KELSEY REED: Hello. Welcome to Concurrently: The News Coach Podcast from WORLD Radio and God’s WORLD News. Our mission is to come alongside you, learning and laboring with you as you disciple kids and teens through culture and current events. My name is Kelsey Reed. And I’m here with Jonathan Boes.
JONATHAN BOES: Hello!
KELSEY: Together, we want to model conversations and practice tools that you can use at home or in the classroom. And as always, we invite you to write in with your comments, with your questions, maybe even with a recording. We love to hear your voices. We love to interact with the things that are on your mind and heart. So send in your thoughts, questions, recordings to email@example.com.
JONATHAN: And a reminder that you can sign up for the News Coach newsletter that’s coming out every week. Kelsey is curating discipleship resources, and this newsletter also just contains everything the News Coach has produced during the week. So if you want to follow what’s going on on the podcast, on the blog, anything else we might be doing, the newsletter is the place to find all of that. You can sign up at gwnews.com/newsletters. And we received a response to our first newsletter, actually, from Randy. He wrote to us:
Thanks for the newsletter. True, discipleship starts with relationship. I pastor a small church among Navajo Indians. We have a large group of children attending. Now is the time I have opportunity to disciple them—as relationships develop.
Thanks and may God bless you,
Thank you, Randy, for that comment. Your words there about relationship, the importance of relationship to discipleship, you know, that gets our gears turning. And that informs what we’re going to do on today’s episode.
KELSEY: And we’re really excited about it. Because, as we’ve mentioned before, I get that opportunity of being in person with you at conventions. We learn a lot from hearing and being with you, present with you. Well, the other way that we get to do that is when you write in your thoughts, your questions. I emphasized that even in our intro today, how we want to shape the content that we create here, what we share, what we talk about, muse on, seek to evaluate, based on the things that you are experiencing in your context. We love having that opportunity to even extend the conversation. Many of those places where we have been through the year, I have had a chance to have ongoing conversations with folks that I met at conventions, those who volunteered in the booth. I’m shouting out to you, Sarah. And I just really am so thankful that we can continue to shape our thoughts together with you, our community.
JONATHAN: When you’re making a podcast, it can so easily feel like a monologue. But we truly want this to be a dialogue. We want to be interacting with the people who are listening to this and using it. And so today, instead of just tackling one subject in culture or current events, we are going to read and respond to feedback we’ve received recently. And our first piece of feedback comes from Debra, and she is writing to us about our school choice episode, the episode we did on school choice where we were joined by Amy Auten.
KELSEY: So Debra says:
I listened to your recent episode on school choice, and I want to thank you for your thoughtfulness. In particular, I appreciate the reminder that fear cannot be the motivating factor in our choices, and we must entrust the salvation of our children to our good God.
I noticed, however, that public school was portrayed mostly in a very positive, or at least neutral, light, and perhaps, because I’m from California, I see public schools very differently. I have had very different experiences in the public school system that led me to resign from teaching English at a public high school to homeschool my own children.
As an immigrant, I attended a public high school where my parents had little involvement due to language and cultural barriers. In high school in the 1990s, I was told by my world history teacher that “every single person has had a homosexual thought.” I heard more about the Gay Straight Alliance than about the history of the world. In AP English, my teacher commented that I was a sweet, innocent girl who could write but needed to read for “sex” in the texts. After earning my credential, I went back to the same high school to teach. Jonathan Boes is right—we do what has been modeled for us. Hence, even though I was a Christian teacher who wanted to reach my students with the gospel, I was reading and teaching texts in the way I was taught...including some critical theory.
I left the high school in the midst of the George Floyd crisis when the rest of my department was calling for more “diverse” literature and my younger co-workers were writing course descriptions that read, “In freshmen English, students find themselves.” It was the peak of the pandemic, so I resigned to homeschool my own children.
In reading Christ-centered curriculum to teach my own children, I realized half of what I was teaching to my students was just awful. I’m thankful for this time away from the classroom so that I can relearn what would truly be beneficial to teach, but I wonder how much of that I would be able to communicate in a secular classroom.
In teaching my children, then, I’ve learned how God is the source of all knowledge and the giver of language, and a meaningful transmission of knowledge cannot separate truth from its source. Can a secular classroom point students in this direction?
I guess what I want to add to the discussion are these two questions:
1. How much should parents consider content in their choice of schooling? There’s “influence” that I think your podcast discussed extensively (e.g.: teachers who discipled their students), but should Christian parents consider how curricula point to or detract from God as truth?
2. Current public school teachers have been trained by some very anti-Christian universities. What content do they transmit, even if they have hearts that long to serve God? (I’m nearly 50 years old, but I need to do some unlearning.)
Wow. I mean, this first email from Debra was one of the best ways to just continue to challenge us to think carefully about how we engage our children, how we engage the schools that they’re in, and even to do deeper work for understanding how—content and language and epistemology, because that’s what she’s pointing to—how can we know truth?
JONATHAN: Yes. Debra, I love your learner’s posture throughout this whole email, the way you stepped back from what you had been doing and teaching, and looked at it, and reconsidered, and learned. That is a worthy example, to emulate that mindset in our lives, to not just be stuck in one way, but to be comparing the things we are doing and saying to God’s word. Even if our hearts are in the right place, you know, sometimes we step into things that aren’t the right things. And also, I love that you’re bringing this context that we didn’t have in our episode. We brought Amy in because we wanted to try to expand the number of perspectives at the table. But none of us are from California, none of us are public school teachers. And it’s one of those things where I think every state is different, too, and every community is different. You specifically mentioned California. And that immediately brought to mind something for me. My wife, Chelsea, recently reviewed a book for the grown-up magazine. The book is To Be a Woman by Katie J. McCoy. One of the things that McCoy writes about in that book is that, in California, young children in public education cannot opt out of gender education, secular gender education, with the—of course, you know, all sorts of unbiblical gender identity ideas being taught. And so that’s a situation where, yeah—the choice about whether to send your kids to public school, in that context, is a lot different than maybe in another place where those things aren’t being taught or where you have the option to opt out of them. And so thank you so much, Debra, for bringing not just your perspective as a as a school teacher, but your perspective from a different place in a different community, where there are different rules and curriculum influencing the schools.
KELSEY: It’s interesting. I was thinking, as I read your letter again, Debra, how my own experience has some touchpoints with yours. I graduated from a public school in Colorado, and four years later, about five years later, returned to that school to teach French. So I was also a public school teacher in the context that I had graduated from, and it was very interesting to find just how that context had changed. But at 23, I was given a lot of leeway to influence curricula, at that point in time. I’m not sure that the same leeway would be given to me in this year, in this age that we’re in right now. I was also teaching French. And so some of these places, they were last bastions, I think, of places where some of these philosophies did not creep in quite so easily. And again, I would be surprised if they have not crept into even the foreign language arts. I see so much reflected, even in our apps that we use for foreign language learning. It is everywhere. And it is modeled in everything that we’re engaged in. And I’m making this touchpoint of the change, and where we see all of that content creeping—I’m making this point because whether or not our children are in a public school setting, there is content that is in even our homes that requires for us to engage with careful interrogation. We’ve talked about that before, with a sense that we need to constantly be on the alert, reframing, modeling a different way that is godly and allows them to have a sure foundation for whatever they experience, and to question or to come back to us. My eight-year-old, she’s learning Spanish through Duolingo. She will come back and ask questions based on the content that she’s seeing, the little cartoon characters and what they’re saying in their cartoon character voice. So it doesn’t solve the problem.
But what does it look like for us to recognize that worldview? And this is where another connection point to a second letter is going to creep in, where it will go back to a second letter from Debra. Worldview is in everything that we engage. And so what does it look like, then, for us to be aware of it and to develop our own sense of worldview?
JONATHAN: So we’re touching on Debra’s first question, the question about content. And what you’re bringing up for me, Kelsey, is something that I think we mentioned in our episode on banned books. I think that’s the one where we talked about the difference between what we’re reading and how we are teaching it or walking kids through it. You can say—if the Communist Manifesto is being read in class, there’s a big difference between “We’re reading this to see this is what communists believe, and this is historically what set the foundation of the Soviet Union” versus reading it as “These are good ideas about economics.” You know, the content in a curriculum, it so depends on the way we are walking students, kids through it. And, of course, there’s always a line where something is so egregious that you want to cut it off. But there’s also a place for even bad ideas being in the curriculum, if they are being taught with a critical eye and by faithful teachers.
Before we jump into Debra’s second letter, do we want to touch on the second part of her question—the current public school teachers attending what she refers to as anti-Christian universities, and the idea that some of these bad ideas could be trickling down even through well-intentioned teachers?
KELSEY: Absolutely, because it’s such a perfect pivot point for talking further about worldview, which she dives into more deeply in this other letter, and we’ve had several now. But in our secular institutions—and you and I spoke about this last week—there is this thought that a secular institution is non-biased, is neutral. And that’s really not true. Secular humanism is another type of worldview. And we see it coming out of educators, famous educators like John Dewey—Debra mentioned him as well—seeking to bring into an environment a different perspective that allows for a multiplicity of perspectives, but unfortunately winds up really distilling into this secular humanistic thought. And the crux of secular humanism? We eradicate that there could be an authority over man. Man ends up placing himself as authority over any expression of religion. So just as in the garden, man is putting himself in authority over the moral law, or over God, or any institution that there might be a higher power, secular humanism places humanity at the top. And so that is what we see going on in secular public high school, secular universities, and they then tend to have this lovely buffet of other secular thought that they like to put on their plate, walking down this smorgasbord as it were, and adding to their plate from feminism, from Marxism. This is that hodgepodge of ideas that ends up being, I think, distilled into that understanding of “critical theory.” I don’t think that that’s the best way to define it. Please don’t hear that as a strict definition. But that is what we see in operation. That is the worldview that is undergirding all of the curricula in our secular institutions.
So Debra and I went on to talk some further about identifying those worldviews and even recognizing that worldviews exist. So I asked her some of these questions, to which she responded:
I appreciate your question about worldviews, and I think I have known the importance of worldviews and I knew my own worldview, in a way, but since I was not taught worldviews comprehensively, I was never able to teach it effectively. I only thought about select elements of worldview, such as the nature of man. I did not read Francis Schaeffer until just two years ago, and I only learned about his name through The World and Everything In It . . . so I think, who should have taught this to me while I was preparing for my teaching career? My public high school teachers didn’t present this; my undergrad and education professors didn’t present this. I obtained a masters in English once I had started teaching, and it was there that I took a class on critical theory and learned to read literature from a psychoanalytical, feminist, ethnic, and queer point of view (the “other”).
Should I have learned this at church? Though I think worldview is crucial to understanding how our faith engages with culture (the topic of your seminar!—wish I could be there!), I feel churches are hesitant to spend extensive time on the topic since it seems abstract and irrelevant to daily Christian living, though I would strongly argue otherwise. I love all of the pastors and Sunday school teachers who have shepherded me so faithfully over the years, and I recognize their limitations. I only saw them once or twice a week after all, but I think it is through listening to podcasts and reading my daughter’s curriculum, which requires reading about worldviews in James Sires book The Universe Next Door, that I’ve learned to describe and critique worldviews more meaningfully. If I learned this outside of my preparation for teaching, how do other credentialed teachers learn it?
JONATHAN: It’s a big question.
KELSEY: And it’s so spot on.
JONATHAN: You know, I think, definitely, it depends on your church background. Some churches are super on-the-ball with engaging the idea of worldview. I was blessed to grow up in a church where this is something we talked about. I think, even in youth group, I was hearing these terms. And so I’m really thankful for that. Other churches, maybe, you know, it’s not as discussed, as you mentioned, and there are these limitations. But I think what you’re modeling, Debra, and your response here, is really one of the most powerful ways to go about that. It’s not something we can always rely on to be brought to us from an external source. Sometimes it’s something we need to seek out. It’s that intentionality to grow, not just in our walk with Christ, but in knowing the reasons for our faith and understanding the world around us—which is part of our walk with Christ. I don’t want to disconnect those. But to intentionally seek those things out, those books and podcasts, to be learning and growing—I don’t think there is really any other sort of workaround for this process of learning about worldview.
KELSEY: And I’m so glad that you mentioned that, because our entire existence, in our moment, is a process of learning gradually. We aren’t born with all knowledge. We can’t know what we don’t know. We learn together. We learn through greater and greater revelation of the Lord to us through His agents. And there’s so much grace for this process. So while we might have a twinge of regret that we didn’t know something before, there’s so much joy in knowing that that’s actually the Father’s plan for us, and it’s a good plan, and that we are moving more and more towards Him, and so are our children. And He is faithful to us. He brings us through to that place of completion. So ongoing conversation—we will keep up the conversation with Debra and about worldview and about thinking about school choice and even—school as mission field, can we embrace it?
JONATHAN: And so we want to move on to some other feedback. But real quick, before we move on from Debra, there’s one thing from that letter that I wanted to highlight, just to bring out a little bit of the tension in this. Because she mentioned, in the wake of the murder of George Floyd, this push for more diversity in school reading. And I think there really is a tension to explore there, where there is this philosophy she is observing, where diversity becomes the end-all-be-all of a curriculum. And there’s something really to challenge in that. But I think there’s also—we always do this affirm and challenge. And again, this is something I’ve got to leave in the court of the listeners to process with themselves and their own kids. But to affirm and challenge, you know—challenge, okay, should diversity be the end-all-be-all of education? But also, there are these categories gender theory, and the queer reading of literature, which we would, from a Christian worldview, push back on. But there are—when we’re talking about different races, different ethnicities, these peoples that God created—there is something to affirm, I think, in that urge to turn to literature, to turn to fiction, as a way of understanding that other context. If you are somebody from outside of a certain culture, sometimes fiction is a really great window into that culture that actually helps us build empathy, and even become better citizens if we’re living in a diverse culture where people are coming from different backgrounds. So I think that’s an interesting thing to explore from an affirm-and-challenge lens. Where is that line between diversity becoming almost an idol in education, but also the healthy aspect of using literature, using our learning, to open our eyes to perspectives that make us more well-rounded people? There’s a tension in that.
KELSEY: And as always, our framework, or our foundation, for affirming and challenging is a deeper understanding of the Lord’s word. And so we press into the word even as we press into the world, to try to understand and engage it well. So more from engaging the things of this world—I want you to read the next letter.
JONATHAN: So we have an email from Brian. This is in response to our episode on cancel culture. He writes:
Hello Kelsey and Jonathan!
I just listened to the latest episode on “cancel culture” and it was very insightful and relevant as I have been thinking of these issues especially during this Pride Month [he wrote to us a few months ago] where it seems canceling is going in many different directions.
My question is simple: Is it ever OK to cancel culture? And if yes, when?
I kind of got the impression, from the dialogue and the examples in the show, that we should always seek to be open to forebear to cancel any thought (again, exempting criminal behavior or obviously intentionally hurtful speech).
However, I do believe there are scenarios where not canceling can be the wrong choice.
Example: Nazi leader (or Jihadist) is invited to 3rd grade school classroom to speak of their opinions on ethnic groups. In this case, I do believe that the parents, if not the teachers, would be derelict to not cancel such “culture.”
We are seeing many cases of conservative Christians canceling all types of culture in public places and/or places with captive children. Public transgender displays of culture, marketplace display of transgender products. . . . None of those things are necessarily controlled by laws (yet), but by the withdrawal of support by the general public. Aren’t boycotts “cancel culture” efforts?
Personally, I do believe there are times, though we can listen and have rational or otherwise civil discourse with certain cultures, we should also seek to cancel to protect the vulnerable. Though I can listen, can my 13-year-old daughter listen just as harmlessly?
So, I do not disagree with your [premises]. I felt like they may have missed an opportunity to add some depth to the conversation from a “when to cancel” standpoint.
Thanks again for all you do, and thanks for always hearing our feedback.
So thank you, Brian, for that response, and even some of that push back to our episode.
KELSEY: So some of what we did in terms of interacting with Brian is to seek to be really careful about splitting apart our terms. I think for me, as much as anything, the challenge gets high when there are a number of different terms in the air, and I just have to reground my thinking in order to discern, what is this specific aspect of culture going on? And what is it distinctly? How is it different, cancel culture versus boycotting or censoring?
JONATHAN: Yeah, because even “cancel culture,” that is such a recent term. And it’s so nebulous, and it’s kind of one of those online things where—what can you fit in that bucket of “canceling”? It’s so—the terms are floating around.
KELSEY: Right. And so some of what we’re doing, as we are learning the rapidly changing terms in culture, we’re trying to show how they differ or how they’re even kind of moonlighting as other things sometimes. And we’re wanting to nail them down and make them stay put long enough to really wrap ourselves around them, and to think of a discerning response to them, a gracious, godly response, so that we can also coach that kind of response in our children. So some of that conversation continued, as we define those terms, as we split them apart, and as we continue to empower the discernment of the parent. Parent, teacher, you who are in the context with the children in front of you, you need to help them to hear, to listen to things that are appropriate to them, and to mute the things, pause the things that are really not appropriate for them. And so that discernment of when to maybe withdraw from those elements of culture, the culture that surrounds us, absolutely needs to be in the hands of the parent. But I’m not sure that it is defined in the same way as we sought to try to define cancel culture as a phenomenon.
JONATHAN: In our episode on banned books, which is a different episode than the one he’s responding to, but we—I think we brought out the idea that there’s a big difference between banning a book from the school library, where little kids are going to be reading it, versus banning the book from the public library and essentially saying “This idea just shouldn’t be in culture.” And I think there’s a similar tension here in Brian’s response, where once you bring the element of children into it, there’s a deeper, higher level of discernment, where—when I think of canceling, I’m thinking of, you know, you’re trying to totally silence somebody’s ideas or influence. Saying that a certain idea shouldn’t be in the classroom, to me—I don’t know. Some people might call that canceling. To me, that’s just a necessary aspect of discernment. Because certainly, there are ideas you don’t want to be in the classroom. But when you say, “Well, should those ideas not be anywhere in culture?” That’s when it gets a little dicey here.
And when you bring in those really, you know, really obviously evil examples that he pulls in, of like Nazis or Jihadists—yeah, maybe those ideas should be canceled in culture, not even just in the classroom. So it’s, I think, one of the things we tried to bring out in our episode, is that there’s really no “one size fits all” response to this issue. It’s so dependent on what we’re talking about, and the context, who and what and why, where are things being said, what ideas are being espoused? And there’s this urge to just have an answer to be able to say, “Canceling is always bad.” But like so much of biblical wisdom, it’s not just a checklist of rules we can tick off. It’s—we need to be building wisdom over time and cultivating that Christian worldview, again, so that situation by situation we can have a godly response. And that is a lot. That’s not something you can do on a podcast. It’s something that you can only do through learning and experience. And it’s something that—man, I’m trying to grow in.
KELSEY: I think of some of the other things that we touched on regarding cancel culture as a phenomenon, that in living in a pluralistic society, it cuts both ways, where maybe the thinking of believers becomes unpopular, and it falls subject to the same action, as we would say is absolutely correct to be done towards those extremes in particular that we have seen in this example, we would absolutely give the thumbs up of what it means to censor or to cancel, if we’re going to try to use that word that way— although again, I kind of resist that, as this is a newer idea, and it’s still being brought into its full iteration and full understanding. But that idea cuts both ways. I’m thinking right now as we talk about it of a piece of fiction, Jane Eyre. I’m going to quote something that she says when she’s training Adele, her little charge. Adele is under the care of Jane Eyre, who is a governess in the household, and Jane Eyre is teaching her how to draw. And she says to Adele the shadow is as important as the light. We talked with Rebecca about how studying the darkness is not what we’re about. We’re about studying the light and allowing that to show where the shadows are. But the light does show the shadows. And the shadows need to be discerned and named. And if we simply try to cancel out the shadow, and not engage with it intentionally, we’re actually failing to equip our children. So that’s just something, again, to put into the court of the listener. How do we view both the light and the shadow? How do we help our children to discern what is light and what is shadow? What is darkness?
JONATHAN: So thank you, Brian, for your feedback pushback on our cancel culture episode. You’ve given us a lot to chew on, and you’ve brought more shades to our thinking on this topic.
We have more listener feedback. We have a response to our episode on Christian nationalism. This comes from Sheri, who—actually, I know her from Pennsylvania. We went to the same church for a season of life. She writes:
I really appreciate the calm tone, the thought and care for the body of Christ that this discussion had. Self-examination is important for the church. It’s vital, particularly in the American church currently. But there are other places around the globe where things have gotten fuzzy about nationalism once again. So this is timely, and not something we can keep silent about. It’s on the back burner sending steam into the air all around us. Ultimately, if we are known more by our political stand than our transformation by Jesus Christ, our witness is actually powerless. I long for the day where these extra robes/armor we choose to wear will fall off as we rise to meet our Savior.
Thank you, Sheri. Amen to that. I did follow up with her, just because she mentioned that briefly about other places in the globe and nationalism rearing its head in the church, and I wanted her thoughts on that. So I actually reached out to her over Facebook and got some more thoughts from her, and I’m going to read some of this and summarize it just for length. But she writes about her husband:
Kornelius is German, although now a U.S. citizen. He has lived under Soviet rule in the former Soviet Union. His family, being German living in the [former] USSR was followed, punished, stripped of properties, and forced to flee . . . Kornelius was 11 when they got out legally to Germany. He knows what nationalism, and I’m referring to nationalism which excludes a group of people, to treat them as less than, to only desire one type of thought or religion. I’m not talking about patriotism, which is a love for one’s country. Those who have been pushed out and excluded never have a true homeland. So naturally, flag-waving and things are not something oppressed people groups or cultures embrace. Understandably. Patriotism was used by the Nazis . . . in itself it is a fine thing, but when taken to an extreme, awful things can happen fairly quickly.
The country where most all of my husband’s family lives, Germany, a beautiful country . . . has been recently caving to some very dangerous beliefs. They start to fear the immigrants that recent leaders allowed in, legally. They have a large Turkish population in NRW where most of our relatives live. Our niece works with some of the immigrants. It is difficult and yet Christian work to help those less fortunate and respect them as image-bearers of God.
She goes on to write a bit about the place she’s attending church right now, that there’s a diverse mix of political beliefs within that church body, but that, in the midst of that, there’s a healthy mix of opinions and that they are, you know, in scripture, that they’re “open to the Holy Spirit’s leading,” is what she says. And she writes, “I’m learning to never underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit.”
So thank you so much Sheri, for expounding on your thoughts there. You know, this coming from such a personal place, where her family has experienced what it’s like to be people from one culture transplanted to a different culture, and on the receiving end of the negative trends of nationalism that seek to exclude cultures that they don’t think fit within certain national borders.
KELSEY: I use that lens of my own experience overseas, and pointing to it as a way by which I was able to critique my home culture. And it is definitely in this more global perspective that we’re able to hear things that need pushed back and shaping, not to just fall into complacency and go, “Oh well, this is our culture,” or even get to the point where we might have a very positive view—kind of hyper-patriotism is maybe what we could say. I don’t know that it’s always Christian nationalism within our culture, but we can get hyper-patriotic. We can get so blinded to what it means to be a part of a greater kingdom that we can sometimes just swallow things whole. And it is phenomenal to have those cross-cultural experiences, to have those experiences of somebody who has come to us from another culture. I’m thinking of Debra. I’m thinking of these conversations that help to open our eyes further towards what faithfulness within a culture looks like and where we’re putting our trust, what we’ve hung our hat on, what we’re truly invested in. So thankful for those comments, and thankful for how it reaches to greater corners of the globe and informs our prayers.
JONATHAN: And I love that Sheri brings it back to the local church, and the working of the Holy Spirit. Because this issue of nationalism—on one hand, there’s only so much we can do when it comes to the national scale. Like, we can vote a certain way, and we can seek to disciple our children with wisdom in this subject. But really, the place where Sheri lands here, I think that’s the most impactful and transformative realm when it comes to issues like this that can be so contentious. You know, it’s in this context, where we are in a church with our brothers and sisters, and we are worshiping the same God, we have our eyes focused on the same ultimate goal and ultimate kingdom, that we can confront these idols. When country or culture become idols, we can look to our brothers in Christ, or they can look at us and say, “Those words you’re using to describe immigrants, I don’t think those words describe Christ’s love.” And when that’s coming to you in a context where it’s somebody you know and trust, and you know they want what’s good for you and your spiritual growth, and you’re worshiping the same God and sharing the same cup of communion—that can be a powerful and transformative thing, through the work of the Spirit. And so often these issues of nationalism, you know, where they come out is places like social media, where it’s this heated argument, and that never transforms people. That just entrenches people, it just makes these tensions worse. But in this neighborly context of community and love, and iron sharpening iron, what Sheri is describing here, of being able to have a church community with a diversity of opinions, but where people are seeking growth in the Spirit—I think that is truly the most powerful place to confront the negative tendencies of nationalism.
KELSEY: The alternative to the transformative and the generative is the divisive, is that which tears down, breaking down culture, breaking down even families. And so we covered that topic with a response to tearing down Confederate monuments and these memorials to a time that was very divisive in our history. And we got a great response about that episode from somebody hailing from South Carolina. And he says:
Good afternoon. I wanted to reach out and thank you for the way you and Mr. Boes handled the issue of Confederate memorials on your podcast. As a soldier, a veteran, a southerner, and a student of Civil War history, I have more than a few powerful ties to the issue. The way you approached the subject was balanced, loving, generous, and God-centered. Such an approach is a potent salve to a stinging issue, and I’m deeply grateful for your thoughtful handling thereof.
JONATHAN: That was from Ethan, writing to us, you said from South Carolina. Thank you so much, Ethan. That is—I’ll just say that’s such an encouragement. We have varying degrees of confidence in the episodes we record, and when there’s a subject, like you said, that can be a stinging issue, sometimes we just have to leave it in God’s hands and say, “We pray that our hearts come across and that we don’t cause undue offense.” And your words are an encouragement. So thank you.
KELSEY: And it is absolutely our heart’s desire. Again, another concept that this dialogue with you brings out, that is a formative concept in our formation at Concurrently, was the desire to be voices that are not divisive, that are non-anxious, that seek to engage the conversation across that diversity of perspectives, and to acknowledge that there is a diversity of experience in each of our histories, in each of our cultural contexts. And Jonathan and I, we reflected a couple aspects of that diversity in our conversation, because we hail from different areas of the states and we’ve studied different things. And it, we hope, contributes to a furthering of a conversation that we might continue to unite, rather than to divide. So thank you for that kind feedback.
Lastly, we have another voice that shows up often in our email box—and we just love having a chance to interact in a consistent basis with any of you—but Aaron is one who has been with us from the beginning and who chimes in quite frequently. Jonathan is going to read something we received from him.
JONATHAN: A few weeks back, Aaron Friar sent us a question about data privacy, and we responded to that in a full episode. Then, after we released that episode, he got back to us again and wrote:
Dear News Coach,
Wanted you to know that I listened to that well researched podcast on digital privacy that was born out of the question to my 13-year-old son. It definitely gave me much to think about that I had not already discovered.
Throughout, I kept thinking, “Yes, I care about that point, but I do not think my son will.” Then you got to the whole realm of influence, and I said, “Aha, now you are speaking his language.” It is popular in his generation to desire fame as an influencer, but everyone is slow to admit how they have been influenced by others.
Again, thanks. This episode, along with the one referenced with Collin Garbarino, is now how I begin my Middle School class on Civics: Where do we get our information, how do we trust it, and how do we preserve the dignity of our own private thoughts/opinions?
Kudos to you and WORLD News Group. Long live Christian journalism that informs, educates, and inspires!
Thank you, Aaron.
KELSEY: We’re so grateful, again, for continued conversation. Thank you for the way that you help us know when we’re hitting on something that is close to home. And thank you for challenging us. This affirm and challenge methodology is truly something we love to receive from you, as well as seeking to practice it ourselves. We seek to engage with that mind of Christ, where we can look at the world and see where He is there in operation, to seek to discerningly engage those rapidly changing technologies, like what Aaron mentioned, and even the rapidly changing terms, as with cancel culture, or discerning—what really is Christian nationalism? And we just invite, always, for you to bring the things to us that are on your screen, or to bring up with us, keep us to account when we flounder or maybe need some good challenge from our brothers and sisters in Christ.
JONATHAN: And something I love that Aaron does here is, he pointed out some of the things we talked about—he was like, “I don’t know if my son will connect with that,” and other things, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, my son will get that point.” And so, to those of you listening to this, if you have feedback for us about things that have been helpful with your kids, or things that have not been as helpful with your kids—man, it’d be great to hear about that. We’d love to hear how are these conversations practically playing out for you in your context, with your kids or your students. We’d love to hear what has been helpful, what hasn’t been so helpful, or where do you feel the need for more help? Because again, we want to be able to make this a dialogue, and to best serve you through what we’re doing here at the News Coach.
KELSEY: So I was thinking again about this verse. I think we’ve used it before. It’s from Philippians.
JONATHAN: We can’t read the same Bible verse twice!
KELSEY: So Philippians—I’m going to actually have to have you nail it down the precise one, but I know it’s in chapter three. It’s “Not that I’ve obtained all this, nor have I already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ has taken hold of me.” And I think that’s Philippians 3:12. But I think we need to make sure that we double check that.
JONATHAN: Or else they will revoke your seminary degree.
KELSEY: That’s right. Oh dear.
JONATHAN: But no, that’s so good.
KELSEY: Thanks for pressing on with us, parent, teacher, mentor of kids and teens. You have the greatest impact where you are. You are contextualized with that person across from you to have these relationships, to have these conversations. We just get to have a little part in that, and we’re so thankful. And we’re also thankful to show the conversation that you are bringing. He has equipped us for that conversation, and for the work that is ours in the world.
Today on Concurrently, we’re continuing the conversation by responding to listener feedback on school choice, cancel culture, Christian nationalism, and more.
Check out The Concurrently Companion for this week’s downloadable episode guide including discussion questions and scripture for further study. Sign up for the News Coach Newsletter at gwnews.com/newsletters.
We would love to hear from you. You can send us a message at firstname.lastname@example.org. What current events or cultural issues are you wrestling through with your kids and teens? Let us know. We want to work through it with you.
See more from the News Coach, including episode transcripts.
- Debra’s feedback comes from Episode 36: School choice and abundant grace (with Amy Auten).
- Brian’s feedback comes from Episode 24: Cancel culture and the whole person.
- Sheri’s feedback comes from Episode 37: God, country, and Christian nationalism.
- Ethan’s feedback comes from Episode 31: Confederate monuments and constructive revisionism.
- Aaron’s feedback comes from Episode 34: Data privacy, big tech, and human value.
Concurrently is produced by God’s WORLD News. We provide current events materials for kids and teens that show how God is working in the world. To learn more about God’s WORLD News and browse sample magazines, visit gwnews.com.
Today’s episode is sponsored by Covenant College.
Looking for an unapologetically Christian College Experience? Pursuing knowledge transformed by faith, Covenant College prepares students for their callings and careers. Covenant is located on top of Lookout Mountain, Georgia, 20 minutes from Chattanooga, Tennessee. Students who visit are eligible to receive a grant of $1,200. More at Covenant.edu/world.
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