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Going Antiviral

Posted by Axis on August 06, 2021

3 THINGS THIS WEEK

1. Honey Nuts 

What it is: TikTok’s latest food craze is frozen honey

Why it’s not so wholesome: #FrozenHoney and #FrozenHoneyChallenge are both racking up views in the hundreds of millions. Making this chilled treat is not exactly rocket science and is, in fact, exactly what it sounds like: participants fill a water bottle with honey, stick it in the freezer, and then pour out a giant glob of chilled golden goodness (which they film themselves consuming, naturally). There’s one problem, though; consuming honey in large quantities has an unfortunate digestive side effect. Many TikTokers have confessed they had to run to the bathroom immediately after they did the #FrozenHoneyChallenge. While it’s probably not going to cause lasting health damage for most teens, this is one concoction perhaps best left untasted. 

2. Going Antiviral 

What it is: The New York Times reports that the White House has enlisted online influencers as their emissaries to encourage people between the ages of 12 and 18 to get vaccinated for COVID-19. 

Why it might not work: Gen Z has the lowest rates of coronavirus vaccination of any age group in the United States. The reasons behind this are, well, complicated. It would appear that the Biden administration is prioritizing their messaging to teenagers by enlisting big-name young celebs like singer Olivia Rodrigo and a small army of Twitch, TikTok, and YouTubers to promote the vaccine on their accounts. Local and state governments are taking a similar approach, hiring social media agencies and even paying out contracts to young influencers with smaller followings to spread vaccine positivity. But as any young and very online person knows, organic online movements are far more effective at influencing real-life behavior than paid-for campaigns. 

3. Pray Away

What it is: A documentary called Pray Away on Netflix traces the “conversion therapy” movement’s evolution, from its inception in the 1970s up to present day. 

Why it’s getting a lot of attention: The documentary reflects changing attitudes about using support groups and prayer to redirect a person’s sexual orientation. But it doesn’t necessarily seek to slam Christian traditions, beliefs, and practices. In fact, one could argue that Pray Away offers compassion to several different viewpoints, including some of the former proponents of conversion therapy who say they now regret ever advocating for it. In many places, conversion therapy has actually been banned by law, which makes this documentary less timely than it could be, and some LGBTQ+ advocates feel the documentary isn’t actually critical enough of the founders of the conversion therapy movement. Unfortunately some viewers of Pray Away may conclude that there is no way out of a homosexual lifestyle, or they may simply conclude that broken people, like all of us are, aren’t always capable of discerning how to help other broken people, no matter how well-founded their intentions. 

Slang of the Week: 

Bet: to agree with or confirm a plan

Ex: (Person One): I’ll meet you at the cafeteria to cut seventh period, if you’re down. (Person Two): Bet.

Moral Philosophy for Zoomers 

Being a moral person has never been easy. Competing questions of the “right” ways of how to live have haunted philosophers for centuries, with the most eloquent and well-educated among them often conceding that morality and righteousness are fated to be tangled mysteries within the confines of our human frailties. But for Gen Z, living “rightly” has become ever-more complex. 

Bureaucrats and “cancel culture” seek to legislate morality, seemingly divorcing virtue from meaning in the process. We depend on technologies that openly admit to exploiting our attention, apps that “game-ify” the human experience and that leverage our desires with endless opportunities for consumption. Moments of focus and quiet have been replaced by platitudes toward “self-care” and “mindfulness.” 

While I Thessalonians 4:11 urges us to “aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,” the acts of posting, leaving comments for strangers, and assembling a digital alter-ego fly in the face of these very ideals. So what is a young person to do? 

Getting it right can start by admitting how very often we get it wrong. That means approaching these big questions with humility and a still, softened heart. By modeling these behaviors, we become people our teens want to talk to. 

Access to all of the information in the world can’t substitute for cultivating our attention and caring for our eternal well-being.  Our souls belong to God, and not the world. If we could simply think ourselves into righteous beings, a brilliant mind would have found a way to do it long ago. Thankfully, our salvation comes not in the form of technological innovation or our inner genius, but in the form of a Savior who took on frailty to save us from our own.  

Discussion Questions: 

  • What are the unique challenges to figuring out how to be a good person or do the right thing in this time in history? 
  • What is the difference between being a good person and emulating Jesus? 
  • How can we practically set boundaries between technology and our current culture wars so that we can pursue Jesus without restriction? 

Keep the Faith!

- The Axis Team

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