Vol. 5 Issue 15 | April 12, 2019

Vol. 5 Issue 15 | April 12, 2019

Three Things This Week

1. After

What it is: A new movie coming out today (April 12) based on an awful work of fan fiction that romanticizes abusive and unhealthy relationships. Sound familiar? Some are calling the story 50 Shades of Grey for teens.

Why it's disturbing: Beyond the fact that they’ve decided to make another movie based on a dubious YA (Young Adult) book and that these books are labeled YA in the first place, it’s disturbing how the movie was rated PG-13. It’s squarely aimed at the teen market, but if the movie leads teens to the book series, they will find everything but PG-13 content, including graphic sexual encounters and, possibly more insidious, the normalization of toxic and abusive relationships. After is a perfect lust story that has little to do with love. If you have teens who are interested in the movie, start a conversation about what it means to love someone and how movies do an excellent job of making something that is not love look romantic and exciting.

2. The Burnout Epidemic

What it is: From CEOs to everyday moms, it seems like everyone these days is feeling a little ragged, worn a bit too thin, and exhausted. Burnout is a word on everyone’s lips.

Why it’s not just about our to-do lists: It starts by believing the lie that we are what we do, that our worth comes from what we produce, not from whose we are. Fixing the problem of burnout is complicated and will take many systemic changes, but one of the most straightforward ways to begin is to return to the ancient practice of Sabbath. God gave us the gift of rest not for His sake, but for ours, because He knew we needed a reminder to stop and trust Him. If you or your teen can’t slow down, maybe you can start by reading our Parent’s Guide to Sabbath & Rest together. Finding time to rest creates a new rhythm to our lives, but it takes diligence and faith to do so. The Guide explains how Sabbath keeps us from the endless cycle of work, why it’s important, and how to get started.

3. Chill Music

What it is: A genre of music that’s become popular in the past 2-3 years that’s usually used for unobtrusive background noise while working, studying, sleeping, cleaning the house, etc. But is it actually music?

Why it might not be chill: Spotify has declared that it wants to make music a part of your life no matter your activity or mood. In fact, the app has over 80 playlists just for chillin’. The problem, says Amanda Petrusich, is “whatever happened to active listening”? Is this really music or just background noise for a new generation terrified of silence? Endel, a new “sound company,” actually makes no claims to make music, but instead creates “scientifically optimized” sounds to help you relax, work, or sleep. Ask your teens if they listen to chill music. Do they prefer it over silence? Why or why not? Also, ask them if they agree with C.S. Lewis when he wrote, “We live, in fact, in a world starved for solitude, silence, and private: and therefore starved for meditation and true friendship.” Does their lack of solitude keep them from a truly knowing and experiencing God?

Parent Guide Spotlight: Sunday, April 14 is Palm Sunday and marks the beginning of Holy Week. “Wait, Easter isn’t until the next week, what are we starting to celebrate now?” Glad you asked, because we have an excellent guide to Holy Week and Easter that covers how these holy days began and why they are so important.

The Myth We Want to Believe

Myths are not, by themselves, inherently bad. Myths can be instructive, even, teaching a universal moral or truth through stylized story. Just because a mythical story didn’t literally happen, it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. But problems arise when the myths we create obscure our vision and understanding of the actual story that created the myth, especially when the reality is not quite so attractive or edifying. And that is when myths can become dangerous.

Let’s start in Luke 13. People were telling Jesus about some Galileans that Pilate had killed during their sacrifices. Jesus himself brings up the sad case of a tower falling on 18 people. Those present were likely looking to Jesus for some kind of action to take or at least an explanation of why these terrible things happened. Most likely some of them burned with anger against the Romans for their barbarity; some of the more politically connected probably suspected that the Galileans provoked the Romans somehow. Others, the religious leaders perhaps, using their “superior” knowledge of Scripture, thought that surely those who died must have been quite the sinners because, as it seemed so obvious to them, “bad things happen to bad people.”

But Jesus’ answer to these people was certainly not what they expected. His response boiled down to, “You are as equally responsible for these tragedies as any of those involved,” or in His words, “Repent or you too will perish.” The one myth that Jesus wanted to make sure to dispel was that the world is neatly divided between good people and bad people, between Jews and pagans, the righteous and unrighteous. It’s funny how we always seem to think we’re the good people. He wanted to make it clear to the religiously minded that this was not the case, nobody is righteous, not even one. The line between good and evil runs through every human heart. He wanted to make sure to drive home the point that there is no “them”, only us by making Samaritans and Syro-Phoenicians heroes in his stories. In truth, we’re all in danger of perishing.

Now the good news, of course, is that God did not and does not leave us there, but that Jesus took all of our responsibility, took all of the suffering that we deserved, and He perished in our place. That is the good news that we get to celebrate on Easter.

But that does not mean that the myth has died. We still want to believe that we are “pretty good people.” And that those who are suffering, those Middle Eastern civilians who die in drone attacks, those children separated from their migrant parents, those marginalized minorities who grew up with limited opportunities and absent fathers who end up in prison—we want to believe they had it coming to them. But that’s the great dualistic myth mankind has been telling for generations. If we’re honest, we all have it coming to us, and if we don’t repent of this binary, childish way of thinking we’re complicit in the system. (For more on this particular lesson from Jesus, listen to this sermon, from which this idea originally came.)