Three Things This Week
1. Lauren Daigle
What is it: The popular Christian singer put the Christian community in a tizzy with her recent response to the question of whether homosexuality is a sin.
Why it’s polarizing: Few things divide evangelicals from both progressive Christians and pop culture more than the issue of homosexuality. Instead of fueling the fire, Daigle refused an outright answer by saying “I can’t honestly answer on that…I have too many people that I love that they are homosexual…I can’t say one way or the other. I’m not God.” She then encouraged listeners to read the Bible and find out for themselves. Before sharing your reactions, ask your daughter or son the same question and see if they answer similarly. Our guess is they might also filter the question first through the lens of personal relationships, and secondarily through Scripture.
2. YouTube Stories
What it is: YouTube has made its own version of stories available to creators with 10k+ subscribers.
Why it’s noteworthy: If the success of Snapchat’s and Instagram’s Stories are indicators, the feature will soon take off. YT’s version isn’t an exact replica of its predecessors (they last for 7 days, can be publicly commented on, and are only available in the mobile app), but they will change viewers’ expectations, which will impact both fans and creators. First, fans will be encouraged to spend even more time on the platform, as well as become more obsessive about the creators they follow. Second, creators will face even more pressure to never stop creating/filming, always be available, respond to every comment, and open up their lives even more than they already do. And if they make the feature available on YouTube Kids, the impact will start at even younger ages.
3. Video Game Oscars
What they are:The Game Awards 2018 happened Thursday night.
Why they’re important: They celebrate every aspect of gaming culture, including top video games, eSports players and teams, and Twitch streamers. Yes, Fortnite won a couple awards, but more importantly, the awards reveal just how thriving and influential the entire gaming industry has become. No longer a fringe niche in the entertainment world, it’s a full-fledged culture maker, with big names like Jonah Hill and Hans Zimmer lending their talents to the evening. Even if you don’t watch the entire 4-hour event, reading a few articles about them could help you better understand the world of gaming and why your teen is obsessed (or bonus, help you connect with him/her in new ways). See if your teen’s favorite games made the list of nominees and winners and ask him/her what makes a game worth playing and celebrating.
Should You “Live Your Truth”?
“Your truth”—a phrase that’s entered our lexicon with fervor in recent months and years, thanks to people like Oprah, the #MeToo movement, and a post-truth political climate. In fact, it’s quite a paradoxical phrase, since it combines something that can be subjective (“your”) with something historically considered wholly non-subjective (“truth”). But what do people mean when they say it? Are they referring to something different from “the truth”?
Reading articles like this one from HuffPo or this one from The Atlantic is simultaneously eye-opening, frustrating, and confusing because they challenge our assumptions. Yet it’s important to read these seemingly contradictory points of view in order to grapple not only with what we hear when someone says “Your Truth,” but also with what they actually meant by using it. When marginalized people or victims of injustice use the terminology, they’re giving voice to an alternative story that has often been silenced or dismissed. In this way, the phrase is empowering and can be healing. Of course, not everyone uses the phrase in the same way, but one thing becomes clear: What can be powerful and useful in changing our cultural dialogue can turn dangerous when taken to its extreme (e.g. what if someone’s “truth” is that it’s ok to be a pedophile?).
Regardless of how we feel about this topic, we need to engage it because it is impacting our teenagers. Beyond hearing the phrase or seeing it all over the internet, it’s also being normalized through media. For example, Lutheran pastor Nadia Bolz-Weber recently said (language) that people shouldn’t be shamed for consuming p*rn, as long as it’s “ethically sourced” (i.e. doesn’t use coercion or trafficking). For teenagers who dabble in or are addicted to p*rn, this could easily be seen as validation of “their truth” that p*rnography is good for them.
Another example is Netflix’s new film Cam, a psychological thriller about a woman who makes her living as a sex-cam worker. As Relevant points out, the film subtly tries to validate her chosen profession as normal, good, even empowering. In a sense, she’s portrayed as “living her truth” that as long as it’s on her own terms, using her sexuality for gain is moral and empowering. Young viewers can easily internalize this under-the-radar message and use it to rationalize their desire to post sexy selfies, send nudes, or worse.
Trust us, walking down this path won’t be easy or clear cut, but it will be good, both for you and your teenagers. Here are some possible discussion questions:
- What do you think “your/my/his/her truth” means?
- What do you think other people mean when they say it?
- Does it matter who says it?
- How can it be good? How can it be bad?
- How do we know the truth? What about with something the Bible doesn’t specifically speak about?
- Why is it important to define our terms and choose our words carefully?
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