Vol. 4 Issue 07 | February 16, 2018

Three Things This Week

1. Black Panther

What it is: With a 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Marvel’s latest superhero movie comes with a twist: its main character is an African who creates a black monarchy ruling “the most intelligent and powerful country in the world.”

Why representation is important: Black Panther is the 18th movie in the Marvel Universe and is arguably the first blockbuster film that is predominantly black. But do black superheroes matter? Absolutely. For the first time in their lives, many minority children will see a representation of themselves on film. And whether it’s a fictional character or the President, when you see someone who looks like you doing something great, it fosters the belief that you too can achieve incredible things. As Marvel boss Kevin Feige points out, it’s “easy to take for granted, growing up in the United States as a white male, that my cinematic heroes look like me…I want everybody to have that feeling.”

2. Who Google’s Hiring

What it is: To help aid in future hires, Google researched the eight most important qualities of their top employees, and interestingly enough, STEM expertise came in dead last.

Why the liberal arts rock: The top seven characteristics of success at Google are human skills, not technical mastery. “Communicating and listening well, having empathy…being a good critical thinker and problem solver” are the attributes of Google’s best employees. Sounds like they need more English majors and less computer programmers. True education isn’t merely vocational prep. Rather, “what matters now is not the skills you have but how you think.” As counterintuitive as it might sound, the tech age is reminding educators the liberal arts are more important than ever because they foster well-rounded, deep thinking individuals who more easily adapt to and make sense of the ever changing world. So, before pushing your student down a specific educational track, remember that they are human beings, not products in a vocational assembly line. Encourage them to study the arts and humanities, read rich literature, and wrestle over philosophical conundrums. You might just find that this wide path will not only lead to future employment but also make them more fully human in the process.

3. Undercover High

What it is: Seven young adults posed as students at a Kansas high school for A&E’s documentary series to discover what it’s like to be a student in today’s classrooms.

Why it’s alarming: These “students” took regular classes, did homework, and made friends while secretly exposing the almost ritualistic bullying, sexual harassment, and violence kids experience every day in school. In fact, they found seven unique challenges today’s students face. The underlying difference? The smartphone. “What I saw going back to high school, more than anything, was an alarming disconnect between teenagers and adults today.” If you are a parent or teacher and long for ways to bridge the generational gap between you and your students, join our team in partnership with ACSI for a one-day professional development training in cultural literacy and culture engagement. We’ll teach you how to become a culture translator in your home and classroom. Check it out today!


Parkland Shooting

On Ash Wednesday, 17 students were killed at a South Florida high school in yet another mass shooting in what is becoming a uniquely American problem. In fact, here’s the growing list of school shootings since 1998. Politicians are using the crisis to promote their agendas, find scapegoats, and place blame, all while teen survivor David Hogg pleads for answers: “We’re children, you guys are like, the adults. Take action, work together, come over your politics and get something done.” Maybe a child should lead us.

Kids dying at their desks isn’t a political issue; it’s a moral crisis. Offering thoughts and prayers without action is anemic. It’s akin to the admonition found in James: “If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace, be warmed and filled,’ without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?”

But what can we do, and how do we start a cultural conversation about the systemic violence that threatens to anesthetize us by its normalcy? In this season of Lent, a good place to start as a family is the biblical practice of lament. Lament is the visceral, public announcement that things are not right and refusing to be silent about it. The Bible is filled with stories of God’s people speaking and being answered, crying and being heard. It’s Israel moaning in Egypt, Rachel weeping for her children, and Job sitting alone with his potsherds. Lament means evoking cries that demand answers. It means summoning God, expecting Him to act, and then joining him in that action. It is prayer and action in the midst of pain. Without lamentation, victims remain voiceless and the status quo goes unchallenged.

So cry out as a family. Weep and mourn. Lament the deaths of 17 image bearers. Lament the lack of courage and imagination to keep our kids safe. Lament that politics and power are more important than people. And in so doing, like Rachel, refuse to be comforted until something changes.

Sit with your children tonight and help them understand this isn’t or shouldn’t ever be normal. Remember, they’ve never known a world where schools are safe. Work together as a family to come up with practical ways to help prevent this senseless tragedy. Mobilize them to keep watch on social media, encourage them to take action if they see an alarming post from a classmate, and maybe hardest of all, help them seek out a relationship with that at risk student. Because as we all know, hurting people often hurt other people.

Amen.

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