Barbie Too Slutty for Iran

Posted on: 04/30/08 8:47 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… I don’t know if I totally disagree with this.

The Iranian vice president is speaking out against Barbie, computer games, and movies.

In this Times Online article it’s evident that Barbie and other western toys are not welcome:

Barbie dolls and other western toys will lead to “destructive and cultural consequences” for Iran, the country’s leading prosecutor wrote in a letter to the Iranian vice-president, published in the Mardom Salari newspaper. “The appearance of personalities such as Barbie, Batman, Spiderman and Harry Potter and … computer games and movies are all a danger ”  A toy seller Masoumeh Rahimi adds that Barbie in particular  is “foreign to Iran’s culture” ,  wanton, and ” more harmful than an American missile”.  

Hmmmm. I’m not sure what he’s afraid of in Batman and Spiderman. Maybe those spandex suits are just too revealing. 🙂 But I think there’s a kernal of truth in this guy’s worries when you take a look at some of the toys and games our culture is pimping out to our kids. It would be hard for us to deny some of the “destructive and cultural consequences” we are seeing from the media.

But I think this guy is taking the extreme position. It’s all evil!

The other extreme is embraced by much of our culture. We should let our kids be free to choose what is right for them. 

I have to admit… I don’t like either extreme. I guess that’s where good parenting is going to have to just kick in.


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Seeing Much “More” of Miley

Posted on: 04/28/08 9:01 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Miley is regretting her decision big time.

Haven’t we all regretted decisions at one time or another? That’s why this is a great opportunity to discuss decision making with our kids. (Note: I’ve included discussion questions with a scripture passage below)

Here’s the skinny: Last week I was surprised by an email from a blog subscriber telling me that Miley had just taken some shots of herself in her underwear and one shot of herself pulling her shirt down exposing her green bra. I didn’t post anything because there was some debate as to whether it was truly Miley or not. No statement was issued.

Well… this morning a new set of photos have emerged… and it’s no secret. Associated Press spells it out:

Miley Cyrus is taking issue with a photo of herself that’s going around, and it’s not another amateur, truth-or-dare Internet snapshot — it’s the handiwork of Annie Leibovitz.

“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

The photos, appearing in the upcoming issue of Vanity Fair, were taken by Leibovitz, a renowned celebrity photographer whose edgy, silver-toned portraits have included subjects such as Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson and a naked, pregnant Demi Moore.

The picture doesn’t show any nudity, but it shows the shirtless Miley covering her front with a blanket and showing her bare back to the camera. Even though this picture isn’t pornographic, it disturbed Disney and Miley enough that they both issued statements. And most people agree that Miley had been duped so Vanity Fair can just sell magazines.

Obviously this makes me sad. Miley is one of the few superstars that I’ve felt pretty good about my kids watching and listening to. She seems to have a faith (I’ve blogged on that before), although I’ve never heard her talk too specifically about it (Remember people, just because she said “I want to thank my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” at the recent awards, that doesn’t mean anything. Don’t ask me to list the people who have said those exact words receiving awards).  But, as I’ve mentioned in a previous blog about Miley, her parents are once again proving to demonstrate questionable judgment.

So what can we as youth workers and parents do about this? I think that this issue like many issues is a jumpstarter to dialogues with our kids about decision making. I’d use this statement from Cyrus in the Associated Press article:

“I think it’s really artsy,” she told the magazine at the time. “It wasn’t in a skanky way. Annie took, like, a beautiful shot, and I thought that was really cool. That’s what she wanted me to do, and you can’t say no to Annie.”

CNN expands on this:

And you can’t say no to Annie. She’s so cute. She gets this puppy dog look and you’re like, ‘O.K.'”

then this…

“I took part in a photo shoot that was supposed to be ‘artistic’ and now, seeing the photographs and reading the story, I feel so embarrassed,” Cyrus said Sunday in a statement through her publicist. “I never intended for any of this to happen and I apologize to my fans who I care so deeply about.”

Then I’d ask our kids:

1. Why do you think Miley changed her mind after she saw the pictures?

2. Have you ever made a decision and regretted it later?

3. When we make decisions based on “what feels right at the moment,” are those decisions always right?

4. What guideline should we use for making decisions?

5. The world sometimes puts on a lot of pressure to do wrong. Miley said that it was hard to say no to Annie… with her puppy dog look she was very convincing. Is there someone it’s hard for you to say no to?

6. How can we equip ourselves to make good decisions even when “the pressure is on” to make bad ones?

What the Bible Says:
The world can be pretty convincing in their lies, so much so that their lies sound like the truth at the moment. The Bible talks about escaping this kind of thinking and letting Christ influence us instead of the world. Check it out:

 “Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. [15] Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church.” (Ephes. 4:14-15, NLT) 

7. According to the beginning of the verses, what will be no longer be like?  What does that mean?

8. According to the end of the verse, what should we be like?  How can we do that?

9. What is one way that you could try to be more like Christ this week?

INSERT from 12/2/08: Miley now comments about “not regretting” the pictures in this article

David’s Grand Theft Auto 4 Article

Posted on: 04/26/08 10:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… you guys are going to find this week’s Youth Culture Window article (the weekly article featured in the magnifying glass on the front page of our web site ) fascinating. The very controversial Grand Theft Auto 4 video game has successfully resisted arrest and will be released worldwide this Tuesday, April 29th.

Youth Culture Window author David R. Smith writes:

“Remember kids – it’s only illegal if you get caught!” 

You can thank the Grand Theft Auto 4 website for that little piece of advice to our children. And this Tuesday, April 29th, when this new game is released worldwide, kids will be able to vicariously drive drunk, get lap dances, and maliciously attack unsuspecting crowds with various weapons. GTA4 definitely earns its “M for Mature” rating. 

David goes on…

Players who want to extract all the “entertainment” from the game will run across plenty of shady characters and can witness and participate in execution-style murders, torture, high speed car chases, shootouts with cops, and strip clubs offering everything from drinks to pole dancing. GTA4 encompasses all the lawlessness that 150 of the world’s best video game programmers could jam into one title.

A very informative article. Wow.

Hitchcock Classic Stills Remade

Posted on: 04/24/08 3:31 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This is just pure fun. As a fiilm buff I was tickled when I saw these creative stills from Vanity Fair, all remakes of classic Hitchcock film moments.

Check out people like Charlize Theron as Grace Kelly’s Margot Mary Wendice about to be strangled in Dial M for Murder. ( I placed their remake and original side by side for you)

Or one of my favorites… do you recognize these two? (hard to replace Grace Kelly and James Stewart… but these two aren’t bad)

That’s Scarlett Johansson and Javier Bardem. 

Other actors posing for these classic stills include Renee Zellweger, Gweneth Paltrow, Keira Knightley, Eva Marie Saint (how’s that for nostalgic), Ben Foster (one of my favorite up and coming actors) and a bunch of other faces you’ll recognize!

Fun stuff! Click here to scroll through them all.

Dear God

Posted on: 04/23/08 4:07 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m always intrigued by people’s conceptions of God. I have found that their expressions of these perceptions don’t necessarily reflect what someone truly believes, more what is convenient or easier to swallow. But they do give us a glimpse into their attitudes and feelings about God.

I guess that’s why this Dear God web site didn’t surprise me.

The Times Online describes the site as “new and achingly cool” allowing you to “petition the deity of your choosing with worries and requests and to read other people’s. Replies not guaranteed.” The site allows people to “share their inner-most hopes and fears with their version of God.”

How P.C.

Clicking there, you’ll find the prayers divided by topic. I was directed to a whole section full of prayers expressing doubt, even anger. Many of these reveal a porthole into the world of people that aren’t that excited about God. Take this email from Benjamin in Sydney Australia for example:

Dear GOD!Do you really expect me not to have sex with my girlfriend? Do you really expect me to not love my father for his sexual orientation? Do you real expect me not to have fun, not to drink and not to eat meat? Do you really expect me to surrender my whole life for you? Seriously god, you are not the center of the universe. Please stop taking over peoples lives. YOUR CREATED THEM – YOU DO NOT OWN THEM!!! Benjamin, Sydney/Australia


MTV’s Real World… Not So Real

Posted on: 04/22/08 2:12 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I love this article. FInally verbalizing what I’ve thought for years now (wondering why kids even watch this show).

The article questions why MTV even renewed its “once hit show” The Real World for its 21st season. Unlike the author of the article, I was never a fan of the show. But I think he nailed it when he said this:

Those of us who watched the show in its early years — before reality television fueled all of television, popular culture and the media — recall a series that cast people with actual lives… Now, the cast members apparently have nothing to do besides be on “The Real World” — at least, until they can permanently wallow in the MTV cesspool via its “Real World/Road Rules Challenge” shows. They sit around the house except when they leave to party or go to their producer-arranged group job, and thus have plenty of time to drink, scream at each other and make out.

That pretty much wraps it up!

(Thanks to Todd for the article)

The Day of… WHAT?

Posted on: 04/21/08 9:29 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Oh boy… here we go again. It’s happening next week.

Why is it that Christians always feel that they need to “stand up for their rights” and speak out against organizations, or governments that are caught up in sin?

Where is this in the Bible?

It’s probably no secret to some of you that this Friday is the pro-homosexual tolerance Day of Silence. This day brings attention to the anti-LGBT name-calling, bullying and harassment in schools. I’m not going to address the issue of homo-sexuality in this blog. I’ve addressed it before in blogs and articles. In this blog I’m simply addressing our RESPONSE to the world when we don’t like what we see. (and I’m going to highlight an example of how NOT to respond)

Why do Christians think that picket signs or protesting is the answer?

Let me ask you one question. Name one person you know that accepted Christ because someone “protested” them into the Kingdom.

So why do Christians feel the need to do this?

Oh… I know why. It’s because when Jesus looked at the corrupt government of his day (Are you aware of what was going on in Herod’s house at the time?) he must have responded by gathering a mob and picketing the immoral lifestyle… wait… just a second… you mean… he didn’t? Well maybe he started a website, organizing people to protest in another way? No?


Well, Christians have created their own day in response to the Day of Silence called The Day of Truth. On Monday, April 28, 2008, some Christians have decided to establish this day to “counter the promotion of the homosexual agenda and express an opposing viewpoint from a Christian perspective… The Day of Truth provides an opportunity to publicly exercise our free speech rights.”

When I saw this I immediately thought of a few conversations I’ve had with Dan Kimball on the subject. Dan is a Christian speaker and author who believes engaging in homosexual acts is a sin, but shows incredible compassion and love to the homosexual community (He touches on this in our podcast with him, Podcast Episode #12 and in his powerful book, They Like Jesus, But Not the Church). I asked Dan his opinion about this Christian response- The Day of Truth. Dan gave me some quick thoughts:

i think those types of things end up doing more harm than good. i would encourage parents to be talking with their teenagers and youth leaders addressing it wisely in their ministries, but doing a public event at a high school i am not sure is beneficial to the direction of hope.  i would encourage the Christian teenagers to simply be friends with gay students and pro-gay students, and in the context of friendships the message of jesus will come through. I don’t know if formalizing a date to do it only reinforces things and we lose our voice. 

I can’t agree more.

Earlier this year many of us saw statistics of just how bad we look to the rest of the world. Only 16% of unchurched people had positive things to say about Christians. The majority of them used words like “hypocrite” and “judgemental” to describe us.

It all comes down to this. The Day of Truth web site is not without good intentions. They seem to be seeking conversation with homosexuals. Their cards bear this as part of their message:

It’s time for an honest conversation about homosexuality.
There’s freedom to change if you want to.
Let’s talk.

I think talking is good. But here’s what I’ll leave you with: If our goal is conversations, do you really think a formal day of “speaking out” will create conversations with homo-sexuals? Or will it build walls?

Wii Stripping Game

Posted on: 04/18/08 6:55 PM | by Jonathan McKee

In one of our recent podcast’s I talked about the new video game Wii Fit. We jested… “What’s next?”

I guess we should have kept our mouths shut!

ABC News tells us that Wii is working on a home stripping game. Yeah, that’s right. Check it out:

Peekaboo, a company that specializes in temporary at-home stripper polls, including one endorsed by Carmen Electra, announced this week that it’s developing a strip aerobics game for the Wii.

“Peekaboo is pleased to confirm that it is in talks to develop a game for the Nintendo Wii that meets mainstream demand for the fun and fitness benefits of pole dancing,” the company said in an e-mailed statement. “Peekaboo and its partners are focused on using Wii-friendly hardware to make aerobic pole dancing instantly accessible just as ‘Guitar Hero’ did for rock’n’roll.”

I can see people’s video game collection now. “Hmmmm. Let’s see. What do you want to play? Mario? Sonic? Zelda? …Pole Dancing?”

Waiting for Sex… is a Now a LONG WAIT!

Posted on: 04/17/08 8:35 AM | by Jonathan McKee

All week we’ve been talking about abstinence. “Just wait until marriage.”

That was a message easier said to my great grandpa and grandma. They were married before age 20. Rewind a couple years before that. Remember how old Laura Ingalls was on Little House on the Prairie? (Don’t tell me you don’t remember that TV show… or I’m feeling really old!) Yeah, Laura earned her teaching certificate at age 15, starting seeing the man she would eventually marry, then married him at age 18.

That’s quite a different portrait for the typical girl trying to earn her master’s degree today who statistically won’t marry until about age 30.  (poor Almanzo would have had to take 12 years of cold showers waiting for Laura today!)

When we ask our kids to “wait” … how long are we really asking them to wait?

Marriage consultant and author Stephanie Coontz talks about this in her article about the decline of Married-Couple Households:

The biggest reason married-couple households are now outnumbered by unmarried ones is the rising age at which people first marry. In 1960, the median age of marriage (with half of all individuals marrying before this age and half after) was 23 for men and 20 for women. Half of all women married before they left their teens! Today the median age of marriage is 27 for men and almost 26 for women. Among women who pursue graduate degrees, it is about 30.

I talked about this in an article almost six years ago in response to a Washington Post article where the author raised some really good questions about age (and drew some conclusions that I didn’t agree with). He pointed out the noticeable difficulty of abstinence with the average age of marriage rising. Author Philip D. Harvey argues:

The average age of marriage in the United States today is 27 for men and 26 for women.  The abstinence-only program therefore asks our young people to renounce sexual activity throughout much of the early part of adult life …

… I wonder if those who seriously advocate abstinence until marriage would prefer to see the marriage age come down…

…But in modern industrialized societies, where women have educational opportunities and more than half attend college, marriage in the teenage years will likely become increasingly rare.  If we agree, as I think most Americans do, that equal educational and occupational opportunities for women are a good thing, that our society is enhanced and enriched by these developments, then I think we must accept the fact that marriage in the middle or late twenties is the modern societal norm.  If that is so, the expectation of sexual abstinence until marriage is utterly unrealistic.

Philip poses a great question about the growing difficulty of what we’re asking kids to do.

This age of marriage changes regionally, even more so out of the U.S. In Denmark the average age of someone’s first marriage is 32.5 for men and 30.1 for women. But in Bangladesh it’s 21 for men and 16 for women. Maybe that’s what our kids need to do. Just move to Bangladesh!

In America the ages change as do the laws of when you can even marry. Most states allow males to marry at age 18 and females at 16 with parental consent. Exceptions include Hawaii, Missouri and Georgia where females only have to be 15 with parental consent (and Georgia allows 16 year old females to get married without parental consent if they are pregnant). There we go. If you can’t afford to go to Bangladesh, just move to Atlanta!

Regardless, the age is changing. documents the exact change on this page:

Year — Men— Women
2003 — 27.1 — 25.3
2002 — 26.9 — 25.3
2001 — 26.9 — 25.1
2000 — 26.8 — 25.1
1999 — 26.9 — 25.1
1998 — 26.7 — 25.0
1997 — 26.8 — 25.0
1996 — 27.1 — 24.8
1995 — 26.9 — 24.5
1994 — 26.7 — 24.5
1993 — 26.5 — 24.5
1992 — 26.5 — 24.4
1991 — 26.3 — 24.1
1990 — 26.1 — 23.9

1989 — 26.2 — 23.8
1988 — 25.9 — 23.6
1987 — 25.8 — 23.6
1986 — 25.7 — 23.1
1985 — 25.5 — 23.3
1984 — 25.4 — 23.0
1983 — 25.4 — 22.8
1982 — 25.2 — 22.5
1981 — 24.8 — 22.3
1980 — 24.7 — 22.0

1979 — 24.4 — 22.1
1978 — 24.2 — 21.8
1977 — 24.0 — 21.6
1976 — 23.8 — 21.3
1975 — 23.5 — 21.1
1974 — 23.1 — 21.1
1973 — 23.2 — 21.0
1972 — 23.3 — 20.9
1971 — 23.1 — 20.9
1970 — 23.2 — 20.8

1969 — 23.2 — 20.8
1968 — 23.1 — 20.8
1967 — 23.1 — 20.6
1966 — 22.8 — 20.5
1965 — 22.8 — 20.6
1964 — 23.1 — 20.5
1963 — 22.8 — 20.5
1962 — 22.7 — 20.3
1961 — 22.8 — 20.3
1960 — 22.8 — 20.3

1959 — 22.5 — 20.2
1958 — 22.6 — 20.2
1957 — 22.6 — 20.3
1956 — 22.5 — 20.1
1955 — 22.6 — 20.2
1954 — 23.0 — 20.3
1953 — 22.8 — 20.2
1952 — 23.0 — 20.2
1951 — 22.9 — 20.4
1950 — 22.8 — 20.3

1949 — 22.7 — 20.3
1948 — 23.3 — 20.4
1947 — 23.7 — 20.5
1940 — 24.3 — 21.5

1930 — 24.3 — 21.3

1920 — 24.6 — 21.2

1910 — 25.1 — 21.6

1900 — 25.9 — 21.9

1890 — 26.1 — 22.0

So what is my 2 cents on all of this?

Well, I don’t live in Georgia, but do the math. I was 37-years-old this year when I celebrated my 17th year wedding anniversary with my wife. (17 years and we still like each other.)


To Condemn or to Condom?

Posted on: 04/16/08 9:27 AM | by Jonathan McKee

Last week my wife and I watched a TV show where a student was expelled from school for protesting an abstinence assembly by playing George Michael’s song “I Want Your Sex” over a boombox. In this fictional prime time TV drama, the student and her lawyer preached that “abstinence sex education” was an oxy-moron. They jested that it was setting up kids for failure by telling them to not use condoms and not telling them the whole story.

This is not to far off from Planned Parenhood’s claim that  “…the national policy of promoting abstinence-only programs is a $1.5 billion failure, and teenage girls are paying the real price.”

I was frustrated watching the TV show. After all, I’ve seen good and bad abstinence education. At the beginning of this season of American Idol we saw two ludicrous examples. We saw a young girl contestant who claimed that she taught abstinence education. Simon skeptically asked her, “Go ahead and share a little bit of your pitch.”

She began her weak, inarticulate case that sounded something like, “uh… well you just shouldn’t. There is so much other stuff to do instead like sports. So don’t do it.”

A week later an awkward middle-aged man too old for the competition claimed that he had a song that kids needed to hear. This goofy little man began singing his rediculous song, “No sex allowed! I don’t want to be part of that crowd!” (Randy and Paula joined in, jesting)

Is this what the world thinks of the message of abstinence? A bunch of homely losers who can’t “get laid” anyway so we are telling others, “Just clench your knees together and everything will be alright!”

I don’t think that’s a true representation of abstinence education. But we would be ignorant to not search for answers to this epidemic. (yes… I call 1 in 4 teenage girls getting a disease an epidemic). After all, whether we agree with it or not… whether we like it or not… we’ve been teaching abstinence in schools and churches for the last few years, and the problem is not better.

Hence yesterday’s blog asking for answers.

The world’s answer is to swing the pendulum all the way back and claim, “Bush’s program isn’t working. So instead, let’s get excited about Trojan’s new ‘Evolve’ campaign: Use a condom every time.”

I don’t think that a false sense of security is the answer.

But the church seems to be saying that condoms are never the answer.

In yesterday’s blog someone had the guts to bring up that tough question in their comments. Randi asked:

“…if the statistics I’m reading are correct and 70% of teens DO have sex before they are 18, then at least 5 of the girls in my youth group are going to have sex before they are 18, and some of them might get STD’s or end up pregnant too.

That in mind, this is my question: is it inappropriate to discuss using condoms or other such things at church? I’m torn because on the one hand, I definitely DO NOT want to go there and then have the youth think that we are saying “Hey, if you use a condom, that’s a free pass to go have sex”

Randi asked the question that abstinence-education is being criticized for not asking. (and note: she just asked a question- that’s not a sin, you know!)

Chuck responded to this saying, “I think we need to talk about condom use. However, only from the standpoint of their unaffectiveness.”

“Pilgrim” responded like this: “It’s not only condoning, but capitulating to the lies of the culture that helped get us here! Would we tell teens that because they are already going to drink alcohol, they should choose a designated driver to cut down their chances of a DUI?”

Todd said this: “I agree with pilgrim. The Bible is so clear on this and honestly I get sick to my stomach when I see churches and pastors begin to compromise BIBLICAL STANDARDS for cultural opinions. There is just no place for it. Why stop at sex and drinking, what about cheating, drugs, murder…remember when sin was sin???”

Are they right?

In New York Times’ recent article about Harvard’s “Students of Virginity” (an excellent article that presents a case for a Harvard club that believes waiting is the answer) mentioned some sobering facts:

“…those who took virginity pledges preserved their technical virginity about 18 months longer than teenagers who didn’t pledge, yet they were six times more likely to engage in oral sex than virgins who hadn’t taken a pledge. They were also much less likely to use condoms during their first sexual experience or to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.”

Fact: Kids who have taken abstinence pledges tend to be more in danger of teen pregnancy than those who haven’t.

I’m simply asking… how can we equip our kids NOT to fail?

And people are asking a good question: if a kid listens to the abstinence message and says, “Nope, I’m gonna have sex.” Should we say… “Well, still don’t buy a condom because that would just be admitting to the fact that you’re going to do it!”???

It’s hard for me to get excited about this when I know condoms aren’t the answer. But all facts considered… is Randi’s question bad?