1. That’s Hot
What it is: According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, July 4 was the hottest day since recording began in the mid-19th century, with the average global temperature hitting 62.62 degrees Fahrenheit.
Why teens care: According to the Washington Post, “Instrument-based global temperature records go back to the mid-19th century, [and] for temperatures before that, scientists are dependent on proxy data captured through evidence left in tree rings and ice cores.” Data from the Pew Research Center showed in 2022 that two-thirds of people under 40 say that climate change is an extremely serious or very serious problem. 42% of Evangelical Protestants under 40 say the earth is warming due to human activity, in contrast to only 21% in that demographic who are 40 and older. Climate change activism and online discourse on the topic have both taken a particularly dire tone in recent years, as concerned Gen Zers feel their futures are at stake and that older people simply won’t take action. But it isn’t as cut and dry as Gen Xers and Baby Boomers not caring about the climate; 72% of all adults over 40 in that same Pew survey agreed that God gave humans a duty to protect and care for the earth. While we aren’t climatologists at Axis, we do know that different generations see this issue very differently, and our encouragement to families is to pursue a conversation around evidence.
Start the conversation: What do you believe about climate change? What is that belief based in?
2. Court vs. the Culture
What it is: At the end of last week, the Supreme Court released decisions on several cases that will have a direct impact on Gen Z. Notable among them was the “Students for Fair Admissions Inc. vs President and Fellows of Harvard College” case, which effectively ended some college admissions practices focused on diversity.
What the culture is saying: Some headlines oversimplified the SCOTUS majority opinion, saying that the highest court in the land had simply overturned decades of legal precedent to kill affirmative action as we know it. The ruling does go against previous decisions, but it’s a bit more nuanced than that. The court’s opinion ruled that race cannot be used as a “plus factor” when making an admissions decision, but granted that universities may consider “an applicant’s discussion of how race affected his or her life, be it through discrimination, inspiration, or otherwise.”
Start the conversation: Have you seen a lot of discussion in person or online about this affirmative action ruling?
3. The Sound of Freedom
What it is: Sound of Freedom, an Angel Studios film about the human trafficking industry, is out in theaters for a limited time.
Why it’s so important: The film shines a light on one of the darkest industries on the planet: child abduction and human trafficking. Based on true events, the plot centers around two siblings who are abducted under false pretenses by a recruiter who says she’s with “Discover Your Dreams.” Tim Ballard (who founded Operation Underground Railroad), played by Jim Caviezel, rescues an abducted boy during an attempted border crossing, and then sets out to rescue his older sister. The movie is intense but not gratuitous, and ends with sobering statistics about how the United States is still one of the biggest consumers of trafficked persons in the world, and an encouragement for viewers to share Sound of Freedom to help make a difference.
Start the conversation: What do you know about human trafficking?
Song of the Week
“vampire” by Olivia Rodrigo: reaching #1 on Spotify and #2 on Apple Music, this heartbreak ballad turned dance anthem is the first single from Rodrigo’s much-anticipated second album, “GUTS.” The song is about an abusive/manipulative relationship with an older man who is likened to a vampire. For the song’s lyrics, click here (language).
What do the movie “Sound of Freedom,” the song “vampire,” the ruling on affirmative action and the hottest day on record have in common? Ask a handful of Gen Zers and the answer you get might have something to do with injustice.
“Sound of Freedom” is about the exploitation of children in the profoundly unjust industry of human trafficking; Rodrigo also describes being exploited for her fame in her relationship with her ex. In addition, some teens may perceive a lack of meaningful action to prevent climate change as unjust, given that future generations will have to inherit this world. Others may see the ruling on affirmative action as restricting opportunities for minorities.
We know that God cares about justice. In a criticism of empty religious rituals the prophet Amos, in verse 5:24, says “let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” But different people have different definitions of what “justice” really involves, which is part of why defining terms is important in this conversation.
Here are some questions to help spark the conversation with your teens:
- What do you think justice means?
- What do you think the Bible teaches about justice?
- How do you think the concept of justice applies to human trafficking, affirmative action, the planet getting warmer, and even to the song “vampire”?