Nov 082017
 

Last night we had a difficult conversation with T.

He’s fifteen and fifteen is hard.

You don’t know who you are yet, but you’re not wanting anybody else to define your identity…especially parents.

You look at everyone around you and you look at the culture to help you make your own choices.

Our conversation was around video games and what loosely passes for “music” these days.

He wanted to play a game that his friends all play online.

They really want him to play with him.

He wants to be accepted by his peers.

The game is nothing more than virtual murder practice.

“You only shoot bad guys…”

I felt defiled even hearing about it.

We said no…what you put in in your mind is what comes out.

Murder in, murder out.

The music is worse.

“Gangsta” rap is not some celebration of ethnic culture as much as a tool to totally destroy any culture, youth first.

I don’t give a damn who that offends…

You can’t put violence, disrespect, and misogyny, to music and expect a non violent, respectful, response from those who ingest it audibly.

We said no, again.

In doing so we pretty much isolated a kid who already feels alone.

When I got home there came the news from not far away of a 16 year old boy who slaughtered his family.

He shot them.

16.

He may as well be 100 because his life is now every bit as over as those he killed.

We will have more discussions about the guns and we should.

People will want to know if he was medicated with psychotropic drugs and that’s worth discussing.

What we won’t ask is who his favorite musical artists are or what his hobbies were.

We won’t even consider what impact the things we glorify as entertainment and cultural expression did to help bring him to this moment.

We won’t ask because the answer might indict all of us.

Maybe a lot of us have blood on our hands.

Maybe a lot of the things we celebrate are as deadly as assault rifles.

Maybe we really celebrate violence as a culture.

Maybe we need to ask different questions…

  84 Responses to “Celebrating Violence”

  1. Hate to be first here with one of my pontifications… (Hope someone comments before I finish this)
    T is between a rock and a hard place now – from his viewpoint and he is so blessed that you understand that.
    We (society) have got to be better educated on this incredible organ, the brain… Studies with the technology available today, have given us so much information and understanding – in some ways it is a fragile organ and we are much more at its mercy when it comes to processing impulses and actions resulting from its health than is generally understood…
    God said to renew our minds (I think He meant our thought processor, our grey matter) He said to wash them .. with His Word
    “Murder in, murder out” that observation is correct
    It is almost as if there is an evil conspiracy at work keeping us ignorant of what we’re doing to our youth

  2. Such a difficult issue. Students look at me like I’m from another planet when I mention the downfalls of much of what is entertainment targeted at our youth. Lord, have mercy.

  3. “It is almost as if there is an evil conspiracy at work keeping us ignorant of what we’re doing to our youth.”

    Just the way Old Screwtape would have it.

  4. Michael

    I think I’ve said it before, but often I look at top ten streaming charts for music. It is not unusual to have half or (usually) more with the label “Explicit Lyrics” next to the song. It has become normal… and it shouldn’t be.

  5. CK,

    My respect for teachers has never been higher .

    You folks should be treated and prayed for as missionaries…

  6. Duane,

    It is the new normal in media and entertainment…and we’re paying for it now and will keep paying for it later.

  7. “Who’s In Charge? ” author Michael Gazzaniga is an easy read (secular) – I could understand it. 😏 if I may presume to mention one ..
    there are others out there, but Gazzaniga has bona fides galore and is recognized as a pioneer in this field
    This topic is more critical to the health and future of the nation than any of the hot topics giving us all so much angst today … IMNSHO …
    I wish there were more popular exposure to this subject… but today everything gets so distorted by those with the ability to make noise, but not the ability to think with discernment … or so it seems to me – dunno, tho, do i?

  8. Michael,

    I think you’ve written or commented here before on Jeremiah’s letter to the exiles in Babylon. Many good EO writers get the “living in exile” theology really well. I’m all for well informed and active citizenship in a Republic such as ours, but only with a strong and predominant notion that Christians are in exile. Certainly when it comes to raising children, picking a church, choosing a spouse, spending our time, etc.

  9. Jean,

    I think that the exilic understanding of our place at this stage of the kingdom is vital.

    The other doctrine I used to talk about is the fact that there is a devil and he is busy…but neither doctrine gets much traction…

  10. My comments were not to distract from the problem Christians, particularly those mentoring children face – the hostility and marginalizing they. face when dealing with this problem – my hope was to enforce the fact that, like all Christian standards, the objections we raise are based on realism, not prejudice or fantasy

  11. Michael, our advisory – the devil – is most certainly alive and well … too bad the Church for a variety of reasons, for reasons well intentioned and bad, has neutralized our adversary in Christian thinking … we need more preachers who cater to God, not to contemporary latest and greatest ideas? maybe? dunno

    p.s. Love Screwtape, Captain K

  12. As long as the Rap/Hip-Hop industry can make a dime with their product it won’t change. I’ve seen from being with inner city high school kids during the school day how it works. We have a generation of kids who are more concerned with status than reality. (a rejoinder – Adolescents have always been more concerned with status than reality).

    However, status for my students happens to cost them more than status cost my generation. Status today requires expensive clothes, and shoes, and more to the point more expensive drugs. Most of my kids are stoned out of their minds on marijuana that is essentially ten times more potent that the weed we had in school and it costs a fortune for them. From where I stand the issues of violence revolve out of drugs, and gangs than from Rap and Hip Hop. San Bernardino, where I teach, is a swirling cesspool of drugs, gangs, and sex trafficing. How do we stop it? I’m not really sure. I digress.

    From my perspective it’s less about the entertainment, which is on the periphery and takes our eyes off the deeper social problems.

    It was relatively easy for me to guide my boy through the maze. But, I didn’t have to deal with him being drawn into trouble by certain high school cliques. From my observations over the years, kids get into more trouble from peer pressure than anything else. What who your kid associates with more than how they entertain themselves.

    Rule One – Keep talking with them. Ask a lot of open ended questions. Don’t let them get away with answering yes, no, or I don’t know. I know I drove my son nuts by drilling him with questions. The pay off is that he knows his mom and I really care about him and what he does. Just kid them close.

  13. Great post and great job, dad!

    I had three teens at once, and we all survived…

    Hold the line.

  14. Jim,
    You’re a much stronger man than me. 🙂
    One is more than I can handle…

  15. Michael

    Two responses:

    1. If you need assistance with your Form 1023 for this website or any church type organization, feel free to ask it of me. I have done dozens of these through the years, including parachurch organizations and the like. I fact, I just completed one for Christian Youth Theater here in Denver, so I have all the polcies, etc. already in Word form.

    2. What you express here so simply and correctly is what I wish I could have composed myself in response to Duane’s thread which was “closed.” There are practical,issues to be discussed as was done on the thread, for better or worse, and social issues that also need discussion and, perhaps, are more paramount in addressing the violence in our society. Legislation can only go so far especially with a behemoth and cumbersome government and there are responsibilities that our society, churches, and families have neglected to address that have been punted to other institutions. Thanks for making the point. Well taken.

  16. Michael,
    Thank God T has you.

  17. “Rule One – Keep talking with them. Ask a lot of open ended questions. Don’t let them get away with answering yes, no, or I don’t know. I know I drove my son nuts by drilling him with questions. The pay off is that he knows his mom and I really care about him and what he does. Just kid them close.”

    This is gold David H. Thank you.

  18. Too many kids don’t have adults around who they know care about them and love them. Having that, alone, would help to save a generation.

    We have way too many adults in this country who don’t know how to love others. I watch it day in and day out. The teachers I work with, and I, are seemingly the only people who care for our kids. I go home almost every day with a smile on my face knowing that we’ve made a difference with our kids. And, it’s not about the subjects, it’s about the relationships.

    From my heart, just remember next time you see a teenager that doesn’t fit your mold, that’s a kid who might not have anyone that really loves them. Yes, the kid might be trouble, or in trouble, but he’s a kid. We don’t coddle them, but we should show that we have hope for them. This doesn’t mean we let them get away with things. It means we try to prevent evil from taking over.

    One kid at a time.

  19. I can speak from experience as to how easily kids normalize mayhem… I was 5 1/2 when we enter WW2 (I had watched a P38 flying overhead go into a tailspin and crash just a couple of blocks from where I stood when I was not yet 5)… I don’t know if blackouts and air raid drills were regular events throughout the country, they were on the west coast… a major aircraft producer a few miles from our house was covered in camouflage netting and we had all sorts of “stuff” required in case of being bombed (the block warden made sure you complied) and then there were the service stars in peoples’ windows (sometimes, walking to school, you’d see a blue star replaced by a silver or gold and you knew what that meant)…
    9 1/2 years old when VJ day came, I recall wondering just who we’d fight next, who the enemy would be? As a child, war and bad guys was what I thought life in the real world was all about…
    It isn’t hard at all for me to see the dangers we face in the future as we raise a generation who think that minds distorted by music, gangs and drugs is the real world – it will take an act of God to interrupt this IMV and it is very frightening…
    It isn’t the fact that people are worse than we were, it is what they are growing up to think is normal that frightens me

  20. Remember in the 80s Dungeons & Dragons – and Tipper Gore fighting the rap music? My kids were teens in the late 80s. I remember my one son came home with nipple rings and dressed in black. I told him I didn’t care what he looked like, what he wore etc as long as he did not take on the attitude – which he didn’t. It grossed me out a bit when his younger brother came home with a tongue barbell.
    They would go back and forth between Goth and Miami Vice wardrobes. Their sister, the oldest – well she was her own set of issues. Raising my two boys was not half the effort as my daughter. Hey, they survived and we did too – like Jim, 3 teens at once. I now have 3 teen grandkids.

    In the end, my kids were somewhat afraid of my consequences, but the thing that kept them from going over the edge was not wanting to disappoint their mother.

    Today? 3 highly skilled professionals in their 40s – living the nightmare of raising their kids – my 7 grandkids.

  21. MLD, your soothing words do not ameliorate the situation… the teachers here attest to the fact that they are coping with kids who do not have the parents that you and Mrs. MLD gave your three
    I realize that old people like me tend to think the world is going to hell… if not to hell, it seems to be in a slippery slope downhill to somewhere
    I won’t say there’s no hope, but … the direction needs a shift … real soon

  22. Lots of good stuff in your posts John 20:29.

    Keep it coming….

  23. I must be a starry eyed optimist. I don’t think our kids today are on a slippery slope to hell. They have their issues to live through – some do it better than others.

  24. Michael, like you one was all i could handle. Lol. Keep the lines of communication open…take the opportunities when you find them to say, ” oh yea,……btw……” even one sentence will make them think……if you go on a tirade they close down and dont listen.

    But…..you know all this, you have done this before. You can and are doing a great job! You are raising a fine young man.

  25. Don’t get me started on the trash they call music now…ick!

  26. MLD, it isn’t the kids – it is the environment… where do you suggest our (not church kids, but the population in general) teens can find solid footing today? How many wasted brains and wasted bodies can a society absorb and still function? 😕
    It is entirely possible there will be a turn around – maybe even an awakening… and we can pray for it, we should pray for it

    God keep us all close … and praying

  27. It’s a mine field out there these days MLD. The best we can do as parents, grandparents, teachers etc. is pay attention and don’t assume everything is ok. I think this is possible without becoming a “helicopter” parent.

  28. Joel, it’s always a mine field. I remember when my kids were younger in the early 80s James Dobson saying that his goal as a parent (and remember he is a half a generation ahead of me) was to raise his kids to 18 alive and not in jail – still the same today.

  29. #15 Jeff

    Absolutely agreed…

  30. Ha yes I remember hearing that. He is right about that. Although, there are worse things than going to jail. The quiet desensitation to violence, sexual immorality etc. is a quiet death to our souls. I think there’s a lot more neglected kids these days that are vulnerable to these traps. A lot of brokenness and loneliness beneath all of the “worldliness”.

  31. “I remember when my kids were younger in the early 80s James Dobson saying that his goal as a parent (and remember he is a half a generation ahead of me) was to raise his kids to 18 alive and not in jail – still the same today.”

    Not where I live.

  32. Well I don’t think it was the ideal or end goal. I think it was commentary on the continual difficulty of raising kids to adulthood with everything society throws as roadblocks.
    I got my kids there and they have gotten themselves to where it is their job to get my grandkids to adulthood alive and not in jail. 🙂

  33. MLD,
    Thank God your kids had a father who provided consequences and a mother whom they respected enough not to want to disappoint.

    Many of my students have neither of those. I can point out to you which children, without miraculous intervention, will be in a gang, which ones will be strung out on drugs, which ones already are, who will be in jail, and who will be dead before their 16th birthdays. I’m not a pessimist. I just know what I’ve seen and how it has changed in 30 years as an educator.

  34. CK,
    I agree – but you need to go back 40 years when Dobson was writing his books. What was his motivation? – the same as we are discussing here. The breakdown of the home, marriage, family and the alienation of our kids.
    Even when I was Teen in the mid 60s, families were broken, the kids drugged up, living on the streets or in the canyons.
    Growing up is a tough endeavor and you are to be commended for working in the system.

  35. When our son was 2, my then not ex was in the laundromat across the street from her parents’ house. A 30 something gang member told them, “we’ll see him in a few years!” He was 2! She shot back some choice words, and the guy smirked, “we’ll see!” Norteño or Sureño, red or blue, does it matter?

    Our district enforces uniforms until high school. My son told me last year that his 1st grade buddy was called out in a non school setting on his colors, “who do you claim?” Really?

    It makes my concerns about Minecraft or Five Night’s At Freddy’s (a resurgence of a ’90s game) seem tame.

    A few weeks ago, he came home with some strange wooden blocks and said that they were his Illuminati. ??? I asked him what that meant, but he didn’t start talking about the NWO or Bohemian Grove, thankfully.

    I was a teen in the 80s, and well remember D&D, Tipper Gore and later music labeling. Later, I also remember the trench coat mafia and Columbine… in 2007-2008, mentoring at-risk youth who were so alienated from their peers and family. As a mentor, I tried to see it from their side, alienated from their families. Going through that, my goal was that my kids never ended up in such a program.

    My son admitted tonight that he knew we had a PS3 which we use for Netflix, DVDs and YouTube. I won’t get shooter games, ever, and I don’t use it for gaming for them (I do let them play other games on my phone and tablet, the most violent thing a 1941 “bullet hell” plane game).

  36. Every statistic I’ve read shows a clear trend in the deterioration of 2 parent households. And there are other negative trends we could identify.

    https://www.statista.com/statistics/242244/percentage-of-us-households-by-type/

  37. Jean, the breakup of the family and the increasing lack of fathers in the home is definitely the root issue.
    We need to make marriage an actual contract issue and we need to eliminate no fault divorce.

  38. I tend to think that the “new obedience” that the Holy Spirit produces in Christians is through the Gospel, not the Law. I think Christians need to hear more Gospel, which has practically been banished in many American churches. Maybe we should come out with a line of baseball hats saying: Make the Gospel Great Again. Do you like the ring?

    As far as the civil society, no one is going to eliminate no fault divorce. What Christians can do is evangelize their neighbors.

  39. Post millennialists believe that the church will bring the perfect society and usher in the return of Christ. Not me
    Its funny that this wasn’t your answer to the gun question – evangelize our neighbors and through the gospel they will give up their guns.

    This is the issue – no one will give up their stuff (no fault divorce or guns) on their own.

  40. Maybe not conflating separate issues (having entirely different risk profiles) is funny to you, but not to me.

  41. The Gospel frees us from our own sins and allows us to be honest about our own violent habits toward ourselves and neighbors. It may take a lifetime to change with the gel pen of His Spirit. But our neighbors will notice the love we have for them as we view their sin with compassion rather than anger because we suffer from the same disease. This is the power of the Gospel: Love.

  42. Gel pen = help. Stupid autocorrect

  43. Quite honestly, I’m not concerned in the slightest about our popular culture. I think popular culture is influenced by underlying social issues far more than it drives those social issues. If you got rid of guns and violent music and video games tomorrow it wouldn’t change anything because the underlying social stressors would all still be there.

  44. Jeff,

    You’ll be hearing from me…

  45. I’ve played first person shooters, I’ve listened to rap and death metal, I’ve watched violent movies. I don’t feel sullied or less kind or caring for having done so. When I look at all the people I grew up with who also did those things, I don’t see any harm. They seem like decent, functional people who for the most part are maintaining solid relationships, holding down jobs, and caring attentively for their children.

  46. I have another theory on this stuff as well…

    I don’y believe our brains were made to take the constant visual stimulation they endure from modern technology.

    Further more, we’ve become passive receptors of it all without even knowing it.

    The constant overstimulation makes us anxious when it is removed and affects sleep patterns and personality.

  47. j2,

    We went above and beyond our opinions and consulted with both the pediatrician and psychiatrist.

    They both advised that these things can be harmful and should be very carefully monitored.

  48. Michael,

    There are negative physiological and psychological affects from prolonged elevated levels of cortisol.

  49. Underlying social issues = human depravity?
    What are the social issues? Are guns, ugly lyrics, and violent video games symptoms of cause? Which are the chickens and which are the eggs… see something like that… 😐

  50. not ‘of” … OR cause… this auto correct tablet is annoying

  51. #48 Michael

    Our next door neighbor is a Child Psychiatrist… he says the same. Having been in practice for some decades, he’s very concerned about his increased case load since the mid 90s…

  52. #49 – not ‘see’ OR. … think I’d better quit – put down the tablet and step away with my hands above my head. 😬

  53. Em,

    You’re doing well…good stuff.

  54. Duane,

    Our psychiatrist and his wife (who is also in practice) became so overwhelmed with their caseload that they had to drop a number of patients.

    We were concerned we may be among them, but made the cut.

    I’m hoping that’s a positive thing… 🙂

  55. ***They both advised that these things can be harmful and should be very carefully monitored***

    I would agree with that. Pretty much anything a kid does can be harmful and they should be monitored, but it doesn’t make these things inherently bad or harmful, particularly if they’re engaged in with moderation.

  56. “Pretty much anything a kid does can be harmful and they should be monitored, but it doesn’t make these things inherently bad or harmful, particularly if they’re engaged in with moderation.”

    I fail to see any redeeming value in practicing murder or pumping violence and misogyny through headphones into your brain and spirit.

    I will even go so far to say that the music in particular is simply evil and possibly even demonic.

    Some may escape harm from it, but I’m not risking my godson to find out.

  57. ***Underlying social issues = human depravity?***

    I suppose human depravity is as good a name for it as anything. Unstable family structures–divorce, abuse, neglect, loneliness, and a lack of any sort of goal or sense of purpose in life are probably huge contributors to people not seeing value in others or the world around them. No longer being able to shoot pretend aliens on a video screen isn’t going to take away those greater problems and stressors.

  58. During my freshman year in college I first saw the video game, “Doom”. Some of my dormmates played the game quite regularly. On one hand, I had never seen a video game that was so graphically cool (nowadays the graphics would probably be considered laughable). On the other hand, a game based totally on going around and shooting everybody, even if it was just the bad guys and evil creatures you were shooting, just did not sit right with me. It just did not seem like a healthy thing to participate in. I had an uneasiness with it then and probably would even much more so with some of the games today.

    I think Michael hits on another issue that contributes to the increasing violent society we see today, culminating in some of the terrible mass murders we have seen recently. Now, I don’t think violent video games or violent music or violent movies and tv causes everyone who partakes in them with some regularity to lash out violently. But I would be the least surprised to learn that these things are an influencing factor in some cases.

    Guns are the easy thing to go after when we see one of these mass killings. And I do think there should be some additional measures that should be put in place that are stubbornly resisted by some segments of our society. But I do think there are also so many other factors that are contributing to the violence, factors that are ignorantly or even sometimes willfully ignored by segments of our society.

    There has always been trouble with violence in our culture. But I think the trend is getting increasingly worse.

  59. ***I fail to see any redeeming value in practicing murder or pumping violence and misogyny through headphones into your brain and spirit.***

    I’m not arguing that there’s value to those things. I am however not convinced that getting rid of these things would cause any sort of substantive improvement in the world because violence and disrespect for life spring from deeper places and issues than video games. If a person is not struggling with those deeper issues, then I haven’t seen much that would lead me to believe playing a first person shooter would turn them into dangerous or troubled people.

  60. I mentioned above somewhere on this thread being a young child during WW2, the effect that had was to find myself thinking at age 9 that war was normal, was how the real world was and would be (the terrorists know what they’re doing enlisting children to their ranks)
    The children of the baby boom, raised by those who fought the war grew up to think war wasn’t right or normal…
    My point is? Someone or something is molding the children today and who is nurturing them, raising them with sound minds and values?
    Somewhere it has been said that you raise a child in the way he/she should go and when they are old, they will not depart from it… so maybe the question is, how do we want our children to go? Sadly the Church and society may give different answers, eh?

  61. Em,

    Part of the problem is that often due to economic factors the parents are either not present or already exhausted.
    Technology has provided us with many virtual babysitters…all of which deliver messages.

  62. Good points KevinH. When I watch NFL games (too violent? Hmmmm) I see commercials for the new WW2 Call of Duty game. Now I’m interested in history as much as the next guy but I doubt a single WW2 vet would want to relive the hell of war as entertainment. We’ve gotten to a place where virtual war is fun. Hmmmm.

  63. Joel,

    That’s the game we were disputing over.
    It’s not shooting odd looking aliens, but very realistic humans.

    It’s sick.

  64. ***There has always been trouble with violence in our culture. But I think the trend is getting increasingly worse.***

    I guess it depends on what exactly you have in mind when you talk about violence. Statistically, murder rates have gone down quite a bit over the last 2 decades. And at least in some respects we’re less tolerant of the abuse and harassment of women that we used to be–the response to the allegations against Weinstein and Bill Cosby et al as compared to the response to the allegations against Clarence Thomas would indicate that.

    I’m not convinced that things are particularly worse or trending to worse than they have ever been. Every single generation seems compelled to freak out about how bad things are becoming, but that doesn’t mean there are objective reasons for that freaking out.

  65. You’re a good Dad, Michael. These kids will appreciate it in the long run even though it’s hard now. As Em alluded to earlier, the enemy knows what he’s doing.

  66. j2,

    I’ve had occasion to talk with many folks in law enforcement, teachers, and medical professionals…and they are freaking out too.

    Your region may be different than mine, but I wish the whole area would freak out over these issues.

  67. j2,

    I don’t have researched statistical proof at hand to prove that violence is trending worse in our culture; this is just my impression of how things are.

    The Weinstein & Cosby revelations along with our society’s response has a been a good thing. Maybe that will help reverse the trend. But these things happening are quite recent and I think are revealing how bad things have been for quite a while now.

    The manifestation of the gun related mass murders has been quite bad over the past couple years compared to our nation’s history.

    And then there is even level of hatred and vitriol and violence that there is in our political rhetoric these days. This has become quite bad over the past couple years and I think is on a particularly bad trend. I do think this contributes to things like we saw in Charlottesville and could lead to increasingly more like events.

  68. Joel,

    Thanks…but trust me, I don’t do this as well as I ought.

    I’m a lax disciplinarian and some of his colorful vocabulary and rebellious attitude wasn’t learned from rappers…
    I am very involved and always present…and I hope that makes a difference.

  69. KevinH,

    I think the whole issue can be stated as a rejection of the image of God in the other and a desensitization toward doing damage to those who bear it.

    Facebook is America’s favorite shooting game…

  70. I recall a time when there was almost always a mom at home keeping track (some didn’t ) of the children… then came the day in the 70’s when I realized how few moms had that luxury… Somewhere along the way consumerism and inflation had taken over (and killed off the door to door salesman. 😊 )
    Now I’m not sure that it is God’s design to lock up mom at home, and I do firmly believe that it ought to take the whole village to raise a child… trouble is, where to find a safe village to do that?
    Ironically, perhaps our mega churches could do that .. do they?

  71. “I’m a lax disciplinarian and some of his colorful vocabulary and rebellious attitude wasn’t learned from rappers…
    I am very involved and always present…and I hope that makes a difference.”

    I smile at this… like looking in a mirror. 🙂

  72. Em,

    Great insight @70…

    T has me and his mom, his grandma, good teachers, a good boss, good friends of mine who demonstrate real Christian manhood, my church, and others who are all a vital part of helping him navigate life.

    We need them all…

  73. JoelG,

    I probably shouldn’t tell those truths, but I hope we can see each other as we are and be free to do so safely.

    I’m better than I was, but I have a long way to go…and I’ll bet you are a very good parent.

  74. I try to be as involved and present as I possibly can despite my failings. It’s easy to get too busy. I think paying attention, asking questions and simply being there is the best we can do.

  75. ***Your region may be different than mine, but I wish the whole area would freak out over these issues.***

    I have concerns for young people, but of all the things they’re dealing with I think violent video games are pretty negligible. The quantity of screen time I would view as more concerning than whether the game specifically is violent. And people around me have been freaking out about kids since I was five years old. I simply don’t have the energy to sustain that sort of emotion anymore.

  76. “The guarantee of one’s prayer is not in saying a lot of words. The guarantee of one’s petition is very easy to know: how do I treat the poor? The degree to which you approach them, and the love with which you approach them, or the scorn with which you approach them – that is how you approach your God. What you do to them, you do to God. The way you look at them is the way you look at God.”

    ~ Oscar Romero, The Violence of Love

  77. Very good article Michael. Almost every boy seemingly plays those games. I’ve talked with several 11/12yo boys that play those Call of Duty games. These boys will sit for hours and hours and go around shooting and knifing people with realistic looking violence. Not only that, a lot of these games let you choose what “side” you want to be on. So you actually get to be on the “evil” side. I don’t know about that new WW2 game, but I’ll bet you get to choose which side you want to be on. That means that not only are kids going around killing for hours day in and day out, but many of them are even doing it on the side of evil. Between what these games are doing to our kids and porn, this generation is in incredible trouble. And I’ll disagree with MLD – it’s worse than previous generations. What these kids are dealing with now is different and I don’t think we’ve even BEGUN to see the effects. At those ages, the brain we know scientifically is still developing – I don’t think we even know yet as a society just how damaging what we are doing is – it’s literally changing brain patterns. As others have alluded to these are also symptoms of deeper societal issues, but they feed on each other. The really sad thing is that many of the kids do KNOW they feel hopeless and they WANT someone to give them direction and help, but there’s so much coming against them (including the peer pressure in these areas) that it’s a very hard battle. I literally have cried over this because I just see a wave of lost and hurting kids. And I see them grasping for something, but there’s very few to give it, and even if there is, there’s so much counter-force against them. The answer though is the same that it has always been: Jesus. This article reminded me of a song I’ve been mulling over again the last few days that I started writing not long after the Columbine and other school shootings in the late 90’s (when I myself was still a teen). It’s a song I rarely think of, but it’s words just hit me a few days ago more than they have in a long time. Thot I’d share the recording I made many years ago if OK with you – it’s called “Reaping What We’ve Sown” – link

  78. Chris – I didn’t say if it was worse or not. I pointed out that the concerns were the same – go back and read an old Dobson book from the 70s / 80s – broken homes, single parents, alienation, behavior that screams for help.

    I graduated high school in 1967 – I can’t count the number from my class who OD’d from drugs in the next 5 yrs. I guess the survivors became Jesus People.

  79. MLD – My apologies if I misrepresented what you were saying. But I would argue that the concerns are not the same at all. There have ALWAYS been trials and tribulations in growing up and every generation has faced that and there’s been different manifestations in different generations. And yes, yours definitely had its issues. But did your generation sit around for hours on end day-in-and-day-out killing people in the most heinous and way, one person after another virtually on video games? Did your generation as soon as a lusfful thought entered their 11yo mind instantly have access within less than a second to the most vile porn imaginable? Did your generation have lots of music that constantly in the most graphic language possible talked about doing lots of sexual things to people or killing them or referring to them as b’s and ho’s? Did your generation have a complete overload of media input all piping constant division and anger and debauchery of the highest order? No. If you wanted porn, you had to work for it. If you wanted to kill someone, you had to take steps to do it in real life or you went to war. It’s not the same MLD. It’s just not. I’m not your generation. I’m the gen that was in the first major wave of this stuff where I would say the landscape drastically started changing in the early 90’s – I was a preteen/teen in the first wave of those first really violent video games like Wolfenstein 3D and Doom (that Kevin H mentioned) and TV shows like Married With Children and Roseanne and the early Internet and I know how hard it’s been for me to walk straight with Jesus given a lot of the negative input that came into my life at those ages. I can’t even imagine for kids now. I stand by what I said: We haven’t even really begun to see the damage. It’s truly sad.

  80. I am sure I am agreeing with J2 when I say this. Everything escalates with each generation. I pointed out last week that my grandkids watch Friends and Two and a Half men – but for some reason don’t personify it. My 11 year old grandson dressed as Chandler Bing for Halloween (and I must say he nailed it pretty good.)

    Chris, it seems that you survived. I don’t know what you are talking about with music – have you ever listened to late Beatles music(1968) – Hey, all that Sinatra and Jack Jones sang about was getting in the girls’ pants. (what do you think Frank wanted when he sang “Fly me to the moon”? 🙂

    With all that you list above, the great majority, and I mean the great majority are doing just fine – getting As in school and planning on college. Yes, some, and the numbers may be larger than we want will fall through the cracks – we used to call them juvenile delinquents.

  81. MLD, I would agree that things escalate – that’s because your gen screwed up mine and mine is now screwing up the next and it’s progressive because it all builds on the previous. With music, I’m sorry but you must not really have actually bothered to listen to the music of today… I am fully aware that in your gen (and the gen before etc) there was music about getting in girl’s pants, but it was much more veiled or at least halfway tasteful. They may have talked about “flying to the moon” but they didn’t say “I’m gonna **** you up ur ***” – and watch the youtube vid of a girl with no clothes on gyrating around or mimicking sex acts while singing her song – it’s different friend… As to your 2 other points. The Bible is pretty clear that what we put in affects us, so I’m sorry but I have to disagree with both of those points. If your kids are watching shows with themes contrary to the Word of God, whether you think you see in any evidence of those themes playing out in negative ways in their lives or not, it’s affecting something on some level in a negative way. It has to. And I would take great exception to your idea that the “majority” are doing just fine simply because they are able to get some good grades. No, the majority are deeply sick and getting sicker. That whole escalation thing…. There’s a reason why gender issues are a major issue now but weren’t 15 years ago. There’s a reason why gay issues were a major issue 5 years ago but weren’t 30 years ago. (And no I’m of course not saying there weren’t gays 30 years ago but you know what I mean). There’s an underlying desensitization that’s taken place and slowly warped all of us – and it’s straight from the pit of hell. The really sad part to me to be blunt is just how many people there are that think as you do that everything’s just going as it always has and kids are just kids and what they take in doesn’t necessarily affect them…. It’s partly because of that attitude that allows the devil’s strategy to work so well IMO. Anyway, that’s all I’ve got to say on the matter. 🙂 I don’t pop in to say much here, but this topic has been on my heart a lot as of late because I see it in kids I’ve interacted with. Blessings!

  82. Chris – that is my point – my parents and grandparents thought the world was going to spin off it’s axis just because of the way we dressed, wore our hair, the music we listened too, the free sex, and the stuff we smoked.

    My grandkids can process so much more information, faster than I ever could. This technology makes them keep up. I remember the studies (I was a Sociology major) about how we use only 10% of our brain capacity (I think I am down to 5%) – so perhaps this technology has these kids up to 20%.

    The kids today will be the one’s to put a man on Mars.

  83. ***I am fully aware that in your gen (and the gen before etc) there was music about getting in girl’s pants, but it was much more veiled or at least halfway tasteful. They may have talked about “flying to the moon” but they didn’t say “I’m gonna **** you up ur ***” – and watch the youtube vid of a girl with no clothes on gyrating around or mimicking sex acts while singing her song – it’s different friend***

    Perhaps music has gotten worse, but in other respects things have gotten better. Yeah, so some styles of music exist today that degrade women and music back in the early to mid 20th century was much more veiled about sex. But, in some very substantial ways, current society is much better toward women then the early to mid 20th century. We can own our own property and have our own bank account and work a job, although there’s still a long ways to go, we have a lot more resources for domestic violence victims and take it more seriously than previous generations, we have women at basically every level of government, a woman won the popular vote in the Presidential race. While it would be great if women weren’t demeaned and turned into nothing more than sex objects in popular music, the way things are now seems way preferable than how women were treated back in Frank Sinatra’s heyday. Why just focus on the ways things have gotten worse? In a lot of respects things have really improved from generation to generation.

  84. I admire your optimism MLD. When I look around, I see little reason to have any, EXCEPT for Jesus. The “But Jesus…” factor. To some degree this has indeed always been true (I’ll agree with you to a degree there) – we live in a sick world and have ever since the Fall, but I would still argue it’s significantly different now in a variety of ways than it was even 40 years ago. It’s progressed further down a very dark path orchestrated by the devil himself. Some people though it seems have put on bright glasses to hide them from the true reality… I don’t share your optimism in our kids today (nor do I really care if they send a man to mars – a lot of what undergirds our missions these days is part of a godless and evolutionary theology but that’s another topic), however, as a believer, I DO have to always have at least some form of optimism because of the Jesus factor. And as Michael often talks about, there’s always a remnant. Anyway, I said my peace. 🙂 I may not post often, but I read plenty and I’ve read enough of you to know that you will go back and forth with a poster til you beat them into submission [I’m teasing you! 😉 sort of HAHAHA] So to save myself, I’ll just stop now. 🙂 Love & blessings!

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