Read. Watch. Listen.

As part of their year with Evangelical Alliance NI, our Research Assistants will be learning more about the age we live in, our place in it, and the role EA can play. Over the course of this year we're going to be hearing from them about what they are learning, reading, watching and listening to.

Our first piece comes from Lauren Agnew.

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Read: ‘Culture Making’ Andy Crouch

What is culture? Why is it important? How can we shape and influence it for God’s glory?

‘Culture Making’ is framing our understanding of culture and how we engage with it. Crouch is suggesting we need to start thinking of culture as specific cultural goods; culture is what human beings make of the world, and these things we make eventually effect the world we live in. On this basis, cultural change ‘will only happen when something new displaces to some extent, existing culture in a very tangible way.’ As we work through this book we’re hoping to better understand how we can create a culture which is both open to, and receptive of the Gospel. It’s not enough for Christians to condemn, critique, copy or consume culture.

If we want to change culture, we need to be creating culture.

Watch: ‘The Millennial Question’ Simon Sinek

This video takes an interesting look at the importance millennials place on ‘purpose’ and ‘making an impact.’ Sinek uses the example of a mountain; ‘it’s as if millennials are standing at the foot of a mountain with this abstract notion of ‘making an impact in the world,’ which is the summit. What they don’t see is the mountain.’ Sinek points out this generation, having grown up in a society of instant gratification, are too quick to quit when they don’t see instantaneous results, instantaneous change- instantaneous impact. Sinek assures us that it’s irrelevant whether you go up this mountain quickly or slowly, but if we want to reach the summit we need to develop patience, because real lasting change can take time. It can be uncomfortable. The journey may be long and arduous- but it is a path worth taking.

This video unapologetically calls out millennials as being obsessed and preoccupied with social media. As a result of growing up in a Facebook/Instagram world, we’ve become very good at putting filters on our lives. We make the mundane seem exciting, the normal seem extraordinary and we count the likes we get from our filtered lifestyles on social media.

Sinek explains that with each text message we receive, and each like we get on Instagram, our body releases a chemical called dopamine which makes us ‘feel good.’ This ‘feel good’ feeling is highly addictive, and we’re overdosing on it at the expense of deep meaningful relationships with the people around us. If we’re constantly engaged online, we’re also forfeiting opportunities for ideas to happen in the real world. We aren’t letting our minds wander to consider possibilities when we are continually scrolling through our newsfeed. This was definitely a challenging video, and it’s hard to watch it without feeling convicted.

What are we missing out on?

Listen: ‘Vanishing Adulthood and the American Moment’ Senator Ben Sasse

In this podcast Sasse takes a look at the ‘transitional’ stage between adolescence and adulthood. He suggests that we’ve experienced a shift in how we ‘create’ young people- there’s a lack of ‘end point’ to adolescence. Young adults are also taking less initiative as a result of ‘digital distraction.’ This podcast brings the impact of social media on millennials under the spotlight once again. Sasse suggests there’s a tendency to think that going to the top of a mountain on Instagram (because your friend went there and you looked at a picture) is a substitute for actually going to the top of a mountain. This makes us question how much we are living vicariously through Instagram and social media as a whole. Are we seeing the world around us with our own eyes- or through a filtered lens?

Sasse also places value on formative experiences over ‘things.’ He advises parents to prioritise buying their children ‘experiences’ over ‘things,’ because experiences can shape individuals more than material possessions. Senator Sasse points out that people who have travelled, for example, have the ability to see life differently. Travel can provide alternative perspectives, inform our understanding of the world around us and shape us as individuals. A fish however, ‘can’t tell you what water’s like because he’s never been out of water.’

We need to get out of the water.