As a father of three who has worked with youth for 20 years, I’ve had a front row seat from which to observe the cultural saturation of America’s young adults, particularly when it comes to entertainment. A good story is powerful, and some great storytellers are teaching the next generation a lot about life – for better or worse.
Unfortunately, the current blend of creativity, technology, storytelling and media has set us adrift in a sea of stories. When I ask my students to list a favorite song, book, movie, or TV show, the choices in a class of twenty-five are often unique. The occasional story hits a wide demographic (The Hunger Games has been read or seen by maybe half the students), but in general there is tremendous diversity. This presents a dilemma: their stories provide a great way to engage with them in meaningful conversations about life, but I can’t possibly keep up.
In an effort to make the literary sea a bit smaller for those like me who want to know what’s shaping the next generation, I have begun posting reviews of entertainment that impacts a primarily young adult audience. I generally choose books, films and TV shows that make top ten lists or are headed to the big screen. I avoid the teen romance genre – but those books aren’t being turned into blockbuster movies, are they? Dystopias, horror, fantasy, sci-fi, and superheroes seem to be where all the action is right now. I, for one, am not complaining.
My goal is not to critique the art form as much as look at the worldview. Why do these stories resonate? What messages are being absorbed? How can we take the narratives that are shaping our culture and connect them to the greatest story of all?
I worked as a member of our Gang Detail for two years prior to entering our undercover team. It was a great season in my career and I still think of it often. I had a partner who was younger (and more culturally relevant) than I was, and he connected with street gangsters almost immediately. He knew how to “talk the talk” and “walk the walk,” and he had a better understanding of the street language of gangsters. It was several months before I felt comfortable in my assignment; I had to learn an entirely new language (and culture) in order to communicate effectively. I had to learn a new set of expressions and many new definitions. Even more importantly, I had to saturate myself in the street culture, and do my best to understand the desires, ambitions, concerns and motivations of young men who were often on the wrong side of the law.
Now as a Christian Case Maker, I still recognize the need to learn new languages and saturate myself in cultures different from my own. I’m still working with young people, after all. I’ve been thinking about communication a lot since attending the Evangelical Theological Society Annual Meeting in Baltimore last week. It was a very academic environment and the language used there (as theologians and philosophers presented papers on a variety of complex topics) may have seemed foreign to the uninitiated. There were even times when it was difficult for me to understand everything being said (and I have a seminary degree in Theological Studies), so I’m sure it would also have been difficult for others in the Church (and especially students in youth groups). That’s why it’s so important for us to learn a new language and become good translators. [Read more…]
Before you venture out on your voyage to becoming a community apologist, it’s time for a status check. Fellow CAA blogger, Austin Gravley, points out that becoming a community apologist ripples out from your relationship with Jesus. The next peak in the ripple: If you have a family, they are the first community for which you are responsible. Before you swim off to prevent or resolve the faith crises in your community, make sure you take care of the same issues in your own home.
All the polls in the past few years show a rapid increase in those who have left their religion, and a rapid decrease in church attendance. Read The Leavers: Young Doubters Exit the Church wherein Drew Dyck writes, [Read more…]
Contributed with the gracious permission of Chris Shannon, Executive Director at Reasonable Faith.
The Defense Never Rests – William Lane Craig
On Guard Companion DVD: Learn To Defend Your Faith – For Groups or Individuals
Ravi Zacharias Ministries ASK Curriculum
God Quest with Sean McDowell, Josh McDowell, Lee Strobel, and others
http://www.outreach.com/campaigns/godquest-church-resources.aspx [Read more…]