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1. A Bridge Too Far

What it is: The newest season of Bridgerton has debuted on Netflix, to the delight of fans and the chagrin of some parents.
Why it’s so popular: The first season of the period drama was heavy on the hot and heavy, its second season not so much. So when the first four episodes of Bridgerton’s third season dropped on Netflix, viewers weren’t quite sure what to expect. This season’s plot will, apparently, follow the romantic arc of Penelope Featherington and Colin Bridgerton as they move out of the friend zone. The popularity of this show shows no sign of slowing down—45 million viewers watched the first four episodes within days of the initial release. Fans of the show appreciate its tension and character development; for lovers of a slow-burn romance, Bridgerton is hard to beat. Unfortunately, this season’s nudity, explicit sex, and other onscreen elements will (rightly) give many parents pause. For fans of the Regency era, tuning in to a Pride and Prejudice adaptation is a safer bet.
Continue the conversation: What is it about the “Regency period” that makes it seem so romantic?

2. Failing the Alphabet

What it is: This week, GLAAD released a report evaluating major social media sites on how “safe” they were for LGBTQ+ users. Every platform failed—except for TikTok, which received a D+.
What success would have looked like to GLAAD: The report evaluated social media platforms based on 12 criteria. These included whether the platforms feature an option for users to add pronouns to their profiles, whether moderation policies successfully prohibit users from “deadnaming” or “misgendering” others, and more broadly whether platforms “protect LGBTQ users from harm, discrimination, harassment, and hate.” GLAAD concluded that no social media company was currently doing enough along these lines. The organization’s ideal social media platform would automatically remove content that makes any aspect of having an LGBTQ+ identity more difficult. This would include online harassment and bullying, but also anything disparaging about social and medical gender transition. Whether social media platforms will actually commit to this radical line of “moderation” remains to be seen.
Continue the conversation: What’s the difference between hate and disagreement?

3. Prosperity Parenting

What it is: In an interview, Pastor John MacArthur asserted that “Behavior is essentially the result of choices that kids make—and if you parent them properly, they’ll make right choices.” This point of view, as well as others he expressed, drew a lot of negative attention.
Why it’s complicated: MacArthur also suggested that treating mental health conditions with prescription medication could mean that kids “never learn how to navigate life in a socially acceptable way.” This viewpoint seems to imply that a perfect parenting formula exists, which doesn’t include prescription medication, and which will guarantee particular outcomes in our kids’ lives. A recent episode of the Kainos Project podcast compares this line of thinking to a “parenting prosperity gospel,” where instead of a financial gift obligating God to make the giver wealthy, a degree of parenting perfection guarantees that our kids will live morally. But the Bible offers no such guarantee. Kids are responsible for their own decisions, just as we are responsible for ours. This truth helps us have grace for our kids, and for ourselves, when our children mess up—even as we encourage them to live a godly life.
Continue the conversation: What’s the balance between acknowledging difficult circumstances and taking responsibility for our actions?

Song Of The Week

“I Had Some Help (Feat. Morgan Wallen)” by Post Malone: Post Malone has threatened to dive into the country genre for years now, and after performing at Stagecoach a couple of weeks ago, it seems he’s made the leap. With a verse from Morgan Wallen, one of today’s most popular country artists, “I Had Some Help” is a song about the end of a romantic relationship where both people are to blame. There are some lyrics that, when read, might raise your eyebrows (blaming your partner for your own overdrinking, for example), but the lyrical structure and overall musical tone of the song give it a light-hearted feel. For lyrics, click here (language).

Deep Dive: HIT ME HARD AND SOFT by Billie Eilish

One of the strangest things the internet has done to our world is to restrict and collapse our ability to engage with the complex. Short content and simple takeaways have trained us to expect a quick and easy meaning and “moral of the story” in all the media we consume.

Billie Eilish’s new album HIT ME HARD AND SOFT refuses, for the most part, to fall in line. Some songs are straightforward, like “LUNCH,” a graphic description of a same-sex relationship (Eilish recently came out as queer). In the lyrics of “LUNCH,” any time “she” is mentioned, Eilish is singing about another woman.

But, in the first track on the album, “SKINNY,” Eilish refers to her younger self as “she.” Eilish plays with pronouns throughout the album, loading each song with double meanings and interpretive possibilities. Track by track, listeners are left to wonder, is this a love song, or an ode to self-love? Is it a breakup song, or an admittance of self-doubt? Or is it an examination from outside herself, swapping the perspective so the “she” is Billie, and the “me” is a critical observer?

Billie’s lyrics are not in line with—and are often in direct opposition to—the teachings of Scripture, but there is a reason her analysis-resistant lyrics appeal. Humans are designed not just to be meaning-makers, but meaning-discoverers. Proverbs 25:2 suggests as much: “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search out a matter is the glory of kings.”

That design to discover meaning finds its ultimate fulfillment in our Designer. While the message of salvation is one of power in its simplicity, it opens the door to the endless beauty and glory of a God we can’t comprehend fully in this lifetime. Pressing into the confusing and the complicated rewards the seeker with the real gift of faith: a “great mystery” that is never fully unraveled. Around every corner is a new revelation, a new chance to trust that is rewarded with a deeper knowledge of the Father.

For the full podcast review of HIT ME HARD AND SOFT, click here. In the meantime, here are three questions to help spark conversation with your teens:

  • Why do you prefer the music you do?
  • What’s a piece of media that draws you in over and over again, and why does it do that?
  • What do you think the phrase “the mystery of our faith” means?