Three Things This Week
1. The Mandalorian Joins the Cast of Fortnite
What it is: Fortnite gamers can now play as their favorite characters from the Disney Plus streaming hit, The Mandalorian. All they have to do is purchase a battle pass for the game’s latest update, Chapter 2, Season 5.
Why it’s the latest coup for Disney: The Star Wars adventure show The Mandalorian is far and away the most popular offering on Disney’s massively successful streaming service. With over 73 million subscribers, Disney Plus has blown past its first-year projections and become a mainstay in many households. This latest collaboration means that it’s about to get even more subscribers, as Epic Games has teamed up with Disney to offer two free months of Disney Plus for any in-game Fortnite purchase made with real-world cash for a limited time. What’s more, the Mandalorian himself is the perfect character for this season of Fortnite, which focuses on bounty hunters. Mando may live in a galaxy far, far away, but this is a match made in branded content heaven.
2. Searching for God Knows What
What it is: BibleGateway.com reports that their search engines saw an uptick this year in people trying to determine what the Bible says about social justice, disease, and social upheaval.
Why it’s a thrill of, well, hope: In a general sense, 2020 brought us a lot more questions than it did answers. With all of the unexpected difficulty, death, and disease that this year contained, it’s a little frustrating to be closing out December sans an idea of how things will be much different going forward. Bible Gateway’s search statistics for the year indicated that there was a growing curiosity to understand what God has to say about all of this. Searches for politics, pestilence, pandemic, and plague might have been surging, but so was a sense of wonder about the Gospel. John 3:16 and Jeremiah 29:11 remained the most popular verses, and the top two search terms (“love” and “peace”) were joined by “hope” as the most-searched terms. People drawing close to God’s Word is the best possible outcome to the troubles of this world, so these stats are heartening.
3. TikTok, Here Comes Your Shot
What it is: The hashtag #CovidVaccine gains 36 million views as viral TikToks seek to give viewers information about the Covid-19 vaccine process, particularly the trial phase.
Why it means most of Gen Z will be lining up to get vaxxed: For many of us, it’s hard to trust a vaccine that was manufactured and tested in a hurry and away from view. But Gen Z actually watched the trial process unfold by watching TikTokers who were trial participants detail the experience, step-by-step. They’ve been lectured at by epidemiologists, virologists, and public health experts on the vaccine approval process, all in minute-long increments and sometimes with Dua Lipa in the background. The incoming Covid-19 vaccine may be required for activities like international travel, college enrollment, and even concert attendance. After learning so much about the vaccine online, it’s unlikely that most of Gen Z will resist getting it.
Spotlight: This time of year is always a critical fundraising season for non-profit organizations. But more than just a year-end gift, we’d love to ask you to thoughtfully consider joining the Axis Legacy Club with a monthly gift. By partnering with us on a monthly basis, you are empowering exponentially bigger goals for engaging parents and their teens. Click here to make a monthly donation!
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter
Maybe you’ve heard the phrase, “If you want to see America in 10 years, look at Europe now.” We usually see a more “progressive” future there, especially on issues like gender. Yet the High Court in Britain ruled in favor of Keira Bell, who experienced gender dysphoria as a teen and was rushed into hormone therapy, but now wishes she hadn’t been. The Court’s verdict was that children under 16 are unable to give informed consent to hormone therapy—and that clinics now must seek court authorization before starting such treatment. It’s a step below requiring parent authorization, but it’s a start.
As three prominent doctors reported to the American Supreme Court, “between 80 and 95 percent of children who say that they are transgender naturally come to accept their sex and to enjoy emotional health by late adolescence.” The pressure in the medical field has often been to help clients with gender dysphoria conform bodies to minds instead of minds to bodies—to make the external conform to the internal. As Carl Trueman explains in The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, this development didn’t happen overnight: Rousseau wrote in the 1700s about the absolute authority of the “inner voice,” laying the groundwork for our culture’s preference of internal feelings, even in the face of opposing evidence.
Part of Trump’s legacy will be his crusade against “fake news.” Yet after stirring up so much skepticism about the trustworthiness of major publications, we shouldn’t be surprised when that skepticism starts affecting more than its original targets. When external truth sources are suspect, teens are driven even deeper into a reliance on internal feelings for guidance. So when evangelicals like Eric Metaxas continue to insist that Donald Trump won the 2020 election “in a landslide,” we shouldn’t be surprised when teens believe it’s okay to insist on their own narrative in the face of opposing evidence.
We’re all for investigation of fraud. As Robert Vischer writes, “When the world sees Christians as gullible, naïve and unwilling to do the hard work of critically evaluating information, we lose credibility on everything—including our assertions about the historical veracity of the gospel.” But by the same logic, when the evidence convinces even Bill Barr that the fraud is negligible, our commitment should be to the truth. How we react now always sets a precedent for later.