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1. More Mandalore

What it is: Season three of “The Mandalorian” took viewers on a convoluted journey that wrapped this week with its season finale, an episode called “The Return.”
Why some viewers were disappointed: “The Mandalorian” is loved and lauded for its portrayal of the withdrawn warrior Din Djarin and his adorable foundling, Grogu. (A miniature green guy better known to the more casual observer as “baby Yoda”). An early plot point of the third season focused on Djarin’s dedication to the Mandalorian religion, which adherents call “the Way,” and followed his pilgrimage to be baptized in the waters of a dangerous underground foundry after straying from its tenets. But this exploration of faith, legend, and the ways they intersect is wrapped up in a hurry and ultimately blown past in the larger story arc. Instead, a formerly minor character’s quest to reoccupy their home planet of Mandalore becomes the total focus of the last several chapters. Any interesting exploration of Mandalorian culture (think: Spartans in space) is abandoned in favor of a showdown with the same villain from the last two seasons. Without giving away too many spoilers, the eight-episode run felt at times like it was threading the needle for future “Star Wars” properties instead of working with the compelling emotional pairing that drew viewers in the first place.

2. Beastie’s Boys

What it is: YouTuber MrBeast has built his brand off of videos that show him palling around with his best bros. Now one of his core crew members has announced they are on hormone replacement therapy to transition from male to female.
Why MrBeast can’t win: MrBeast is the most-followed person on YouTube, and his friend Chris Tyson has been along for the ride as one of his co-hosts since the beginning. Tyson himself has 2.7 million Instagram followers, so he’s arguably become an internet celebrity in his own right. Tyson also has a young family, with a wife and a two-year-old son. He now says that HRT is gender-affirming care, and that it has saved his life, posting photos of his gender transition journey in which he looks very different than viewers are used to. MrBeast has voiced public support for his friend, but there’s no denying that this is very complicated territory for him. His content promotes wild giveaways, wholesome pranks and extreme challenges—the kind of stuff that attracts a younger audience. If he stops featuring Tyson, he will appear disloyal, inauthentic, and transphobic. But if Tyson stays on the show—which seems to be the more likely outcome—many parents may cut off their children’s access to his channels.

3. Grossed Over

What it is: The shape of youth ministry is changing, bringing an emphasis on incorporating teens alongside adults throughout the worship experience.
Why it’s a big shift: Some churches have always made it a point to include teenagers in their main worship services. But in the 90s and early 2000s, many ministries began to segregate the youth with their own course of programming. The more infamous hallmarks of youth ministry became gross-out games, lock-ins, and pizza parties. One source quoted by Christianity Today referred to this type of siloed activity as “spiritual daycare.” Current research calls attention to the fact that having a lot of boisterous fun during youth group might make church a hangout destination during high school, but it doesn’t predict a lasting spiritual formation. Churches that can engage teens in lasting mentorship relationships with more than one adult may have the most success at creating the next generation of committed Christians.

Song of the Week

“Cupid” by FIFTY FIFTY: A sped-up version of this K-pop song has become one of the highest-trending songs on TikTok. The song comes with its own dance (as per usual), and is essentially about “giving a second chance to Cupid,” or trying to become open to romance again, only to be disappointed. The “Twin Version” of the song is also trending on TikTok, which is the normal-speed version of the song without Korean lyrics. For the full lyrics to this song, click here; to get the trending 19-second clip stuck in your head, click here.

Translation: Beastie’s Boys

Chris Tyson’s decision to begin hormone therapy opens up some complicated questions for MrBeast and his viewers. It seems like any subsequent choice MrBeast makes about featuring Tyson on his show will be likely to alienate a portion of his audience.

Those of us who haven’t kept up with him for very long might not know that MrBeast (whose real name is Jimmy Donaldson) grew up going to a Christian school, and that his YouTube banner actually used to include a Bible verse. His giveaways are even a powerful example of the kind of radical generosity that should inspire Christians. But he has since distanced himself from his Christian roots, saying in a recent interview, “It’s just kind of hard to tell what’s right or what’s wrong, religion-wise. There’s so many and, I don’t know. I believe there’s some kind of God but, how do you know?”

Given that Donaldson is no longer pursuing Christianity, we shouldn’t be surprised if his convictions no longer hold consistent to the Christian tradition. But that doesn’t necessarily make this issue less complicated for Christian parents, especially those with younger kids. Individual households will now have to decide whether to continue watching MrBeast’s various channels. If they do, they may need to be ready for a conversation with their kids about gender and gender identity.

We have created resources to help equip parents and caring adults for this conversation whenever it happens, like our Parent’s Guide to Gender Identity. Older teens may also be wondering about questions like, “If one of my friends decided to transition, how would I handle that?” Or maybe even, “If I decided to transition, how would my friends handle that?”

Here are some discussion questions to help get this conversation started:

  • What do you think MrBeast will do? What do you think he should do?
  • How would you handle it if a friend decided to transition to the opposite gender?
  • What do you think 1 Corinthians 5:12 has to say in connection with this conversation?