Three Things This Week
What it is: Hip hop superstar Drake released a double album this week, which gained 170+ million streams in its first 24 hours, completely shattering all previous streaming records.
Why it’s noteworthy: The album’s success could be due to the incessant promotion by both Spotify and Apple Music, or due to the fact that Drizzy showcases two different sides of himself between the two “sides” of the album (one side is primarily hip hop, the other R&B). The album is everywhere, and we’re guessing your teens are listening. He wrestles with some tough topics on tracks like “Emotionless” and “Is There More” and even admits he has a son on another. You should listen to his music in order to join the conversation he’s already having with your kids.
2. Tinder Loops
What it is: Dating app Tinder’s newest feature is 2-second looping videos in place of profile pics.
Why it’s disturbing:According to Tinder, the videos allow users “to show more personality, which is the best way to get more right swipes” (matches). Just like Snapchat’s “Stories” have been copied by Facebook and Instagram, we can be sure that other dating apps (and other types of apps) will copy this feature. So even if your teens don’t use Tinder, the videos will reinforce the dehumanizing idea of mass objectification, that people should be judged, sifted through, and discarded or liked based on a 2-second impression that reduces human beings to products in a seemingly endless digital display window where not only their bodies, but also their hearts and souls seem up for sale.
3. What is Pop Culture?
What it is: In Popular Culture: An Introductory Text, the authors propose a formula: “The popularity of a given cultural element (object, person, or event) is directly proportional to the degree to which that element is reflective of audience beliefs and values.”
Why it’s thought provoking: Is it true? What do your teenagers think? Do we only like and support those things with which we already agree? Or do we champion cultural artifacts that stretch and challenge us, that pull us out of our comfort zones (like “This is America”)? It’s a conversation worth having with your teens, especially since we’re often so immersed in pop culture that we rarely take the time to recognize its influence, let alone to scrutinize what it’s subversively teaching us.
Bonus: Help us create our next Conversation Kit! What’s one thing you wish you could teach your teens about dating, romance, and sex? Your answers will shape our next Conversation Kit on dating! Email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
Embracing the Ordinary
On Wednesday, the US celebrated the holy day of Independence with parades and fireworks, marking a high point on our civic calendar. In contrast, the Christian calendar is currently mired in the mundane, trudging through Ordinary Time. Bereft of celebrations, this six-month season encourages believers to consistently live out their faith in normal life.
Most of our days on this earth are spent doing ordinary things: washing the dishes, mowing the lawn, or cooking a meal. Perhaps no one is bothered by the ordinary and plain more than teenagers. They often haven’t reached a place of maturity where they can appreciate the humdrum parts of life. But it’s in these very routine times that miraculous things happen: Our children grow up, our marriages get stronger, and our souls ripen. Annie Dillard wrote, “How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”
The tragedy is that our kids want to skip over the normal, daily routines because they fail to see the glory of God in the everyday. These mundane tasks aren’t distractions from what they are made to do; they are what our kids are made to do. If this sounds like drudgery, then we need to ask for fresh eyes to see daily life as a form of worship. “Sometimes the difference between drudgery and epiphany is just seeing things from the right angle.”
The Christian calendar gives our children an alternative to the story they are being told daily in which entertainment, sporting events, and nationalism anchor their year. The liturgical calendar centers time—and thus life—around the Kingdom of God, reminding us of the sacredness in every moment. Embracing “ordinary time” means practicing the presence of God always. He is with us in our kitchens, in the car, and at school. And because He is with us always, nothing really is ordinary after all.
Check out our Parent’s Guide to Ordinary Time to learn practical ways you can help your teen infuse holiness into their daily life. (Or for more on the Liturgical Calendar, check out our Parent’s Guide to the Liturgical Year Bundle!)
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