Three Things This Week
1. Gen Z’s “Third Space”
What is it: With more than 200 Million registered gamers, Fortnite now doubles as a social hang-out space for teens.
Why it’s not just a game: Quartzy states Fortnite is this generation’s “third space” to connect between work and school. Students flock to “video games like pubs, coffee shops, and other hangouts of old to make new friends and build social bonds.” And according to players, the environment is more friendly and less toxic than other social platforms. Maybe this explains some of the Fortnite’s mass appeal, because, well, it’s not just a game! How can you help your teen create a “third space” that isn’t online? Hanging out with friends on Fortnite is fun, but nothing can replace face to face relationships.
2. Merry Bingemas
Why it’s noteworthy: High School drama On My Block topped their charts and 13 Reasons Why: Season 2 came in third. Even more interesting, the top three streamed “Netflix Original” shows were all high school rom-coms (The Kissing Booth, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and Roxanne Roxanne). If this data is an indicator, Netflix’s primary audience just might be Gen Z, which means more student dramedies are on their way in 2019 including a sequel of “TATBILB”. After checking out their most watched shows, ask your teens which ones they binged, which were their favorites, and why.
3. Axis + You = Better Together!
What it is: Every week our team spends countless hours researching teen culture so you don’t have to, equipping thousands of parents just like you to start conversations with their kids that last a lifetime.
Why we need you: What makes Axis and The Culture Translator special is also our greatest need. Giving weekly insights to parents all over the world takes theological insight, extensive research, and practical guidance. To continue our mission, we need your help! We’re raising $76,000 at year-end to fund the ongoing research needed to keep you ahead of culture in 2019. Click here to make your year-end gift today. Also, check out our latest video to see what our team is creating for your family in the coming months! Because of faithful readers like you, we’ve already raised $10,800 toward our goal. Thanks for making your gift today!
A Season of Treason
One of the unfortunate realities of our modern Christmas commemorations is the reduction of Christ’s’ birth to a sweet, sentimental story of a tiny baby wrapped in swaddling clothes, lowing cattle, and gentle shepherds. But the advent of our Lord was anything but sappy, it was incredibly subversive! Mary prophesied her child would scatter the proud, bring down the mighty from their thrones, and send the rich away empty handed. The Psalmist proclaims He will “defend the cause of the poor, give deliverance to the needy, and crush the oppressor.” Maybe that’s why Herod wanted him killed. This Christ-child we worship didn’t merely come into the world to reign in our hearts, but to inaugurate His kingdom come and his will done on earth as it is in heaven.
The Gospel writers understood this better than anyone. At the time of Jesus’ birth there was already a man who was called divine, son of god, and god from god. His titles were “Lord”, “Redeemer”, “Liberator”, and “Savior of the world”. His name? Caesar Augustus. To give these titles to Jesus was thereby to deny them of Caesar. That was either a strange coincidence or “it was what the Romans call maiestas and we call high treason”! This language places Jesus in direct opposition to any political power claiming our ultimate allegiance both then and now. Simply put, Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not. Proclaiming that is dangerous, even today. It might just get you crucified.
As you celebrate Christmas with your family, remember there’s more to this sweet story than meets the eye. The rightful king arrived meek and lowly to put the powers that be on notice. Rome’s imperial politic of power was replaced with the Kingdom politics of love. As citizens in this kingdom, our lives are now re-oriented around a new administration and a new constitution. So if you want to keep Christ in Christmas, there’s no better way to do it than feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, welcoming the foreigner, caring for the poor, loving your enemies, and doing unto others what you would have them do unto you. Then, there will be peace on earth and goodwill toward men. Amen.
We’re updating our Conversation Kit on evangelism and want your input! What questions/doubts have you been hearing from the teens in your life? What do you wish you could show them about evangelism and the gospel?
9 PREMIUM INSIGHTS
A broader look at the world that teens inhabit.
Skim our summary or click the links to read more.
Engage your teens in conversation about their world.
They said it best:
“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
– Mary Oliver, The Summer Day
1. Can your son or daughter leave the house without their phone? If not, they may be suffering from Nomophobia, or the fear of being without their smartphone. The condition is so widespread that Cambridge Dictionary made Nomophobia their word of the year. Have them take this test to see if they have it!
2. For thousands of families, Christmas Day involves a trip to the movies! If that’s one of your family’s traditions, here’s the top 15 movies playing nationwide.
3. Blue bloods hit the hardwood on Saturday giving college hoops fans an early Christmas present. Kentucky plays North Carolina while Kansas takes on the Arizona State. The winners get a head start on the road to the Final Four.
4. 21 Savage dropped his new album i am > i was today, and although it still contains some of the worn out themes of wealth and women, the song “a lot” hints at a more contemplative posture toward his opulent lifestyle as he wonders just how healthy or unhealthy it is to have everything he desires. The song feels like a modern rendition of Ecclesiastes. “Vanity of vanities: all is vanity.”
5. Asked about the new, difficult climate men find themselves in due to the #MeToo movement, Idris Elba remarked, “It’s only difficult if you’re a man with something to hide.” He’s right. Our sons shouldn’t have anything to be afraid of if they treat women with respect and live lives of sexual purity. The Apostle Paul reminds us “there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity” among Christ-followers. May your sons be the example this generation needs in resisting the age-old trope to treat women as second-class citizens and sexual objects by elevating the dignity and full equality of women at school, work, church, and home.
6. CNN released “their most talked about moments of 2018” and to no one’s surprise, the entertainment industry started most of the cultural conversations this year. From Black Panther and Beyonce, to Childish Gambino’s “This is America”, one of the most talked about subjects was black empowerment in an increasingly racist age. It’s unfortunate the church isn’t leading the way in naming and calling out racial injustice. How wonderful would it be if one year CNN highlighted Christians as leading the cultural conversations surrounding racial injustice and inequality?
7. In California, legislators are encouraging students to sleep in a little as they try to push the start of the school day back to 8:30 a.m. Research shows teens need up to 10 hours of sleep a night, and pilot programs already in place have proven a later start time actually leads to better grades, especially for under-resourced children.
8. A new report from the CDC shows professionals in the entertainment and media sector are the third most likely profession to commit suicide. This might come as a surprise to teens who only see the glitz and glamour of the entertainment industry and not the dark side of fame and fortune.
Making it worse, Kanye West, who’s been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder, tweeted that he can’t be creative while taking his psychiatric meds and so he’s been off them for six months. In quitting his meds, West is “promoting one of mental health’s most persistent and dangerous myths: that suffering is necessary for great art.” Creativity isn’t born in depression, but in health. Artists might have the ability to plumb the depths of the soul in ways engineers cannot, but that doesn’t mean their creative energy must be birthed in pain. Talk to your son or daughter about this prevailing myth, especially if they are in the arts. Here’s six practical ways to boost your teen’s creativity!
Tip of the Week
9. Today is winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere, the shortest, darkest day of the year. Human beings have observed this special day for thousands of years, as even ancient cultures understood the power and meaning of light piercing the darkness to bring flourishing into the world. It’s no wonder the Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” Our world feels like a dark place these days. There are wars and rumors of wars, famine, a global refugee crisis, and fears of catastrophic climate change. But because of Christ, the light is winning. In fact, it’s already won. As you celebrate Christmas with your family this year, light a candle, decorate your house like Clark Griswold, or simply take in the luminous beauty of the season by proclaiming to all the world that although we are a people walking in darkness, “we have seen a great light”, and that light has dawned to light the way for everyone.
Keep the Faith!
The Axis Team
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