Tag Archives: teenagers

Movie Review: “King’s Faith”

The Christian movie King’s Faith (2013), available on Netflix, is a beautiful and moving story of faith and redemption. Best of all, it manages to convey the reality of faith without being corny or trite, examining complex human issues like death, crime, divorce and abortion with tenderness, displaying the full reality of the pain and trauma of loss while demonstrating the healing that comes with trust in each other and in God.

[Caution: some spoilers ahead]

King’s Faith centers on 18-year-old Brendan King (Crawford Wilson), who has been on the wrong side of the law multiple times and is placed in his eighteenth foster home after being detained for three years. His foster father Mike Stubbs (James McDaniel) is a math teacher at his new high school, and mentors the after-school Bible study group as well as the faith-based community service youth group, The Seekers.

Brendan was given a Bible while in juvenile detention, and came to accept the saving truth of Christianity. With his newfound faith in God, Brendan applies himself to his studies, determined to leave his old life behind.

However, trouble comes calling when Brendan saves a fellow schoolmate, Natalie Jenkins (Kayla Compton), from a car crash and appears on the news. His old gang tracks him down and demands that he hand over a stash of drugs and cash that he and his now-dead best friend had hidden before the federal drug raid that ended his friend’s life and landed Brendan in detention.

The Stubbs are recovering from the death of their only son, a police officer who was killed during a routine traffic stop. Vanessa Stubbs (Lynn Whitfield) is unable to move on, and spends most days cultivating flowers for her son’s memorial on the side of the highway.

Mike, meanwhile, has been able to surrender his pain to God and welcomes Brendan as a foster child, knowing that God may bring good out of this gift of a stable, loving home for a troubled youth. He is a trusting man who looks for the good in others, even those rejected by the rest of society.

As we follow Brendan through his new life and watch him and other characters grapple with the past, we witness the power of faith to transform even the most terrible circumstances, binding old wounds and uniting the estranged in love and truth.

Someone, Please, Like Me…

depressed“Stockholm syndrome, individuals’ desperate attempts to become like their captors.  On a lesser scale it was why good German citizens followed Hitler, Ryan said.  Or why any person might compromise his or her convictions without realizing he or she was doing so to be accepted.  To be wanted.

The world was suffering from Stockholm syndrome.” (BoneMan’s Daughters, Ted Dekker)

The need to be loved has been at the core of the human heart since the beginning of time.  In Genesis God Himself recognizes man’s need for attention from someone like himself, saying “It is not good for the man to be alone…” (Genesis 2:18).  Man has yearned to be acknowledged and accepted by someone like him from his first days on Earth, and God introduced the family to fulfill this need.  God gave man a family on Earth to mirror the Trinitarian family in Heaven for the purpose of giving him a way to be united to those like him, providing man with the love, support, and encouragement he longs for.  And though people are called to a variety of different families, the one which is the most essential to society and to a person’s formation is the bond between father, mother, and child.  When the family unit is strong, those who grow up within it benefit from its virtue and are able to develop without constantly having to search for the love that their family is not providing them.  But when the family decays, gives into the pressures of society, or is not centered on Christ and His love, the children start to look for fulfillment in other, lesser, places.

Modern-day businesses have become experts at appealing to this desire.  They produce clothes with brand names clearly displayed, giving those who wear them a false sense of belonging to something.  They provide ways for one to amass “friends” and “followers” so that each person can feel like they are loved by many.  They design websites that allow one to put all his achievements, talents, actions, and thoughts on public display, to invite the attention that he craves so desperately.  Clubs at school, gangs on the street, sports teams, and group organizations all cater to one’s need to be a part of something, to be assured that there are others like them who accept them, like them, and care for them in some way.

As the divorce rates go up and magazines advertise how to have a happy divorce instead of a blissful marriage, increasing amounts of teenagers and young adults flock to these artificial means of acceptance.  It is hard to spot a high school or college student on the sidewalk who is not doing something digital; whether texting, posting, tweeting, or pinning, they are constantly on their devices.  They must look like they have something to do, people who want to hear from them, and walking down the street alone without visibly proving they have people to communicate with would be the ultimate downfall, because appearing lonely for a second would cause others to think they were outcasts, were not accepted, did not belong.  The youth of today are desperate to be loved, and when their families leave them empty, they look for completeness elsewhere.  This is why teenagers are becoming pregnant earlier and earlier, this is why girls post videos on YouTube asking guys to rate their bodies, this is why everyone is desperate to do something worthy of a Facebook status, this is why teens will spend hours on end texting about absolutely nothing, and this is why modern young adults are statistically more depressed.  They are all crying out for love and attention, and the digital world’s fake approval only leaves them empty.  No matter how skinny they get, how many brand-name clothes they wear, how many parties they attend, or Facebook friends they have, they cannot change themselves enough to be liked by everyone, and soon they become so enslaved to trying to please the culture that they forget who they really are.

The family is a necessary part of society, and when it fails, growth stops.  This nation needs to refocus on the family, start building from the beginning again, and make the foundations strong so that the love each child yearns for can once again be found in security, truth, and beauty, and not in a societal trend.  It is time for adults, for parents, to step up and be the rocks they are supposed to be, and for the young adults of today to rediscover that their hearts will never truly be content until they find their identities in Christ, the One who is always there for them, from whom all truth flows.  Then, and only then, will the culture be purified of suffocating insecurity and set free to reach its full potential and change the world for the better, through love, once more.

The world is suffering from Stockholm syndrome…”

 

Originally published in The Rambler (Vol. 11 No. 5), a publication of Christendom College, under the title “Someone please love me”.

Teen Pregnancy Isn’t the Problem

One recent evening, I shook a bottle of hot sauce over my burger and watched the news from the kitchen table.

Popular that night was the story of a set of New York City schools that are part of a pilot program in which female students who are 14 and up can access Plan B, the emergency contraceptive also called “the morning-after pill.”

The program was part of a media hullabaloo, partly because of what the pill is used for, partly because of how young the girls are who can participate in the program and partly because – according to some sources – if a child’s parents consent to her participation in the program, she can access the pill later and nobody has to tell her parents she did.

A man on the TV turned hopeful eyes toward the crowd in front of him and from behind a podium, he spoke about the Plan B program. It provides a solution, he said, to a problem that has lifelong consequences: teen pregnancy.

Really?

I shook my head while I ate my burger and thought about what he said.

Indeed, a baby inside anyone – let alone a teenager – has a big impact on all involved for the rest of their lives. But according to the CDC, only half of teen moms receive high school diplomas. Teen moms also are more likely low achievers, in poor health, in jail and unemployed than their same-age peers who didn’t give birth as adolescents. And their children statistically don’t fare well, either.

Which is why what I am about to write probably won’t sit well with people like the guy behind the podium:

Teen pregnancy isn’t the problem.

It’s a consequence. The problem is what the world around teens says to them about sex.

The world says sex is primarily for pleasure. That sex doesn’t have to be for unity or procreation. That everybody’s doing it. That there is something wrong with you if you aren’t.

The world says sex is just a bodily function, like eating or breathing. That the quest for sexual compatibility ought to be paramount in the search for a spouse. That it isn’t a good idea to marry somebody who hasn’t proven he or she can satisfy you sexually.

The world tells us to act on all our urges as soon as possible. To get what we want, when we want it, always. To control our fertility instead of ourselves if we aren’t prepared to become parents.

The morning-after pill can’t solve this. The morning-after pill is part of this. It says the same stuff about sex that the world says. And it says it loudly.

Which is why it’s time to get louder than the world.

It’s time to use our lives to tell the world sex is primarily for procreation and unity. That we aren’t supposed to marry people because it feels good to have sex with them, but to create a pleasurable sexual relationship with the person to whom we are married. That people of all ages can (and do) choose chastity, and there’s nothing wrong with them if they do.

We have to tell the world (and our kids) that like author Edward Sri says, God designed the sexual urge “to orient us toward another person,” not toward what we can get out of him or her. That like Sister Helena Burns says, premarital sex “is training for the opposite of marriage.”

We have to tell the world that marriage is supposed to result in the destruction of self absorption. That God wouldn’t expect us to master our appetites if mastering our appetites wasn’t a good idea. That patience is better marriage prep than sex is. That pregnancy frankly isn’t ever the problem.

If we don’t say it, nobody will. And if nobody says it, the culture that surrounds us will keep trying to solve this problem with the stuff that’s part of it (like the morning-after pill).

So dude, do you have a girlfriend yet?

Allow me to take you way, way back in time….all the way to 2007! (Hey, five years is a lot when you’re still in high school.)

I had moved from Connecticut to Texas the year before, and was finally getting around to reconnecting with all my friends from back East. I didn’t have Facebook, so I was forced to use these strange devices called telephones. One day, I had a very interesting conversation with one of my best friends I’d known from Connecticut. I was talking to him about all the stuff that had happened since I left, and eventually, even though we were both only 13, he got on the subject of girls.

He asked me, “So dude, do you have a girlfriend yet?”

I was stunned. As I’m sure you can understand, my innocent little Catholic boy side was deeply offended.

“Are you kidding? I’m only 13! How could I be in a relationship already?”

At the time of that conversation, he was on his 12th girlfriend.

Yeah.

This is an isolated incident (I hope), but it says a lot about our society’s attitudes towards a very tricky social issue. It’s nothing new, but the more people my age that I meet, the more and more I start to understand a very sad truth: Among teenagers, dating is a game. At some point in time, a societal norm came into existence, a norm which has infested my fellow young people with a dangerous lie, a lie that states that we kids somehow should be allowed to engage in that which is none of our concern.

As a Catholic, I understand marriage is a sacrament and should be taken seriously. Dating and relationships are a means of searching for a spouse, and I therefore take them very seriously as well. What I am dying to know is why so many of my friends do not. I’m a guy, and yes, we enjoy spending time with girls, but that doesn’t mean we all need to engage in these so-called “relationships.” As a society we have let the reality of dating and its fruitful implications die, and in doing so we have completely disregarded the spiritual danger for teens brought about by frivolous dating.

Now I understand, not all these relationships are absolutely terrible. I’ve met people who are happily married that met their future husbands and wives in high school, which is great for them! However, the vast majority of people my age I know are constantly in and out of these relationships. They let them dominate their lives, distract them from their studies, and sometimes they even get dragged into depression. And for what?

I’ve asked my friends why they do it, I’ve asked them why they think it’s worth it. A couple years ago a friend of mine, who was 15 at the time, said he was in a relationship because he was sure he wanted to marry the girl he was with, yet six months later they broke up and he was happy as could be. Another friend I asked, a girl the same age, said she was only in relationships because they were a good excuse to make out with boys.

Why have we let this happen? How is it so many millions of people have completely misunderstood the concept of dating? I mean, it’s very simple. If you don’t plan on getting married anytime soon (especially if you’re 13 years old), then what are you doing? I mean, it IS possible to have a good time with members of the opposite gender without them being your “bf” or “gf”. Trust me, I know. Somehow, we need to find a way to help my fellow high schoolers understand that there is more to life than dating. We have to help them understand that their value and worth as a person is not going to be measured by how many people they’ve been with. God doesn’t care if you have a girlfriend or not, and if my generation learns to understand that, then maybe dating and marriage will be what they are truly supposed to be.

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]http://www.ignitumtoday.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/07/blog-picture.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jack Kuplack is a Catholic home schooler and one of ten kids. He’s been a member of the Civil Air Patrol (The Civilian Auxilliary of the United States Air Force) for over five years, and is currently the Cadet Commander of the Randolph Composite Squadron near San Antonio. He’s been preparing to join the military for years, and intends to after high school. In his free time he either blogs over at Who Needs Green, plays guitar, studies physics, or kindly plots ways to subdue his hyper siblings.[/author_info] [/author]