The Lies of “Paul”

Posted on: 03/30/11 2:57 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Maybe you’ve seen previews for the new film, “Paul,”  the comedy about two nerds and an alien on a roadtrip across America.

Despite the R rating, this film has a huge draw to teenagers. That’s why it might be good to know that it was by far one of the most irresposible and offensive films I’ve seen in the last decade.

I went ahead and wrote up my two cents and a discussion guide for parents and youth workers for our new MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page. I’ll be adding this review within the next 24 hours. I wanted to give you, my blog readers, the first peak.

Paul (In Theatres)
Rated R for language including sexual references, and some drug use.
Starring: Seth Rogan, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Kristen Wig, Jason Bateman, Sigourney Weaver…
I haven’t been this offended since Ricky Gervais’ film, The Invention of Lying.
I was sooooooooooooooooo disappointed with this film. Let me just start by reminding many of you that I am not only a film geek, I’m kinda a nerd at times. If I could afford one of those really cool storm trooper costumes, I’d wear it regularly around the house just for fun. My son and I regularly quote movies together, often quoting Star Wars and other science fiction classics. Like I said—“nerd.”
So that being said, I had high expectations from this film from the previews. It looked hilarious, it looked like it was going to spoof numerous films, and the icing on the cake—it was co-written by Simon Pegg, who I really enjoy.
My hesitations, however, were the fact that the film was R for language and some sexual references (an understatement), Seth Rogan was in it (he seems to be attracted to raunchy material), and it was directed by the Superbad’s Greg Mottala.
Okay… putting all those hesitations in black and white does seem to bellow, “Jonathan, how did you not know that this film would dip into the bowels of inappropriateness, selling out for a cheap laugh?!!”
Two words: Simon Pegg.
I really have enjoyed some of Simon’s earlier works (Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, etc.) and I thought this would be the same creatively funny caliber. Unfortunately, Paul focused its efforts more on the offensive.
The film started well with a really creative premise. Two nerds from England (Pegg and Frost) travel the U.S. on a pilgrimage that starting at ComicCon and journeyed dot to dot through America’s UFO heartland. Their road trip is interrupted by a foul mouthed, smoking, drinking, atheist alien named Paul (Rogan).
Here’s where the film got tricky. Paul was cool. Despite his many vices, he was a fun, likable character running from corrupt government leaders that wanted to dissect him. Their adventures were hilarious, filled with classic movie quotes and homages, and cameos from guys like Steven Spielberg himself. It was difficult not to love these moments.
But then, as the story develops, the audience is taken on a journey where everything bad is made to look good, and everything good is portrayed as ridiculous.
The first hint of this was when they meet a quirky Christian named Ruth Buggs (Wiig). Ruth has pictures of Jesus on the wall and is portrayed as sheltered, uptight and naïve. When she discovers that Paul and the nerds don’t believe in God, she tries to argue with them. “The world is 4,000 years old and can only be the product of intelligent design!” Paul simply responds, “That’s horsesh**! Paul uses his powers to show her the supposed truth about the world and Ruth realizes that God was just a hoax. Feeling ripped off, Ruth starts cursing profusely, smoking weed and asks one of the guys if he would “fornicate” with her.
For the rest of the movie, Christianity is made to look ridiculous, evolution is portrayed as common sense fact, and vices like smoking, drinking, cursing, even stealing are celebrated, with no consequences.
The whole theatre loved it! When Ruth tried pot for the first time, the audience celebrated. When she cursed, the audience roared in laughter. When Ruth’s dad tried to get her back, proclaiming, “I’m on a mission from God!” He was shot by an agent who said, “Tell him you failed!” The crowd cheered.
Honestly, it was a heartbreaking experience.
Some day people are going to find out the truth.
Until then, we need to do what Ephesians 4:1 says and live a life worthy of your calling. Then, as we mature and grow in our faith…
 14 Then we will no longer be immature like children. We won’t be tossed and blown about by every wind of new teaching. We will not be influenced when people try to trick us with lies so clever they sound like the truth. 15 Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. (Ephesians 4:14, 15)
Jump on our MOVIE REVIEWS & QUICK Q’s page  for this review and a discussion guide for parents and youth workers– including scripture and discussion questions

MTV’s Insights about the New “Kid-driven” Family

Posted on: 03/29/11 4:28 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Before I dive into today’s topic, I wanna throw something out there. Today’s blog title doesn’t mention “contest” … so I’m going to see how much you guys are actually paying attention.  😉  I’ve got some giveaways for you: I’ve got my hands on the brand new special edition of the classic Academy Award winning The Ten Commandments, the one with Charlton Heston as Moses and Yul Brynner as Pharaoh. It’s just been rereleased on Blu Ray and DVD. I’ve got a copy of each (1 Blu Ray and 1 DVD) that I’m giving away. I’ll also give away 5 copies of my new parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent.

Winning will be simple. Use the comments feature on this blog to post a comment about the subject at hand today– MTV’s take on the modern family (see below). Do you agree with their conclusions or not. At the end of your comment, you must mention the city and state you live in, and whether you would prefer the Blu Ray, the DVD, or my book. I’ll draw 7 winners 24 hours from now. (WINNER NOW POSTED AT BOTTOM)

Onto the subject at hand:

My dad just finished reading my parenting book, and today he forwarded me a relevant article from Fast Company Magazine, titled, Are You M-Ready (about the generation of older teenagers and young 20-somethings known as Millennials). The article interviewed an MTV VP whose job is to research the drives, desires, passions, fears, etc. in the lives of teens today (so they can market to them).

The entire article was intriguing, but the part I found the most interesting was what he described as “tectonic forces” that move beneath much of what defines the uniqueness of this generation.” The first “force” he described was the recalibration of the nuclear family and, as consequence, the way this generation was parented. Where the old family was parent-driven, the new family is more a democracy, if not even kid-driven. Personally, I totally agree with this observation, as probably evidenced by my youth culture window article this week, Raising the Bar, where I lash parents with questions, asking them, “Have you completely given up?!!!”

Here’s MTV VP Nick Shore’s description of this family recalibration. He says it well:


A century of “parent-centered” nuclear family has steadily been under-going a paradigm shift, and may have just passed the tipping point. The nucleus of the family has been moving towards the child, and Millennials look like the first generation raised in that new nuclear family structure. No longer the hierarchical structure with authoritarian parent “leadership,” the new family is flattened to a democracy, with collective (if not kid-driven) decision-making process. Parents are more like best friends, life coaches, or as we at MTV call them “peer-ents.”

75% of Millennials in an MTV study agreed that “Parents of people my age would rather support their children than punish them,” 58% agreed, “My parents are like a best friend to me.”

No longer is it necessary to “rebel against” authoritarian parents to individuate, engage in acts of self-expression, or push at the boundaries. As one youth psychologist we work with pointed out, “Parents don’t say you can’t go to the party, they create safe spaces to consume alcohol, they say Can I pick you up afterwards?, Here’s money for a taxi.”

Sound familiar?

I’m glad to hear Nick provide some of the reasoning why parenting are lowering the bar. It’s simply because… they aren’t in charge anymore. Little Brianna is in charge, and by the way, she wants the new iPhone… today!

Thoughts? Do you observe this? Are MTV’s descriptions of parents (in this article linked above) and my description of parents (in this week’s Youth Culture Window article) fair?


Sherri in Red Lion, PADVD winner

Danielle in Tyngsboro, MA- Blu-Ray winner

Patrick in Marion, Indiana- Book winner

Nick in Orlando, FL- Book winner

Jake in Butte, MT- Book winner

Pete in Glenwood Springs, CO- Book winner

Micah in Salina, KS- Book winner

Teaching Kids Lasting Values

Posted on: 03/28/11 8:23 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Have today’s parents just given up?

Then why is it that the average U.S. parent continues to lower the bar morally for their kids?

  • Do you think parents should allow their 14-year-old girls to dress however they like?
  • Should parents permit their middle school students to download, listen to, and watch whatever they want?
  • Are parents oblivious of what their teenagers are truly doing on a given Friday night?

Sadly, anyone who habitually hangs out in the world of young people knows that all of the random reflections above are overwhelmingly accurate about a majority of U.S. parents today. (Skeptical? Have you been on a public school campus lately? Have you seen the songs that frequent the typical kids’ iPods? Have you observed teenagers at a school dance recently?)

Is ignorance an excuse?

This week, for our Youth Culture Window article I’m including a timely excerpt from my new book, CANDID CONFESSIONS OF AN IMPERFECT PARENT, encouraging parents that they don’t need to lower their standards. While the world around us is lowering the bar, it’s okay to raise the bar and actually teach our kids lasting values.

Click here for that article, RAISING THE BAR: Parents Teaching Their Kids Lasting Values

TV Still Rules

Posted on: 03/24/11 4:06 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m preparing to teach two training workshops this weekend, a “Discipleship” workshop to the teachers/faculty at a Christian school tomorrow, and then my parenting workshop in Eastern PA on Sunday. Doing a little research, I thought I’d check in on the ongoing battle between internet and TV, both media channels vying for our kids’ attention.

This is always an interesting study. Common perception is that kids spend much more time on the internet each day. But time and time again, to most people’s surprise, TV proves to be the primary media “time sponge” for young people.

In Kaiser’s huge media consumption report last year, kids averaged about 90 minutes per day on the internet, where they soaked up a good 4.5 hours on the TV immersed in American Idol, Jersey Shore, Family Guy, etc. (MTV is often the most watched network by young people)

Nielson’s brand new State of the Media report (free registration required to view whole report) reveals just how much TV kids were absorbing each day in quarter four. Check out this chart– the monthly hours of each age group in the last quarter of 2010:   (notice that my age group watches waaaaaaay more TV than our kids)

If you combine the top two rows, 12-17 year-olds are averaging almost 3 hours and 44 minutes per day of TV. About 6 months ago Nielson was reporting 12-17 year olds average about of 3 hours 46 minutes per day. Not much of a shift.

Wondering what people are watching? This past week American Idol still ruled broadcast TV, and Jersey Shore still reigned supreme on Cable.


Candid Confessions is in…

Posted on: 03/22/11 5:29 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Wow… cool surprise today. A huge shipment of my brand new parenting books (due on the shelves April 1) just arrived here today. I tore open a few of the boxes like a kid on Christmas… of course… I knew what was in this present.

I’m staring at a copy right now in my hand. Standard Publishing did a great job putting it together. The cover surprised me– it looks waaaaaay better on the book itself than on the computer screen. My compliments to the printers. The layout is really nice too. They added the “toast smoke” throughout by the end of each of the chapters next to the “Reflection Questions”. The back cover turned out really well too. They chose two good endorsements for the back (Jim Burns and Kevin Leman).

Anyway… they’re here! That means, for those who pre-ordered, AND who order the books from our web site now, I’m mailing out those signed books immediately! (I know, I know… I offered a special deal signing all pre-ordered books. I’ll go ahead and continue signing all copies that people order during this first month). So if you missed the pre-order, no worries. Just order HERE.

Here’s a peek at the back cover.

Standard was also really good about plugging, including the web address on the back cover. Hopefully that will drive a lot more people to the free resources on our parents’ page.

For those that are coming out to my workshop in PA this weekend… I’ll have my books there too.

A huge shout out to all my blog subscribers who helped us choose this cover and get this thing out quickly! Thanks everyone!

Posted in Books, Parenting |  | Leave A Comment

Monogamy a Good Thing?

Posted on: 03/21/11 3:48 PM | by Jonathan McKee

A lot of news about abstinence, sex and monogamy lately, mostly due to a Center for Disease Control report that came out earlier this month reporting that abstinence is actually up.

Yep… you read that right. Today, more kids are waiting to engage in sexual activity.

You can read more about this interesting changing trend- I wrote an entire Youth Culture Window article on the subject, summarizing and linking the report (and others). If you haven’t seen that you’ll wanna be sure and take a peek: Abstinence is Up– But Consequences Not Down.

Pay careful attention to the end of the article, because I implore parents once again, “Have ongoing talks with our kids about sex.” Ongoing conversations is a principle I talk about frequently in my book coming out at the end of this week, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent (Pre-order a signed copy of this book from Jonathan now).

I’ve been seeing some other people chiming in on the subject as well. I found this particular New York Times Opinion page article interesting, Why Monogamy Matters. Here, the author mentions the same report, but also talks about some interesting findings– such as those noted by Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their recent book, “Premarital Sex in America.” According to their research, the more monogamous the woman is, the “happier” she is.

I quote:

Among the young people Regnerus and Uecker studied, the happiest women were those with a current sexual partner and only one or two partners in their lifetime. Virgins were almost as happy, though not quite, and then a young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.

You don’t see that on an episode of Two and a Half Men.

Senior Citizen Texting Dictionary

Posted on: 03/17/11 4:25 PM | by Jonathan McKee

I’m turning 41 this Friday… but I’m not feeling that old. (That’s a good thing, right?)

Sure, I’ve got three teenagers of my own, and that’s probably why I discover new grey hairs daily… but hey! I feel good! Heck, I’ve got almost 30 years left before I can even claim social security!  (Although, I imagine that, even then, I’ll be trying to keep up with the youngins!)

So I found this little piece from my friend Mike over at Mikey’s Funnies pretty amusing:

STC (Senior Texting Codes)

Since more and more seniors citizens are texting and tweeting, there appears to be a need for a STC (Senior Texting Code). If you qualify for senior discounts, these are the codes for you:

ATD: At The Doctor’s
BFF: Best Friend Farted
BTW: Bring The Wheelchair
BYOT: Bring Your Own Teeth
CBM: Covered By Medicare
CUATSC: See You At The Senior Center
DWI: Driving While Incontinent
FWB: Friend With Beta Blockers
FWIW: Forgot Where I Was
FYI: Found Your Insulin
GGPBL: Gotta Go, Pacemaker Battery Low!
GHA: Got Heartburn Again
IMHO: Is My Hearing-Aid On?
LMDO: Laughing My Dentures Out
LOL: Living On Lipitor
LWO: Lawrence Welk’s On
OMMR: On My Massage Recliner
OMSG: Oh My! Sorry, Gas.
ROFL… CGU: Rolling On The Floor Laughing…Can’t Get Up
TTYL: Talk To You Louder
WAITT: Who Am I Talking To?
WTP: Where’s The Prunes?
WWNO: Walker Wheels Need Oil

Posted in Humor, Personal |  | Leave A Comment

Parenting Book and Training Workshop

Posted on: 03/16/11 10:52 AM | by Jonathan McKee

You’ve been seeing a lot of great resources for parents coming from us lately… and here’s a couple more you will definitely want to know about.

1. My new book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent:

I’m getting a shipment of these in just a couple weeks– before they hit the shelves everywhere else. So we just put them up for pre-order on our site- I’m signing every book that’s pre-ordered! (Sorry for some of you who tried to order these earlier this week- we had a glitch on our website book page- it’s ALL FIXED now!)

So pre-order that now and I’ll personally ship you a signed copy as soon as I get the shipment at the end of this month!

2. My Parenting Workshop:

I’ve already got six of these workshops booked across the country for 2011. Check my speaking calendar (about halfway down this pageand see if I’ll be near you. If not, contact me and see about bringing me out to your city.

A week from Sunday I’ll be near Harrisburg, PA doing a parenting workshop. If you’re within driving distance from there, come out to see me at that workshop. I’ll have copies of my new book with me. Here’s more info on that workshop.

Get a Signed Copy of My Parent Book

Posted on: 03/13/11 3:44 PM | by Jonathan McKee

Okay everyone, I just heard that I’m going to receive my shipment of my new parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent, in just a couple weeks- the last week of March, a little earlier than everyone else. So I wanted to offer you a little something:

Anyone who jumps on my parenting page and pre-orders the book in the next two weeks, I’m going to personally sign a copy and ship it to ya.

You can read more about the book and check out what others are saying about it HERE.

Posted in Books, Personal |  | Leave A Comment

But Mom, It’s Only 9PM…

Posted on: 03/9/11 2:14 PM | by Jonathan McKee

This morning I was talking with my 15-year-old daughter Alyssa on the way to school about a friend of hers who she’s been praying for. “She’s always in a bad mood,” Alyssa ranted. “She’s got stressful stuff going on at home and she never gets enough sleep.”

Even though I had a good guess as to why, I asked Alyssa, “Why isn’t she getting enough sleep?”

“Because she stays up late texting a guy every night. He’ll text her in the middle of the night. She doesn’t ever turn off her cell phone.”

Alyssa’s friend isn’t alone. As a matter of fact, her friend is in the majority. According to a brand new study by the National Sleep Foundation:

  • The average hours of sleep per night for 13-18-year-olds is 7 hours and 26 minutes, well short of the 9 hours and 15 minutes recommended by experts.
  • 72% of this age group text the hour before bedtime (which the report related to not getting good or enough sleep)
  • 28% of this age group leave their phone ringers on all night in their bedroom (that doesn’t include vibrate)(this group reports getting much less sleep)
  • Average bedtime for this age group is 11:02 p.m.
  • 13-18-year-olds drink, on average, 3.1 caffeinated beverages a day to try to cope with their lack of sleep.

I’ll be honest. Helping our kids get good sleep isn’t easy. I’m not talking about enforcing a “cell phone is off at night” policy -that’s simple. Parent need to just lay down the law (and frankly, if parents find it difficult to enforce, then they might need to just collect cell phones before bedtime).

The difficulty I’m talking about is dealing with how busy our kids are today and the high expectations from school, sports and every facet of their lives. I know Alyssa really struggles to get it all done and still get to bed at a good time: sports/exercise, piano, homework, family dinners, church, reading her Bible… it’s a lot to cram in. Alyssa and I actually sat down this past weekend and tried to schedule some of this stuff and we came up with the tough conclusion that she might have to quit piano for a while.

These are tough choices to make. Alyssa (15), is getting old enough to start making some of these choices on her own. Lori and I are trying to help “think with her” (those who’ve attended my parenting seminars recognize that little catch phrase) through this process.

As my daughter finished telling me about her friend and got out of the car this morning, I asked her. “So does that mean you’re glad that Mom and I make you guys turn off your cell phones before you go to bed?”

She gave me an evil stare (like, “Shut up, I know you’re right. Don’t gloat in it!”)   🙂

AN ASIDE: My parenting book, Candid Confessions of an Imperfect Parent (released at the end of this month) is probably going to be available for pre-sale next week on