Wednesday, May 11, 2011

At the Movies with Students Part 2

Over the next week we're continuing to think about how to encourage teens to approach media; especially television, movies and music.

As they live their lives in the middle of culture it's the parent's and pastor's responsibility to equip them to engage media through the lens of truth.

There are seven question I love teens to consider when engaging with media. For the first two questions check out

"At the movies with students part 1".

Here are questions three and four.

How does it portray authority?

Honestly, this question may stem from my growing up in the 80's, but it's still relevant for today. It seems that every movie in some way showed parents, principles, coaches and police as either stupid or evil. One of my favorite movies was "Ferris Bueller's Day Off". Remember how clueless the parents were and how vindictive the principle was? We all wanted Ferris to succeed in his rebellion. My son Zach gets up every morning 1 ½ early so he can watch at least 2 episodes of "Saved by the Bell". One thing about that show that’s very interesting is that you rarely see parents. All the time I ‘m watching it thinking “where in the world is mom and dad”? Recently movies like "The Social Network" subtly portray authority negatively.

Sure, much of authority is corrupt and disconnected, but authority isn't the "a" word. God has established it for our good. Students need to see it clearly and Biblically.

Does it communicate anything about God?

Not every movie talks about or mentions God but many do. From the "Book of Eli" to the" Adjustment Bureau" to "Bruce Almighty", there are many opportunities to watch and reflect on what media is saying about God and learn how our culture views him. One of my favorite "Glee" episodes is the one about "grilled cheesus".

"Grilled Cheesus Preview"

If you haven't seen it you should check it out. It's an episode that sheds light on how a student who is totally disengaged from religion might view God and prayer.

The point is when we go to the theater, turn on the radio or watch our favorite TV show, media is teaching us something about God. Our students must ask good quesions and filter what they're seeing / hearing with truth.

Students are living in a world where there they have more access than ever before. They are interacting with media on many different levels. May we be people that help them think through what they're seeing and hearing.


  1. Yeah, the good ol' lead-from-a-distance days of just telling kids to avoid going to the movies or listening to "devilish" rock-n-roll are long gone. "Don't do it or else" was/is a pretty low-maintenance way of raising kids. Teaching our kids to actually think critically is a heck of a lot harder. Giving kids Spirit-inspired filters or lens through which to look at culture is far more difficult, yet a heckuva lot more valuable.

  2. Yep, thanks for the comment. It does seem a lot easier to just say NO than to encourage them to think.

  3. Minding your media is tough, especially when you consider how integral it is to our society, that being said I really appreciate writers like John Hughes, because his movies are transcendent across generations. I have students today who love Ferris Buller as if the movie came out yesterday.

  4. Yeah, and who doesn't love "Breakfast Club"? Even today it's a great thought provoking study into student culture.

    I wish he were still around.

  5. Over the next week? It should be always/often. We are drowning in media, critical intelligent thinking is so desperately needed for this generation.
    Breakfast Club is my all time favorite.

  6. Over the next week means I'm unpacking the material this week. Too lazy to write the whole thing in one day!

    Hey, looking for some good material for parents. Do you know of any?

  7. Walt Muller's 3D guide is super helpful in helping parents and students engage culture. Here's a link:

    So here's my question. At what point are we actually seeking to transform culture vs. consume?

  8. Great question, wouldn't you say that the most effective way to transform culture is to see the gospel transform one heart at a time?

    I know sometimes there's a push to get involved in the political system or those kind of shenanigans, but it seems cultural transformation comes from heart transformation. Especially if culture is a reflection of a particular group of people.

    What do you think?

  9. I definitely think a heart transformed is the best place to start. When the gospel gets a hold of your heart you have to question everything, especially the motives of your heart. (Mark 10 is really helpful here). Questioning your heart begins by asking questions, duh. Why am I watching this, do I want to find the redemptive narrative in it or do I just want to consume it?