and incite conversation and growth is another. So if you decide to let the your teens watch it, watch it with them and guide their conversation about these real life issues.
Tip: Our Suicide Conversation Kit can really help with this discussion as it deals specifically with season 1 of 13RW!
What it is: If you have a gamer in the house, you might’ve heard them talk about Discord, a voice- and text-chat app for gamers.
Why it's popular: Unlike alternatives like Skype, Discord is focused solely on gamers and is available via browser and mobile app, making it easy for PC gamers especially to talk while they play. Because it’s built around gaming, it probably won’t gain mainstream attention, but it’s quickly being adopted by the gaming community due to its price (free) and its multi-platform availability. Though it comes with many controls, users easily can (and do) share inappropriate material via private chat, making this an app to keep track of and to carefully consider what age is appropriate to begin using it. (“A Parent’s Guide to Discord,” with more analysis of its pros and cons, coming next week!)
Infinity War, Eternal Life?
After 18 films and 10 years of build up, Avengers: Infinity War released last week to an impressive 92% audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes. All the battles, all the losses, all the victories—everything has been leading up to this. And fans have kept up every step of the way, waiting to see what happens when the superheroes finally meet their ultimate foe, Thanos. And this time, the ending doesn’t tie everything up into a nice little bow (at least, not until Avengers 4).
For those who aren’t fans, it’s easy to ignore yet another Marvel film, but doing so would be a detriment to our efforts to reach and disciple others. Why? Well, partially because the film actually opens up many conversations about and parallels to the Gospel. But also, and perhaps more importantly, because part of being a Culture Translator is speaking our audience’s language, and we do that by paying attention to and showing interest in what they care about.
No matter the age of the person you’re trying to reach/disciple, effortlessly relating their questions, doubts, or struggles to something they understand and connect with will be more compelling than not.
For example, starting a conversation about who God is can be awkward: “Hey, how have you been? Not good? Well, let’s talk about who is good! . . .” Eh, no. But notice that we said “effortlessly.” Saying, “Did you notice how God is so much better than any of the superheroes in Infinity War?” is just as cheesy.
The best goes something like this: “Did you see Infinity War? Oh man, what’d you think of Thanos? . . .” After discussing Thanos and his idea of mercy, it’s not a far leap to discuss who was willing to sacrifice what then allow that to lead into ultimate sacrifice and how what Jesus did for us is without comparison in all of history or literature. Doing it this way also simply gets them thinking about a dimension they hadn’t yet thought of, without forcing them into an awkward conversation they’d rather get out of.
So if your kids or students are talking about the film or dying to see it, use it as an opportunity to enter their world while still compelling them to go beyond and think more deeply (even if you haven’t kept up, you can still have great conversations after seeing this one).
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