Vol. 4 Issue 24 | June 15, 2018
Something special for you this edition…The Culture Translator Premium is the most in-depth pop cultural analysis you can get from The CT team. More than just the top three to four items impacting your teen’s world, this comprehensive publication immerses you in the trending topics, ideas, and movements shaping your teen’s mind and heart this week.
Three Things This Week
1. Father’s Day
What is it: Sunday, June 17 is Father’s Day in the US.
Why it’s awesome: First, we want to thank all the fathers and mothers who read this email and work tirelessly day in and day out to disciple their kids and raise them to be the hands and feet of Jesus. We know it’s not easy. Second, we know that all parents could use a little help, but it seems like help for moms abounds on the internet, while help for dads is much more sparse. This Father’s Day, we’d like to offer two sites that we’ve found extremely insightful and well-rounded:
1. Dadcraft, a website dedicated to helping you “refine and develop your most important craft—how you father”
2. The Good Men Project, a website that “explore[s] the world of men and manhood . . . tackling the issues and questions that are most relevant to men’s lives.”
We hope they’re an encouragement to you, too!
What it is: Snapchat is opening its app to outside developers, meaning other apps can bring Snap’s features like Bitmoji and Stories into their platforms.
Why it’s enticing: Tech gurus are calling this the “un-Facebook platform” The strategy is intended to spur growth by instilling confidence in their privacy policies. “At a time when distrust for the massive social network is at an all-time high…Snap can now offer up its own privacy-conscious alternative to developers and users.” Years ago, Facebook used a similar strategy to become the social media app with eyes peering into everyone’s lives. But skeptical teens can now look to Snapchat for a privacy-safe way to use other apps without having to create a new username and password. As if they needed another reason to never stop using Snapchat, amiright?!
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Why it’s reciprocal: By filling out our super short survey, you let us know what topics are important to you and your family so that we can spend our time researching the things that matter most to you. Your feedback will help us improve not only The Culture Translator and The Culture Translator Premium, but also many of the other products we make. It will only take 3 minutes or fewer to complete, so fill it out now!
E3, Ninja, and Fortnite
The Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3)—which is “basically New York Fashion Week for the joystick crowd”——happened this week. That means that the gamers in your home were paying attention to (and are already jonesing for) all the new games, tournaments, esports, and consoles that were announced/teased. There are many different niches of the video game world, each with its own culture and interests, so it’s hard to keep up with all the haps at E3 (this site has lots of news, in case we don’t cover what your gamer is in to). But here are the biggest things to know about.
1. Ninja and Marshmello made millions for charity…
…by winning the first-ever official Fortnite: Battle Royale esports event. YouTubers, streamers, celebs, athletes, and musicians teamed up to play this massively popular game (125 million players and counting…) and earn money for charity. The impressive roster garnered the attention of millions, so it seemed like a good time to announce the…
2. Fortnite World Cup.
That’s right, Epic Games has put up $100 million in prize money for their 2018-2019 competitive season, which will culminate in the World Cup. Even more importantly, qualification for the World Cup will be based on merit (no e-leagues or franchises here!), meaning anyone can participate, so if your gamer hasn’t already, he/she may start begging you to “practice” a lot more and enter tournaments.
3. Gaming in the cloud.
Microsoft confirmed it’s working on the next Xbox and that, instead of downloading/installing games to the console, games will stream from the cloud. This is still a ways away, but it means that more games will be available more readily on more devices (i.e. never stop gaming!), and it means that a high-speed internet connection will be even more important.
4. Video games are as diverse and budget-heavy as other mediums.
The newest trailer for the mysterious Death Stranding shows how involved, intricate, story-based, and important video games have become in our culture. They’re no longer a fringe activity. This list shows how many games were announced, a number that’s only going to increase with each passing year.
5. Minecraft: Story Mode on… Netflix
That’s right, Netflix is adding more “interactive narrative storytelling” via a 5-episode Minecraft story that lets viewers decide how the story unfolds. In fact, this represents Netflix’s new strategy (as evidenced by this job posting) to pursue video games “to help promote our titles so they become part of the zeitgeist for longer periods of time and we want to use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand.” So expect the lines between TV, films, and video games to continue to blur as the demand for each increases.
As you can see, Fortnite was possibly the big winner of E3, and there is a ton to keep up with in the gaming world these days. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, our brand new “Parent’s Guide to Video Games” and “Parent’s Guide to Fortnite” may help! Check them out here.
16 PREMIUM INSIGHTS
A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.
They said it best:
1. “The greatest single cause of atheism in the world today is Christians: who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, walk out the door, and deny Him by their lifestyle. That is what an unbelieving world simply finds unbelievable.”
–Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel.
2. “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin.”
–Frederick Buechner, Wishful Thinking.
3. Even though over 100 million people use Twitter every day, the social media app is finally making a profit this year. Due in part to a new marketing strategy and app updates, Twitter is releasing a “happening now” feature that puts breaking news at the top of your feed. Will this be a welcome change? Will it hinder or help the spread of fake news? What do your teens think?
4. After 14 years, the Parr family is back in Incredibles 2, releasing today in the U.S. Their new foe is “The Screen Slaver,” a mysterious villain who uses screens to hypnotize the masses. Sound familiar? It currently has a 95% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Watch it with your kids and see if it sparks conversations about screen time and mass media’s ability to manipulate their worldview.
5. Won’t You Be My Neighbor? debuted last week in select theaters. It’s a heartwarming story about the life of Fred Rogers, an ordained Presbyterian minister who “saw children as important, his work as ministry, and kindness as essential to human existence.” 50 years ago, Mr. Rogers graciously helped children deal with racial tension, border walls, and divorce while seeking to answer the timeless question Jesus was posed so many years ago, “Who is my neighbor?” It seems every generation deals with many of the same issues and Jesus’ answer to love our neighbors as ourselves is more important now than ever.
6. The US Open tee’d off Thursday at Shinnecock Hills with Tiger Woods chasing his 15th Major Championship. Just a year ago, Woods wondered if he’d ever play again. Never in sports history has someone so great become so average due to moral failure. Tiger’s off-course actions nearly derailed his career, yet here he is again, and honestly, we’re rooting for him to make the cut. Use Tiger’s morality tale to start conversations with your teens about the consequences of personal sin, as well as the power of forgiveness and restoration.
7. The French Open concluded Sunday, with Rafa claiming his 11th title at Roland Garros (further proving his unrivaled prowess on clay), while Simona Halep finally proved why she should keep her spot as world’s number one when she won her first-ever Grand Slam title. As inspiring as Rafa’s success is, Halep’s story of struggle, devastating defeat, setbacks, failures, hard work, and perseverance (along with Wozniacki’s, who finally won her first Grand Slam this year, too—by defeating Halep) is one that viral-sensation-filled, instant-success-driven teen culture could learn from.
8. Last week, we reported on the tragic suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. And while there are always a myriad of reasons why anyone would be driven to such a drastic decision, it’s apparent our Western culture is a culprit: “Our Culture tells us to be happy, but then evaluates our lives with the razor-thin criteria of financial success and physical beauty. It is no wonder—tragically—that more and more people are taking that razor and cutting themselves with it.” USA Today has an interesting take on the apparent link between American culture and the rise of depression and suicide. We encourage you to read it with your teen.
9. Speaking of Bourdain, many of us at Axis were big fans of his travel show Parts Unknown. We lived vicariously through his weekly globe-trotting adventures. Although he was an admitted agnostic with a sordid past, in many ways Bourdain embodied the Kingdom of God wherever he went by bringing people together to break bread, celebrate beauty, and discuss cultural topics that lead to redemption and change. He once said, “Walk in someone else’s shoes, or at least eat their food.” Travel has a way of breaking down barriers by reminding us that our world isn’t THE world. “Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” In memory of Bourdain’s life, take your teens on a trip. It doesn’t have to be to Africa, maybe just to the other side of town where they will see, touch, and experience people who are different from them. It will change the way they see the world and themselves, hopefully for the better.
10. On Monday, Justin Bieber comforted a fan who opened up about his struggles to find a church that welcomed him due to his same-sex attraction. The fan was heard saying, “I’m trying to find a nice place (church). Cause, like, no one is nice. Everybody is so homophobic.” Thankfully, Bieber responded with grace: “That breaks my heart for you….you’re more than welcome to come (to my church) any time.” Ask your teen what their response would be to an openly gay person attending their church. Would it make them uncomfortable? Why or why not? How should they respond to a seeker in search of salvation?
11. A Portland designer is hoping to reboot the LGBTQ Pride flag to fit modern times. His new flag features “multiple new colors, each representing a gender identity/sexual orientation, as well as arrows, suggesting cultural movement forward.” LGBT+ issues aren’t going away anytime soon, check out our Parent’s Guide to LGBT+ & Your Teen to help you navigate these challenging conversations.
12. Transgender female athletes Terry Miller and Andraya Yearwood finished first and second respectively in the Connecticut girls 100-meter state finals. In fact, it wasn’t even close. Both Miller and Yearwood identify as females, yet have what some parents are calling a “competitive advantage” due to their higher levels of speed and strength compared to cisgender women. Connecticut’s open policies allow them to compete against girls, but is this fair? How might such rules impact the future of competitive sports? Should there be a third category just for transgender athletes to compete against each other? Why or why not?
13. Facebook finally got back to Congress with the deets of just how much data it collects on its users (hint: it’s a lot). The 222-page answer shows “it monitors mouse movements, browsers, battery levels, wireless signals, storage space, nearby devices, GPS location, camera use, offline actions, and more.” Ah, so this is why teens are leaving FB…oh wait, no, because they’re all on FB-owned Instagram. Hmm. Does this news come as a shock to them? Does it make them want to use social media less? Or are the benefits they receive from those apps worth all the info they pay as a price?
14. The Southern Baptist Convention met this week in Dallas to elect a new president, but the talk on the town was all about women—about both their roles in the church and their mistreatment in previous sexual abuse cases. Recently, SBC figurehead Paige Patterson was forced out of his position as president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary over his improper response to sexual assault allegations. Austin pastor Matt Carter said, “The world is watching. We need to convey to the world that we care for women more than we care for our positions of power.” The #MeToo movement sparked the #ChurchToo movement, which is on full display this week in Dallas, giving a platform for many women to finally share their stories of sexual abuse at the hands of church leaders. It’s vitally important you speak with your daughters and your sons about boundaries, standing up for themselves, and what to do if they experience or witness sexual assault.
15. “The Great Opportunity” is a new report suggesting that over 40 million young people will walk away from their faith traditions by 2050. Instead of viewing these trends with fear and trepidation over the potential collapse of Christianity in the West, this moment “represents the largest Gospel opportunity in the history of America.” Check out how your family can join this timely movement.
Tip of the Week
16. Summer break is often a difficult season for both kids and parents. The daily routine of school is absent, leaving lots of time on your teens’ hands. You’ve probably either heard “I’m bored” at least a hundred times since school let out. In our productivity and screen-obsessed culture, boredom often seems like a bad thing: We’re not busy enough! We don’t have enough media to consume! But summer is a great opportunity to help your family reorient their relationship with boredom. There’s scientific evidence that boredom is a good thing, something that helps our brains refresh and allows space for introspection, daydreaming, and contemplation which can lead to increased creativity. “To be bored is to stop reacting to the external world, and to explore the internal one.” So rather than constantly searching for more ways to be distracted, allow boredom to run its course. “Boredom is an indicator that something deeper is just around the corner…an invitation to center and take stock of ourselves. An opportunity to be engaged in rather than distracted from life.” Encourage your teen to embrace boredom, who knows what great idea or spiritual truth God may whisper to them in the silence.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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