Toxic Sludge…Yum,Yum!

PATHWAY
God: Moral Development
AGE GROUP
14-16 years
Anticipate Time
1.5 hours min
GROUP SIZE
2-5, 5-15, 15-30
Values
Courage, Integrity, Purity, Steadfastness, Truthfulness

Synopsis

Pathfinders will critically analyse 90 second video movie trailers in light of biblical truth, and decide whether they amplify biblical principles or diminish them.

Through participation in this Pursuit, the Pathfinder will:

  1. List methods Satan could use to draw people away from God
  2. Analyse the values presented in a selection of trailers
  3. Explain why Christians should be discriminating in their choice of movie/TV viewing

Scripture Focus

Memory Verse

Philippians 4:8, 9 (Revised Standard Version)
Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

George Miller, director of Babe, Mad Max and Lorenzo’s Oil has some powerful thoughts about the cinema: “I believe cinema is now the most powerful secular religion, and people gather in cinema’s to experience things collectively as they once did in church. Cinema storytellers have become the new priests. They’re doing a lot of the work of religious institutions, which have so concretised the metaphor in their stories, taken so much of the poetry, mystery and mysticism out of religious belief, that people look for other places to question their spirituality.”

Grenville Kent, Australian Adventist and media specialist has some powerful thoughts of his own: “…what stuns me, is that so many Adventist young people get their guidance from movies. Jesus is not their role model. Movies and music define what is cool to do. Their ideas about love are much closer to Pretty Woman than 1 Corinthians 13.

“I believe this is the most critical issue in Adventist youth ministry: Whose values will you live? ‘The Great Controversy ‘is not for planet earth; it’s for the five inches of grey stuff between our ears. Will Jesus really get our attention and imitation? Will He be our idol and star and pin-up and role model? So many Adventists are secular and don’t know it – like fish who don’t feel wet….
The church has traditionally ruled out all movie-going and most young people ignore our advice. Perhaps we would have more influence if we suggest guidelines on how to choose media that is not destructive to our faith or morals… We need to know what lies the movies are putting out so that we can come up with better alternatives. Not just for non-Christians. For our own church kids… 
“Some ideas are like a virus. Your doctor would advise you to stay away from germs. And yet your doctor studies them closely so that he or she knows how to help you. If you’re in Christian leadership, you need to know what you’re up against.”

In an age when the storytellers of our society are telling us ‘Toxic Sludge is good for you – Here eat it’, we need to help our teens to be discriminating consumers. This Pursuit is designed to help with such a quest.

Preperation

  • Preview a number of video trailers yourself (the 90 second advertisements for forthcoming movies, found at the beginning of the video). NB. Most can be downloaded from the Internet from the following address: www.insert movie name here.com (Please ensure you insert the correct movie title you wish to view in this address.)

Select half a dozen which offer a contrast of style and storyline.

  • Ensure the Pathfinders bring their Bibles, or have enough available for them to use.
  • Ensure you have some concordances on hand.
  • Photocopy enough of the tables in the Appendix for each Participant to have one.
  • Mix up a disgusting mixture using whatever you desire. Make sure it smells and looks gross!
  • Put some foul tasting ingredient into ice-cream or a similar nice looking treat. (Stop ‘n Grow nail biting mix or similar) ENSURE THAT WHAT YOU USE IS IN NO WAY TOXIC AND UNFIT FOR HUMAN CONSUMPTION!

NB. In planning this Pursuit, you may like to incorporate the Debrief questions as you go, rather than wait till the end of the Pursuit. That way, the details of the clip are still fresh in their mind, and the questions can be broken up into smaller chunks. Ask your Pathfinders to refer to their assessment sheets as you analyse the trailers together.

Materials:
  • Bibles and concordances
  • Whiteboard or blackboard
  • A number of videos that you know your Pathfinders are into.

NB. Please check the rating and the degree of explicit violence or sex. 
There is a fine line between really confronting them with their level of conditioning in light of biblical advice, and unduly exposing those from a more sheltered background to things which may cause distress to both Parents and Pathfinders alike. The Pathfinders will all be conditioned to different levels of violence. SO PLEASE BE DISCERNING WITH YOUR SELECTIONS! MAKE SURE RATINGS ARE AGE-APPROPRIATE. 

Outline

1. Gather the Pathfinders together and share how you’ve discovered this terrific new recipe. Talk about it as a gourmet delight. Ask who would like to come forward and try your culinary delight. Then, bring your bowl of ‘sludge’ and try and get them to eat it. Ask for words to describe your mixture. 
Ask the following questions:

  • Why don’t you want to eat it?
  • Was my description of my ‘delicacy’ accurate?
  • Why don’t you want to eat sludge?
  • What are some things in life which are sold to us as being trendy, cool, popular – but are really sludge in their affect on us?

2. To make up for subjecting them to such a disgusting challenge, offer them the ice-cream (or other treat).
Watch their response when they eat it. Say: What’s the matter – it looked nice – you’ve eaten it before. Past experience has told you it’s terrific. What’s happened?

3. Say: Imagine you are the Devil. What would you do to try and trap mortals into being on your side. What traps would you set? What thinking would you inspire? What plans would to implement to destroy as many lives as you can? What practices would you make appealing to these mortals?
Compile a list on your whiteboard or blackboard. Take time with this exercise.

4. Talk about how movies are a big part of their world. Ask: What possible messages could they be giving us, which may corrode our interest in spiritual things or completely distract us with the wrong things. Talk about specific movies they have seen and discuss the plot. Ask: What are the underlying messages of these films. Talk about how every movie has a plot and a subplot. The plot tells the story, the subplot conveys a more hidden (and yet powerful) message. Create a list of movie titles and next to them, write the subplot (central message) of each. Once again, take time with this, and really encourage them to be discerning about the messages underlying each film. (Try a few cartoons – often this medium contains much of the ‘supernatural’.)

5. Ask: What does the Bible have to say about movies? Nothing? What does the Bible say about the things we dwell upon and think about? Spend some time searching in concordances and Bibles for texts which, by their principle, can encourage us to live a life doing what Christ would do. Ask the participants to write these texts in their Journals

6. Based on their Bible study, ask the participants to complete the table outlined in Appendix A. List the qualities of movies which should be present if we are to fulfil the counsel of texts such as Philippians 4:8, 9. Ask them then to enter in the names of the Movie trailers you are about to watch and rate them according to the criteria you have chosen.

7. Watch the Movie trailers one by one, allowing time after each one for the Pathfinders to complete their assessment of each one. Talk about their ratings with them, before moving on to the next one.

8. Debrief.

9. Close with prayer asking for discernment and the power from God to act on what we know to be right. 

Debrief

Leaders, be sure to follow up on discussing when and how the Pathfinders saw the memory text in action throughout this Pursuit. 
Select from the questions below:
Reflection

  • Which movie would you most like to watch?
  • Which had the best plot… the worst plot? What made the plot good or bad in your opinion?
  • Which movie was the most violent… sexually explicit… inappropriate in its language…

Interpretation

  • Do the things I watch, read and listen to on the radio have anything to do with my Christianity?
  • Why should it matter what we watch?
  • What about the argument: I should be able to do what I like!

(There is a way that seems right unto a man…)

  • What surprises you about this Pursuit?
  • What concerns you about this Pursuit?
  • On a scale of 1 – 10, how dangerous is it to view a movie without thinking about what the film is really saying about the world?
  • Why do you think current movies contain so much sexually explicit material? What is its purpose?
  • Do you think movies present an accurate portrayal of sexual behaviour and relationships? Why or why not?
  • Do you think Christians should view sexually explicit films? Why or why not? Would the age or maturity of the viewer change your answer?

Application

  • Is it important is it to ask: ‘Will this movie help me in my relationships (to God, my family, my friends)’ or What does this movie have to say about biblical norms for living?’ or are such questions too unrealistic and out of touch with reality? Explain your answer.
  • Define ‘integrity’ as it relates to this Pursuit.
  • Say something about determination, steadfastness, loyalty and honesty and how they relate to this Pursuit. (Consider these one at a time)
  • If I was to take Philippians 4: 8, 9 really seriously, what changes would there be in my life?
  • If I was to take Psalm 119:105 really seriously, what changes would there be in my life?

Commitment

  • The next time someone suggests watching a movie that I think is inappropriate, how will I respond?
    (Role play these situations so they get to know what it ‘feels’ like to be assertive in this way. Try to come up with appropriate responses they could use to say ‘No!’ to certain things and role play these. Ensure you practice what will really work for them.)

Appendix

Videos from your local video store, or downloaded from the Internet.
An excellent Web Address to aid with this Pursuit is www.hollywoodjesus.com. This site will arm you with information about the latest movie or video releases. For almost any current movie, you will get a studio synopsis, trailers, clips, an interpretation of the spiritual significance of the film, and a bulletin board of opinions. The site host has a definite point of view, which you may or may not agree with, but for familiarizing yourself with the movies your Pathfinders may be talking about without actually having to sit through them, this site is a real asset!

Appendix:

Media Critique Assessment 

Philippians 4:8,9
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.

Title of Movie
Plot

Subplot
Specific Values Explored
1. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy
2. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy
3. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy
4. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy
5. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy
6. True
Noble 
Right
Pure
Lovely
Admirable
Excellent
Praiseworthy