Modnik Recap-Cultural Diagnostic questions

This is the 2nd part of my update for our recent youth retreat on Kingdom and Culture. The first can be found here. Since these principles seemed too good to not share with parents, or much less anyone of any age, I felt compelled to put them on the blog.

In our Saturday morning session, David Grant gave us some helpful diagnostic questions to ask while watching TV, movies, or listening to music. I appreciated the fact that he did not say, “You should watch this show and shouldn’t watch that show.” He exclaimed, “What you watch is between you and your parents.” David instead challenged the youth how to watch shows. Provided they are faithful to ask these questions, as are the parents, it should open the door to stop watching certain shows which may be negatively transformational. 

Here are his five questions, and my thoughts (which may be the same as his) are in italics. He reminded the youth that they are being taught something. Movies and TV shows and music have SOMETHING to say. Figure it out or you’ll end up being taught without realizing it.

1.)  Did you enjoy it? Why did you like it or not? This is a great question for parents to ask to find out why people connect to certain shows or movies. There is a reason why so many young girls like Twilight. Consider the why if you want to begin thinking critically.

2.) What did it say about Authority? How were authority figures depicted? Parents, police, government, bosses, etc…..

3.) What did it say about Morality? What kind of morality was being promoted? Immorality? Legalism? Amorality?

4.)  What did it say about God? God may or may not by name be mentioned. But you can discern the worldview, and how God does or doesn’t fit into the characters dialog or directors arrangement.

5.)  Where can you see the “finger prints” of God? If you look hard, you can see aspects of God’s “finger prints” in movies and TV shows. Because we are all made in the image of God, we should be able to see something commendable in all movies. Sometimes it can be very clear as in the gospel illustration at the end of Gran Torino or the beautiful love a parent places on her child immediately upon birth in The Waitress.

My take on parent possibilities:

Parents have the responsibility to determine what each child can correctly and biblically filter. That filter needs developing in all of us. Middle Schoolers don’t need to watch Jersey Shore. Of course, no one probably does, but that is of course, my own opinion. 

Nevertheless since parents are ultimately responsible for training their children, watching movies and TV shows with them NOW-even ones that might not be faith based-might be the best way to train them to watch movies and TV shows when they leave your house THEN. If your kids are watching movies, watch them WITH them. At the very least, you need to be asking questions of the movies and TV shows. They won’t always have you telling them “you can or can’t watch this or that,” but if you’ve helped them develop some sort of diagnostic filter, they can turn movies, TV, and music into devotional and teaching moments for themselves and their friends. And many times, because they have such working filters, they may decide beforehand, “This movie or show isn’t worth my time.”

In some ways, the movies both reflect and shape culture. But as Christians, we can through these same movies begin to be shapers of culture, instead of simply reflectors and consumers. One person at a time.

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