Vol. 4 Issue 46 | November 16, 2018

Three Things This Week

1. High School Sieg Heil

What it is: A six-month-old Wisconsin high school prom photo went viral this week when people finally noticed the group of white male students giving the Nazi salute.

Why it’s scary: The original photo was tweeted with the comment, “We even got the black kid to throw it up.” It appears only one student, Jordan Blue, refused to go along with his classmates: “I knew what my morals were and it was not to salute something I firmly didn’t believe in.” Groupthink is dangerous, especially among teens. Gen Z is full of promise and hope, capable of amazing things, but this is a good reminder that they’re still young, susceptible to peer pressure, and easily influenced by the rise in racist rhetoric on a national scale. It’s a great opportunity to begin the conversation about doing what’s right, no matter the cost. The Holocaust and other atrocities were not perpetrated by monsters, but by ordinary people who passively conformed to social and political pressures instead of having the courage to dissent.

2. Instant Family

What it is:A funny drama in which Mark Wahlberg and Rose Byrne foster and eventually adopt three siblings comes to theaters November 16.

Why it’s worth seeing: Based on the real experiences of the film’s director, it puts flesh on a very human issue: the hundreds of thousands of children in the foster care system who need hope and a future. But it doesn’t glamorize it, either; it’s open about how it can simultaneously be messy, confusing, difficult, frustrating, and rewarding beyond measure. The movie beautifully demonstrates foster care isn’t something only “heroes” and super people should do; it’s everyday, normal people who can provide the loving home that these children need. Since it’s rated PG-13, it may not be appropriate for everyone in the family, and Christian viewers are bound to disagree with elements, making it a compelling and convicting conversation starter. Has your family ever considered foster care? Why or why not?

3. The Motto Method

What it is: In a long exposé (language), HuffPo looks into long-standing research on suicide treatment that utilizes a surprising approach: sending letters to show that you care.

Why it’s hopeful: As of 2016, the CDC reports suicide as the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., occurring at a rate of more than double that of homicide, and a recent study found that each successful suicide impacts 135 people. Yet professionals struggle to know how to treat it, and many with suicidal thoughts eventually refuse continuing treatment. Does that mean individuals dealing with depression or suicidal ideation are hopeless? The research suggests that, no, they’re not; in fact, the treatment may be as simple as sending texts and emails at regular intervals to show them they’re not alone. We highly recommend reading the article because none of us ever knows when our loved ones might be in need of just that.*

*Suicide is serious. If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and always seek professional help.

What Stan Lee Taught Us

Marvel Comics legend Stan Lee passed away this week at the age of 95. Starting in the 1940s, he was a prolific storyteller, co-creating some of our most beloved superheroes, including Spider-Man, the X-Men, Iron Man, Thor, the Hulk, Black Panther, Daredevil, and Doctor Strange. Not only did his tales influence millions of comic book lovers over the past 7+ decades, the films, TV shows, and radio shows adapted from them have influenced even more. Truly, without Stan Lee, our modern entertainment landscape would be very different.

And yet, his sagas did more than entertain us; they moved us, taught us, and gave us hope. Regardless of whether we agree with the messages conveyed through Lee’s work or with his vision (which has been pointed out as problematic), it’s clear that he had and continues to have a meaningful, lasting impact on many lives, begging the question: Would he have been so influential without art and without the power of story?

His legacy reminds us—indeed, compels us—to not underestimate the role stories play to persuade and change hearts. Even video games have taken note, releasing to high praise games like Red Dead Redemption 2, which emphasizes narrative and story over action and quests.

As we strive to disciple the next generation, it’s tempting to believe abstract apologetics or moral arguments are enough to convince students to embrace Christianity. But more often than not, something else is needed. Thankfully God knew this as well, that’s why the Bible was given to us as a story, not an encyclopedia. “Storytelling is the most powerful way of putting ideas into the world.” Incredibly enough, God’s story isn’t simply one we read about, but one we participate in. Each day we’re invited to play our part in His ongoing story to redeem and renew all of creation.

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