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1. All Eyes on Rafah

What it is: An AI-generated image designed to spread awareness of Israel’s attack on the Palestinian city of Rafah has been shared over 47 million times online.
Why it’s controversial: The viral image AI-Generated ‘All Eyes On Rafah’ Pic Criticised For Being “Removed From Reality” is being compared to the black squares of #BlackoutTuesday, which many argue did nothing but make posters feel good about themselves. It’s also being criticized for presenting a sanitized, even idyllic image of Rafah, which on the ground actually looks more like a war-torn wasteland. The meme has become shorthand for, “Look at the way Israel attacked unarmed, displaced Palestinians in Rafah,” the place where Israel claims Hamas’ final stronghold in the Gaza Strip exists. Less remarked on is the fact that the image itself was created by a Malaysian organization whose primary mission is to help “the A.I. industry to prosper in our country and in the world.”
Continue the conversation: What do you think about the “All Eyes on Rafah” image?

2. Relig-ish

What it is: In a generation marked by ennui and existential dread, more and more young people are turning to therapeutic practices that look suspiciously like traditional religion for comfort and security.
Why it appeals: GIRLS writer Freya India comments that several of the activities that hold Gen Zers’ interest appear to be God-free religion: “We don’t pray at night; we repeat positive affirmations. We don’t confess; we trauma dump. We don’t seek salvation; we go on healing journeys.” India notes that without the backbone of faith, these practices are just meant to make the penitent feel better; but declining mental health statistics tell us it isn’t working. Without the parts of religion that exist outside of us—the Church, Scripture, and above all an omnipotent God—spirituality is an exercise in futility. [For more on how the ‘outside’ aspects of Christianity contribute to our flourishing, check out our podcast conversation with Adam Pelser.]
Continue the conversation: What is the purpose of religious practice?

3. Marshall Matters

What it is: Rapper Eminem is back in a big way with a controversial new single called “Houdini,” and Gen Alpha seems to be embracing the artist as a cult hero.
Why it’s trending: A TikTok trend casts today’s teens as being “offended” by Eminem’s provocative lyrics, but there is little evidence of this. In fact, Eminem collaborated with Fortnite this past December, performing a concert and lending his likeness to a set of skins. Kids seem to like him, and “Houdini” is climbing up the charts. In 1999, Eminem’s penchant for profanity, violent lyrics, and feuding with the famous made him both a household name and a source of parental despair. Two decades later, the cultural landscape feels very different, and even the most shocking things Eminem has to say on “Houdini” feel like a throwback to a less complicated time.
Continue the conversation: Have you heard the song “Houdini”? What do you think about it?

Slang of the Week

That’s OP: While some slang has nebulous origins, it’s pretty clear “that’s OP” comes from the gaming community. “OP” is short for “overpowered,” a way of saying something is too strong, unfair, or unbalanced in a game. “That’s OP” can be used outside of games though, whether it’s to describe a new strategy in a sport, a different way to flirt, or as a reaction to anything that seems, well, overpowered.

A Tribute

Today, we want to break tradition and use this section of the Culture Translator to honor the life of someone who meant a great deal to the staff at Axis.

This week our beloved friend and colleague Cara Davies passed away, finishing her race well after battling an aggressive form of cancer. Cara was a devoted wife, an adoring mother of three  boys (two in college, one still in high school), and a lover of Jesus. She spent much of her time pouring into the next generation, whether it was through her work at Axis or as a teacher in classrooms.

Cara was especially fond of the Culture Translator. Every week, she would work beyond her normal responsibilities at Axis to help proofread and shape the heart of this very newsletter. Behind the scenes, we were privileged to see Cara’s passion for the Word of God, the Kingdom of Heaven, and for parents and their teens. On a weekly basis, she would talk excitedly about what she learned from the Culture Translator that she could use to start conversations with one of her boys. If ever an “Axis parent” existed, Cara was it.

The world was a better place with Cara in it, and while we may grieve right now, we trust in the promise that she is healed and that God has welcomed her as a good and faithful servant.

The Axis staff dedicates this week’s Culture Translator to Cara, and the thousands and thousands of parents and caring adults who love Jesus and the next generation, who work tirelessly, with often little acknowledgement, to help pass on the faith. The Kingdom of Heaven is full of brothers and sisters like Cara.

So thank you, Cara. We can’t wait to see you again, to celebrate with you at the Feast of the Bridegroom, and to join the long line of saints honoring you for the time you gave to us.