Youth Culture: Dick Staub & Ed WInkle (Audio on CD)

Well, welcome everybody. This is your friendly guide, Dick Staub. You know, Mark Twain once said of teenagers, “When a child turns 12 you should put him in a barrel, nail the lid down, feed him through a knothole, and when he turns 16 plug the hole.” Twain was-was referencing the challenge that we all face, both in being a teenager and in raising teenagers, and that is a challenge that has become more complicated in today’s culture. As a matter of fact, many parents who think they’re totally in touch with their kids are not. Walt Mueller writes a book in which he talks about your teen’s changing world and they’ve got a major research study, for instance, that showed this on the question: Have you had one or more alcoholic drinks? 66 percent of teenagers said yes, their parents, 34 percent thought their kids had. Have you considered suicide? 43 percent of teenagers said yes, 15 percent of parents thought that their child might have. Have you ever smoked? 41 percent of teens said es, 14 said they think they have. This is a-this is a very, very dicey subject and, of course, sex is one of the issues that parents are worried about with their kids. Listen to this: Do you tell your mom about boyfriends and sex? 36 percent of teenagers said they do, 80 percent of moms thought their kids were telling them everything about this subject. This was something we were warned about in an information age dominated by a new technology and popular culture. Marshal McLuen said the family circle has widened, the world pool of information fathered by electric media, media’s flight far surpasses any possible influence mom and dad can now bring to bear. Character no longer is shaped by only two earnest fumbling experts. Now all the world’s a sage. Man, he was good with words.

Q. We’re joined in this discussion about youth culture and how to parent kids in
youth culture by Ed Winkle, who actually works for us here on The Dick Staub Show, works with us, and also with the Center for Faith and Culture as our youth culture specialist. And Ed, it’s great to have you with us today.
A. And it’s great to be here.

Q. We-we wanted to start by talking about the whole concept of teenagers and
modern life for a teenager.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. Why did you want to start there and what’s some of what comes to mind
A. Well, I think it’s really interesting. I-I-I think, to me, one of the sort of the
benchmark events in the life I think of a lot of today’s modern teenagers and for their parents was the Columbine event. It was really¢â‚¬¦ I mean, we had a lot of high school shootings before, but never had we had something so catastrophic and so vile. And in the-in the months after that I-I did-I did a sort of an analysis, research analysis, looking at like the months preceding that event and seeing how many articles were written about adolescents and their parents

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œand that kind of thing. There was almost nothing. But in the few months
after that there was just an explosion of articles in newspapers, in magazines, talking about teenagers, you know. Why-why is this happening to them? What’s going on? You know, what is being short-circuited in their relationship with their parents? And-and it was an area that really touched me. I’d kind of experienced a lot of things and I think it was in reading a lot of that and maybe kind of formulating my own opinions, you really got to see that the way we kind of think of teenagers are fairly unique concepts to our culture in the last 50 years I would say.

Q. How so? How so? How do we have a different understanding of teenagers
than in previous generations?
A. Well, one thing that’s interesting is that in the past you never really¢â‚¬¦
Adolescence has been kind of something that sort of slowly evolved, the concept of adolescence. Before it was just kind of, you were a child and then you became a man.

Q. Yeah.
A. And you had rites of passage to get there. One thing I think that¢â‚¬¦ One thing
I found that’s really interesting is that mandatory high school was something that really hadn’t existed in America for most of our history. And it didn’t really happen until 1933. And the reason it happened was because of the Depression. We had all these kids working in jobs, and you had families who needed to be supported by men who could do the same jobs. So the kids were essentially kicked out and sent into high school.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so all of a sudden you had kids who had never thought about, oh, you
know, I need to learn, they’re in high school now. And a lot of them are going to go to college and all these different places which were things they’d never thought of. They were just going to work in the field.

Q. Yeah.
A. They were just going to do these things. And all of a sudden you had this new
kind of construct that’s entered in their lives. And so it’s just an interesting phenomena that way.

Q. So what we have is teenagers’ lives today is a whole new phenomena that
grows out of having time on our hands, technological advancements
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œchanges in our economy, and so forth, so that-so that kids are¢â‚¬¦ You know,
we had a conversation with Fredericka Matthewes-Green recently about what the concept of a teenager or an adolescent is. And she said they’re supposed to be adults in training.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. They’re supposed to be in preparation for something, whereas now we view
it as kind of a holding pattern. Kind of floating and kind of whatever.
A. And I think a thing you commonly hear, too, is that, you know, high school is
the best time of your life. You’ve got to enjoy it.

Q. Yeah.
A. And so you’re in this sort of bubble. And I think it’s interesting, too, you talk
about the advances in our society. And I think it’s no-it’s not incidental then that the first time we ever actually have the word teenager in print, ever, is in the mid-¢â‚¬Ëœ40s when all those things are convening.

Q. Really.
A. It never really existed, that term before. We don’t have it anywhere.

Q. That’s interesting because you look at terms like GenX and so forth, and
they’re really transitory.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. I mean, it was a word that lasted for a few years and then we moved on.
A. Totally.

Q. Teenager has remained part of our vocabulary.
A. Absolutely.

Q. That’s interesting.
A. Yeah.

Q. So how do you explain that?
A. Well, I think-I think there’s another element here, and I think that you look at
what happened to America sort of after the war and all is tired, you know, you hear a lot about the baby boom right?

Q. Yeah.
A. And those essentially were the first real teenagers in a lot of ways.

Q. Yes.
A. Just that whole era. And I think another interesting thing to add to that, too, is
that it’s during this period that it is the first time we come up with kind of the teen hoodlum, which has become a huge phenomena in the late ¢â‚¬Ëœ50s.

Q. Yes.
A. And I know there’s a lot of documentary photography being done about this.
And we also see the first time we ever have a teen movie that’s really popular, Rebel Without a Cause

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œwhich is about the rebellion of adolescence, and he’s alienated and he feels
all these things.

Q. So-so we’re beginning to see spill into what we’re going to talk about next.
But the whole media in teen culture is, if you have a new cultural phenomena called a teenager, somebody’s going to write the script for what that is, what that means, and Hollywood’s contribution has been kind of tilted towards the rebellious side, kind of towards having your own identity, kind of towards pushing your parents out of the picture and all that kind of stuff.
A. Yeah. And it’s so interesting to me to kind of look at that now and kind of see
how that’s sort of migrated and how it’s still there, that pressure just to rebel against your parents. You know, get away from them. Not become, you know, like them. You don’t want to be like your parents, you know. I think Levi’s was one of the first ones that spearheaded the jeans. You know, jeans as signifying you’re different from your parents now.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I think, you know, we had a lot of dangerous elements all kind of boiling
together that really collided in the ¢â‚¬Ëœ60s. That was one of the huge parts was kids of well-to-do parents rebelling against them.

Q. Yes.
A. You know, I want to be a hippie.

Q. Yes.
A. I’m going to be everything you’re not.

Q. Yeah.
A. And this is your war, it’s not my war.

Q. Yes.
A. This is your thing.

A. So you see these things just kind of hitting each other all the way through.

Q. Well, interestingly enough then, those became the parents of the Columbine
A. Exactly.

Q. I mean, boomers became the parents that produced this new generation of
teenagers. What have you been thinking about the-the impact of the-the ¢â‚¬Ëœ60s generation growing up and becoming parents and how that’s shaping what it means to be a teenager today?
A. Well, I think one of the biggest parts of it is I think, to me, one thing I see
and this is one of the main elements of Generation X–was cynicism. I think it was one of the biggest elements that came out.

Q. Yeah.
A. And this is another thing that really struck me as being very interesting. One
thing I really started to notice, and you notice this in probably the book that typifies this most, and we had an interview the other day talking about this. It was Catcher in the Rye

Q. Yes.
A. –which totally epitomized sort of the alienated youth who is cynical, and that
cynical is a way to be now. And-and to me, it’s almost like the parents are saying, Now, we’ll give you all this stuff, we’ll be your friend, and all these different things, but go off and do your own thing. And then as the kid’s being unsatisfied with that, you know, feeling kind of terrible about that, not really feeling satisfied that, you know, why do I feel so unsatisfied? There’s got to be something else.

. Yeah.
A. And that really¢â‚¬¦ Well, maybe my parents are wrong. Maybe they’re not
telling me things that are true. Maybe they’re not doing these things. And so they’re creating this sort of system where you just, you-you’re almost made to disbelieve the people that are telling you what’s supposed to be the truth.

Q. Well, it really grows out of the philosophical construct of nihilism, a kind of
meaninglessness, kind of this jaded attitude. And-and we see that kind of communicated in popular culture in a lot of ways. And, of course, there was this book from Nietzsche to nihilism which was, the title of the book had to do with Seinfeld, which is a show that kind of absolutely reflects this total cynical, whatever attitude about life and down to the kind of meaninglessness of our individual lives in daily life. And it totally connected to a whole generation. Now you got to ask yourself why? And the reason is because Seinfeld captured the Zeitgeist. He-he captured the spirit of the age, reflected it back to a generation that thought that was just cool.
Well, we’re going to be back with more. We’re talking about youth
culture with Ed Winkle. He is at the Center for Faith and Culture, youth culture specialist. You can find out more information about CFC by going to We’ll be right back.

“A typical American teenager will process over 3,000 discreet advertisements in a single day, and 10 million by the time they’re 18.”
Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re talking about youth culture today, and eventually we’re going to get to parenting in today’s youth culture. But before we talk about that, we need to understand more about what’s going on in this youth culture.
Q. We’re joined by my good friend, Ed Winkle, who is the youth specialist at
Center for Faith and Culture. And when we talk about the media and teen culture, I mean, this is a radicalizing influence in this generation.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. It’s a-it is a totally different phenomena than, you know, me back in the’50s listening to the first Elvis album. It grows out of that, but it’s gone way beyond that.
A. Uh-huh.

Talk about the media and how it relates to teen culture and how it has shaped what teen culture has become.
A. Well, I think the first thing that we need to think about when we think
about these teens is that the media, the way they view them is as consumers, ultimately. They consider them as a market, this is something that we’re going to sell to.

Q. Yes.
A. And I think the place that that comes out of¢â‚¬¦ I was watching a film the other
day, it’s kind of obscure. It was called Tokyo Story, and it was about the modernizing of Japan. And they had a really interesting scene in it that totally, to me, totally sort of typified what was going on in sort of our youth culture now. And the two parents were going to go to a department store and they were going-they were going there basically not really to buy anything, but just to do something.

Q. Yes.
A. And one of the reasons they were going there is because the youngest child in
the family loved the kids’ meals that they had at the department store.

Q. Yes.
A. And that, to me, is youth culture. That is what the media does. And the point
is, we’re creating things that kids like, and then we’re causing their parents, then, to affect their own personal choices and their lifestyle choices as a result of what the kids want, essentially.

Q. Yeah.
A. And it comes out of the outgrowth. It’s not an end to itself. Media¢â‚¬¦ The
point is, is that media or teen culture, and the way the media approaches them, doesn’t exist without their parents. And that’s the point is that most of these kids, a lot of them aren’t old enough to work so they can’t get money to buy anything. So I guess what I’m saying is, is that you’ve got this sort of odd area where really it’s an outgrowth of adult culture. I think that’s the most important thing to say about it. So they have a surplus of money and that money is coming from their parents.

Q. Absolutely. And yet what’s interesting is all of these companies that are
marketing to teenagers, almost without exception, want to create an isolated tribe
A. Yes.

Q. ¢€œfrom their parents. In other words, parents are the facilitators almost. To use
psychological terms, they’re the co-dependents.
A. Absolutely.

Q. So they’ve got the loot.
A. Yeah.

Q. But the teenager is getting the loot from somebody who either doesn’t even
know what it’s being spent on
A. Uh-huh.

Q. ¢€œor totally disagrees with it but because they think it’s loving to their kid,
gives them the money anyway.
A. To me it’s the equivalent of, you know, a kid walking down a street and a
stranger drives up and says, Hey, little boy, I’ll give you some candy if you get inside my car.

Q. Yeah.
A. That is really what it is. You don’t, I mean¢â‚¬¦ We don’t know who these people are who are telling these kids these messages.

Q. Yeah.
A. We don’t know what they’re doing. They’re giving our kids candy, though. They’re giving them this pleasurable item if they’ll come in and sort of¢â‚¬¦

Q. Now, when we look at youth culture then marketized, it’s a highly marketized culture.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. You know, art-art was for enjoyment or communication of ideas. Folk art communicated values, popular culture communicates a purchase.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. It’s an opportunity to buy something. It’s driven by commercialism, which I mentioned to some parents the other day who were thinking, oh, we just need to stop it. I said, there is no way to stop. This is a multi-billion dollar industry. You know, they have identified a way to get to our kids and get our money and-and they’re not going to, you know, they’re not going to lay down easily. I use the phrase tribal, because what has happened really, interestingly enough, is there’s almost a narrowcasting happening within teen culture. There’s something for everybody but it’s differentiated from-from other tribes.
A. Yeah.

Q. So we have a lot of different styles, each of them have their own dial on the radio, each of them has their own little tribal group of teenagers, and each of them has their own kind of nuances. Talk about that kind of segmentation within teens.
A. Yeah. I think that it’s really important you’re talking about this because what we’re doing first is we’re selling teens a lifestyle first, and then everything else follows after the lifestyle. The lifestyle is the most important part, as is lifestyle for many of us who live, you know, now days. So for instance, and I-I was reading a really interesting article the other day about Adidas and how they were marketing shoes. And the way they had delineated their purchaser, you know, people who are going to buy their stuff. And they basically had broken it down to two types of white males. One was one who didn’t think other kids were cool but liked to play sports.

Q. Yes.
A. The other one was who liked to hook up and still drink and get with girls.

Q. Yes.
A. Okay. So the other one was the African-American aficionado, the one who wanted to buy the correct footwear.

Q. Yeah.
A. Then they had broken up the girls into different groups. One was the girl who
searches all over the mall for Sketchers.

Q. Yes.
A. You know what I mean? Just these cheap little shoes.

Q. Yeah.
A. The other one was they called the A Diva. She likes Sex in the City and
working out, is how they described her.

Q. Yes. Yeah, exactly.
A. And so we’ve split all these people up.

Q. You know what’s¢â‚¬¦ Go ahead.
A. No, no.

Q. Because what’s happening now, you just also eluded to another thing. We’ve
talked about marketizing, we’ve talk about tribalism. Now, here’s the genius of the billion-dollar corporations looking for this billion-dollar market. The pinball machine, the interrelatedness. You just made reference to a shoe, to a TV commercial, you’ll see it in the movie and product placement, you’ll find it within the body of a song. In other words, this is an integrated, systemic package so that when Doug Rushkoff, who we played earlier, talks about the number of messages a kid is processing, these kids are overwhelmed with data that is in what-what-what some people refer to as the datasphere.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. And it’s all coming at these kids. It’s-it’s hugely influential in their lives.
A. And the two most important parts about it is, a) it’s enveloping. It totally envelopes you. But also, b) the thing that we were obviously talking about is it doesn’t include parents. Parents are completely excluded from that picture.

Q. Yeah, absolutely. We are your parents, the media is saying.
A. We are your parents. They are trying to raise you. And I think the most
important part parents need to know about this is that youth culture and media, the way it is for kids now days, is designed to usurp their parents. If there’s anything I can drive home to parents now days, it is designed to bypass you. You are not part of this equation and we’re making sure of it. And that’s going to be reflected in every single thing that we show these kids, essentially.

Q. Yes.
A. And actually, this is real interesting. Nickelodeon did some research a few
years back, because they have been absolutely the prime perpetrator of showing parents away from their kids.

A. And they researched the kids’ attitude towards their parents. And one of the
things they found is that kids actually really, when it came down to it, didn’t actually like seeing their parents portrayed as dumb, bumbling idiots.

Q. Yeah.
A. They actually wanted to be with their parents. They didn’t mind going to do simple things with them, they just wanted to be with them.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. And that’s the weird paradox that’s going on here, is that you’ve got this one force driving kids away from their parents, but on the flip side, the reality is that kids need their parents.

Q. Now, are kids today conformists or non-conformists?
A. Well, I think¢â‚¬¦

Q. Because they like to position themselves as, you know, I’m about me, I’m about my thing.
A. Yeah.

Q. But this is the most conformist culture. For me as an outsider, you know, I never watched American Idol before. Now I watched it this week for the first time. And I’m seeing, oh, there’s Britney Spears, oh, there’s so and¢â‚¬¦ I mean, they’re all imitative. What’s going on with that?
A. Well it’s, you know, be different like everybody else. You know, that’s kind
of what it’s about. I think that, you know, the sad thing about it is that and I really think this is really true money is the real catalyst for a lot of this stuff. One thing I was noticing recently, there’s been a shift in advertising. In the last few years there was a huge emphasis put on changing your identity by money. You know, if you have money you can change your identity and be somebody that you don’t want to be anymore.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I notice they’ve kind of backed off a little bit of this as the economy has gone down. But I think there’s a really interesting point about this. If you’ve ever read Great Expectations, or even in this other film, Tokyo Story, they kind of hit on this point, too. And that was that with modernity you’re moving away from your sort of prehistoric past and you’re moving into something else.

Q. Yes.
A. But you’re made to feel totally embarrassed about that pass. You’re not supposed to feel, you know, proud of the fact that you want these just basic things that most humans do.

Q. Yes.
A. You’re made to feel that if you don’t want to be like Britney Spears, if you don’t want to be like these people, there’s something wrong with you, essentially.

Q. Yes, yeah.
A. And that, you know, just wanting to be a normal person doesn’t work anymore.

Q. Yeah.
A. I mean, being normal is not good enough.

Q. So-so when-when Tom Bedoin talks about being born in the amniotic fluid of popular culture, there’s a birthing that grows out of this and then there’s this tremendous influence that is part of the kid’s life. And as we mentioned earlier, sadly is more a part of the kid’s life than the parents’, because the popular culture goes with them everywhere they go. It’s with them at school, it’s with them on the weekend, it’s with them Friday night. And mom and dad are only with them so many hours a week.
We’re going to be back with more. We’re talking about youth culture.
And our guest is, as I’ve mentioned earlier, Mr. Ed Winkle who is the youth specialist at Center for Faith and Culture. You can go to and get more information about Center for Faith and Culture. We’ll be right back. Don’t go away.

(Break.)Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re talking about youth culture with Ed Winkle, who is the youth specialist at the Center for Faith and Culture. And Ed is, I consider, just extraordinarily savvy as it relates to both faith and culture which, to be quite honest, is a rare combination these days. Because we have a generation of kids and I’m speaking now to those of you that come out of a Christian faith commitment we have a generation of kids that are far more culturally literate than they are biblically literate or faith literate. They know their culture even without knowing that they know their culture, but they’re really fairly defenseless when it comes to facing the onslaught of this culture because they’re not that rooted in their own biblical tradition which, interestingly enough again, social scientists told us this was going to happen with the media. It was going to cut us off from our history, from our roots, from our traditions, and put something new in its place.

Q. Now, when we think about teenagers today and, you know, throughout history, that age of adolescence has been when you’re making physical changes, you’re making social changes, intellectual changes, emotional and every other way, and today’s teen world is a violent world. It is a world that has been shaped by family upheaval, broken homes. Sexual morality is-is totally different than it’s been in previous generations, substance abuse is a major part of this generation, depression, suicide, an intellectual construct that’s relativistic that leads to a moral relativism. How much of that is loaded in through the popular culture? And I realize that’s a generalization because within the popular culture there’s still some wonderful things being created.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. But there’s a lot of stuff that is-it’s like a pipeline to the sewer that is just driven into the hearts and minds of kids who, on the surface of it seem like just everyday normal good kids and many of them are.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. What’s going on with the content of today’s popular culture at kids?
A. Well, I think one of the interesting things is something we’ve discussed
before, is that a lot of times a lot of these really vile things we think are really terrible in media are actually in the Bible which, I think, is something very interesting.

Q. Yeah, interesting. Evil depicted.
A. Yeah. But the interesting thing about them is that the evil has a lot of meaning. There’s a very specific purpose for why things are happening and there’s specific results that happen out of it. And this may sound very-somewhat theoretical, but just bear with this example for a second. Okay, in our kind of world now we’ve got–it’s very daunted by symbols. There’s symbols for everything. For instance, Ford, when you see the symbol Ford, what do you think of first thing?

Q. Yeah, absolutely.
A. Cars. You think of SUV, you think of Explorer, you think of all these different things.

Q. Yeah.
A. But really when Ford really came, what it really originally symbolized, it just meant a car. Now you can get this image of a Taurus, you have this image from an Explorer, all these different things. And if you can think about it, our world is full of these symbols, but in a lot of ways they’ve been cut off from their original meanings. For instance, like I think a great example of this would be like a model home. If you go to a model home you think of having a good family life.

Q. Yeah.
A. But the reality is, having a great looking home doesn’t insure a family life.

A. But we’re equating these two things. So if we take the-if we take it-if we take all these symbols and put them in like a big circle, okay, so we have all these things that essentially don’t mean anything. They’re symbolic, but they’re meanings to themselves.

Q. Yes.
A. So the violence only means violence, it doesn’t have the meaning that, for instance, the Bible puts on it.

Q. Yes.
A. And you say to a kid, all right now, we’re going to throw all these ideas at you that are untethered, that don’t have that just essentially don’t mean anything for what they look like and what they are

Q. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah.
A. ¢€œjust their very visceral meaning. Well, we want you to eat this every day, we want you to sleep in this, we want you to think about this all the time

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œwe want this to consume your thoughts, we want you to basically

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œthis to dominate you. And what happens, I think people can understand this. It’s the equivalent of having a diet just essentially of Doritos. If you eat Doritos everyday for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, would you be sick?

Q. Yeah.
A. You’d be very sick.

Q. Yes.
A. And that’s what’s happening to kids. They’re eating this all the time and we’re having these, basically these toxins that are rising up in them.

Q. Now, here’s an interesting thing, but so many interesting things. One, obviously the cross represents a symbol that has been gutted
A. Totally.

Q. ¢€œof its meaning. So you see the cross regularly in these very profane settings and you have kids saying, Hey, I think that’s a Christian because they’re wearing a cross. So that’s another example of symbols. But here’s something that’s interesting. You are speaking like a canary in the-in the coal mine
A. Uh-huh.

Q. ¢€œthat’s gasping for breath because you were raised in this culture.
A. Absolutely.

Q. And-and I’ve been talking lately about the different theological themes that feed our connection to culture, and one of them is creation. We are humans and we, therefore, create art and respond to art. But at the same time, as a Christian, we’re exiles and we’re aliens and we feel a dissonance between the culture and ourselves. So on the one hand we feel resonant with the culture, on the other hand we feel dissonant. How do you work that through
A. Yeah.

Q. ¢€œas a young person when you’re swimming in this culture that is feeding you Doritos and yet you have a faith that tells you you can have this abundant life, Jesus is the bread of life, something rich and substantial and deep and renewing and nurturing?
A. Well, I think the only way I can really talk about this is tell a little of my personal story. I grew up in a Christian home. My parents in a lot of ways were very¢â‚¬¦ I wasn’t allowed to see rated R movies, they were very¢â‚¬¦ They kept me very kind of cloistered from a lot of these elements.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I stayed away from them. But I guess as I got older I felt somewhat uncool, like there’s something wrong with me, I don’t feel like I’m like these other kids.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. So at a certain point I said, you know what? I’m going to-I just want to be cooler and I want to immerse myself in this stuff. And I did. And it was really amazing for me to kind of look back at my journey and realize the profound changes and effects that it had on me. I went from a person that was fairly bright, I mean, to a point that I watched TV all the time, I did all this stuff. I remember when I got into music. I think music was probably the most profound. I got-when I got into music I got very depressed and sort of down on myself and very kind of isolated.

Q. Yeah.
A. Now, there was other elements that were happening to me in my life. But the thing that I think people need to realize is, like an addiction, one of the things we talk about is you can’t-you can’t stop-you can’t keep feeding the addiction, you’ve got to stop it at a certain point. And when you’re depressed and you listen to depressed music, it feeds the depression.

Q. Yeah.
A. So we’re feeding all these different things. And so when I eventually came out of it, it was-that kind of gave me the inspiration to kind of figure out what had happened to me. I didn’t really understand a lot of it.

Q. Yeah.
A. And it was great. And if anything, popular culture kind of helped me get out of it at the same time, but in a weird way.

Q. Yeah.

A. I was listening to a band, Radiohead, really helped me kind of maybe understand my life a little bit

Q. Yes.
A. ¢€œbecause I really started analyzing their music

Q. Yeah.
A. ¢€œand I realized, hey, there’s a lot of other stuff that was really messed up about what I’m doing right now. This doesn’t make any sense.

Q. Actually, there’s a weird thing happening in popular culture because popular culture itself, a lot of it now, is loaded with messages that what we’re doing is meaningless.
A. Yeah, totally.

Q. You know, so it’s like the Bart Simpson quote that we read the other day, “Unless you watch the violence, you won’t become desensitized.”
A. Yeah, totally, totally.

Q. In other words, it’s like there’s this attitude, I’ve got to consume a lot of it so I can be inoculated and get out of it.
A. Uh-huh, absolutely. Well to me, the flagship for that, too, is The Matrix, which is done¢â‚¬¦ I know as somebody who’s really a-watches a lot of media and really studies it, that movie is breaking new ground. We’re-we’re getting new information about what’s happening through that film.

Q. Yeah.
A. It’s not just entertainment medium. This thing is carrying incredible messages for all of society that people need to hear.

Q. Yeah.
A. And I think¢â‚¬¦ I mean, a lot of what we’re talking about here is essentially the same thing the movie is talking about, but that’s a great example of one.

Q. Yeah, totally, totally. When we-when we start turning the corner¢â‚¬¦ Well, first of all, backing up to-to the impact that violence and sexual¢â‚¬¦
A. Yeah.

Q. There are a lot of kids that are saying this isn’t affecting them.
A. Yeah.

Q. You know, I-I just totally clue it out. I tune it out. Games. We haven’t even talked about games.
A. Yeah.

Q. Games–you may not know this folks–generated more revenue last year than Hollywood.
A. Yeah, absolutely.

Q. Games are bigger than film. So when we look at games, the very nature of most games has some level of violence and killing and being killed.
A. And I would even add one other part to that. I was listening to a radio show the other day, and their motto was, your healthy radio addiction. A lot of these things are essentially being called healthy addictions. They are addictions.

Q. Yeah.
A. The way games are-the way games are designed now days, the levels go they’re endless. They go on forever.

Q. Yeah.
A. And they’re meant to just take up time.

Q. Yes.
A. They’re meant to be-to suck all your time and that’s it.

Q. It’s a 24/7 reality game online means that you could spend the rest of your life in another world/parallel universe while sitting in the room one door away from your own kids and your own spouse. We are really¢â‚¬¦ Technology is redefining what it means to be human.
A. Uh-huh, absolutely. The-the scariest part about it for me is that it is redefining but then we’re living vicariously through other people. We’ve almost stopped living our lives in a lot of these situations. And that is definitely true with kids.
We’re going to be back now in just a moment and talk about parenting kids in today’s popular culture, which is probably the most challenging of everything we’ve talked about so far because, if you’ve followed what we’ve said, you recognize that, Houston, we’ve got a problem. And we’ve got an industry that is intentionally cordoning our kids off from us. We’ve got surveys showing that we don’t really know what’s going on in our kids’ lives even if we think we do, and yet we’re called to be parents in that environment. We’ll talk more about that right after this. Don’t go away.


Well, this is Dick Staub back with you. We’re talking with Ed Winkle from the Center for Faith and Culture. Some-some-most of you know that, in addition to the radio show, I started a non-profit called the Center for Faith and Culture a few years ago to try to help Christians understand and communicate faith in the context of popular culture. And we’ve more and more realized that in addition to bridging from culture to faith we need to be critics of this culture as well, because there is danger, there’s a point at which what we need is protection from this culture as we live out our faith in this culture. And it’s a task that has been entrusted to parents as it relates to raising our kids.
Q. When you start thinking about advice that you would give a parent in raising a
kid in today’s youth culture, particularly given the fact that the whole business of youth culture is trying to cordon the parent off and keep them out of it, what would you say?
A. Well, I mean, obviously your parents don’t need to be-I mean, they don’t need
to hear this again, but kids are really getting hammered. I mean, and I think a lot of the outlet of this is drug addiction, all kinds ofdifferent types of, you know, severing relationships with their peers, all¢â‚¬¦ I mean, the implications of it are just dramatic. And honestly, I-as somebody who’s kind of gone through it myself, I honestly can say my life was essentially saved by my mom’s prayer. And I think that was probably the most important thing. Parents really, I mean, if you’re not-I mean, obviously, I assume all of them are doing it but I cannot tell you how underestimated praying for your kids is. It’s just amazing. It is¢â‚¬¦ And to me it is the one element that can break all of this stuff. It is the most important thing you can do for your kids.

Q. Well, we haven’t really talked about it but there’s spiritual warfare going on here.
A. There absolutely is.

Q. I mean, when you talk about the darkness that is being pumped into kids’ lives
and you talk about many of the people who produce this stuff either as artists or the people in Hollywood that are producing it, their lives are representative of the ultimate fallenness of all human beings. Now, you and I are Christians, we understand we still are fallen and we operate in a fallen world, so we’re not saying, you know, we are without sin, you know? But we are saying that these are people who have not only sinned and are operating in fallenness, they have embraced it, they have packaged it, they worship it. It is their god. And-and-and the dollar and the commercialism and the materialism that drives it¢â‚¬¦ Jesus said you can’t serve two masters, you can’t serve God and money. So there’s-there’s definitely a warfare going on here. And starting with prayer is the absolute place to start, because it brings us that spiritual power and that spiritual weaponry even when we’re not with our kids. What else would you say?
A. Well, I would say another important thing, and I think we’re kind of describing a lot of this here, is that I think it’s really important now for parents to really to start to tie together their faith and the way they consume media themselves. And I think that’s really important. And I-and I think that will travel down to the kids. I think that’s-the implications of that are actually, in my opinion, quite profound, if you can tie those two together.
Q. Absolutely. Well, let me add in there the Aristotelian formula of persuasion is you have to have ethos which means–you have to have pathos, which means passion.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. You got to love your kid. You have to have ethos, which is integrity.
A. Yeah.

Q. You have to have logos, which is reason. In other words as parents, we need to have thought through our own relationship with popular culture, we have to live it out with integrity in our own life, and we have to love our kids enough to try to teach them what we’ve learned. This is not a thing you can send your kid off to a workshop or send them off to Dr. Dobson or send them off to the Center for Faith and Culture, anybody else. You have to be the front line in what’s going to happen with your kid.
A. Yeah. And I think the next part totally ties into it. I think these next two are somewhat interchangeable. Media management is really important and I think parents it’s getting to the point now where you-we need to be going into e-mail, we need to be checking histories on computers, we need to be looking at what they’re watching on TV, we need to be seeing-seeing what’s coming at them. Because I know, I mean, just from my perspective in talking to my peers, one of the sort of underbelly stories of sort of what’s happened here is pornography’s effect on young men is just devastating right now.

Q. Yeah, yeah.
A. And honestly, I would-I would-I would absolutely say this. In every single high school shooting there was a huge element of pornography in there.

Q. Yeah, yeah
A. And it causes a lot of depression, it causes a lot of elements, so parents we
need¢â‚¬¦ I mean, one of the first things we do, we need to be helping manage the kids’ consumption of media in the home.

Q. Yes.
A. But the thing is, you can’t just take it away from them. That’s not the point.

Q. Yeah.
A. Parents need to be spending more time with their kids as a result. You can’t leave a vacuum there and just say, no time with media, and then go do something else.

Q. Josh McDowell has a phrase that says, “Rules without relationship equals rebellion.” And if you think that the solution here is to lay down the law and not be a very active part of your kid’s life, you’re absolutely setting yourself up for failure here. And by the way, I’m a parent. And my kids are going to listen to this. And they’re going to say, wow. If dad knows all this stuff, why doesn’t he do a better job of it? Because all of us, as parents, even if we’re working at it, have got a long ways to go on this. What else would you say, Ed?
A. Well honestly, I think there are going to be a lot of points for parents where these-these things are going to seem very hopeless. Because I know I think at times my parents felt that way about me. And I think, lastly, I would say don’t give up hope if your kid is struggling or if there’s things going on.

Q. Yeah.
A. You cannot give up hope. The-the thing that’s so important is-is really is the
only thing in a lot of these situations is prayer. And I really mean that. It’s like the one element that will break through all other aspects of this.

Q. What about the importance of understanding youth culture itself? You know, Walt Mueller and I agree on this and Walt has really influenced my thinking on this. Walt really says if your kid really is into Eminem then tell them, okay, let’s sit down and listen to it. Parents, they’re-they’re a connection to youth culture and the artifacts of youth culture because something is connecting to them there, so that-that the lead singer of Mercy Me said I 100 percent disagree with Eminem, but the guy’s got an extraordinary talent.
A. Yeah.

Q. Okay. I have a friend of mine who’s a drummer with Christian groups in Nashville. He was out here at Christmas and he said he hadn’t really listened to Eminem, he said, so I decided I needed to. And he said on the way out here I popped in an Eminem CD. He said in 30 seconds I understood why this guy connects to kids. He understands their alienation, he understands their loneliness, and he’s connecting. Now this folks: Parents, we have to, instead of just saying, kids, don’t feel alienated, don’t feel hopeless, we have to understand they do feel this. And Walt says, sit down and listen to this stuff with your kid, and you’ll both understand your kid better. You’ll have a window to their world, but you can also then start getting in conversations, this relationship thing.
A. Uh-huh.

Q. Well, why do you feel that way? What am I doing as a parent that¢â‚¬¦ We have to not accept the idea that we can be locked out of the equation. We have to enter that world, but it’s out of love, not out of hatred or anger or laying down the law with our kids although I think, you know, God has given us authority. God’s most basic command to us as parents is to not provoke our children to wrath. I violate that just about everyday. But I’m lucky enough to have kids that let me know when I do, you know, and give me a chance to come downstairs and talk about it and-and work it through. You know, Deuteronomy says that-that we learn God’s law when we lay down, we rise up, when we walk throughout the day, not a seminar. This is a day-in/day-out, minute by minute deal that we do as parents. It’s driving your kid to school in the morning, praying with them on the way to school. It’s sitting down with them at noontime or when you’re, you know, on the weekend and you’re driving through the drive-thru. It’s when you’re hearing one of their songs and you’re saying, whoa, what’s that? And finding out. This is active, engaging stuff, and it starts with our own rootedness in faith. Anything else you want to add?
A. Well, I, and honestly I would actually like the last part of this like to talk to the kids out there. And I think the most important thing I think kids need to know is that as-as a, you know, a young person growing up in America, we’re feeling real emotions. And we’re feeling real things, but these things are getting harnessed by people who are essentially selling them back to us.

Q. Yeah.
A. And it’s so frustrating because it will almost prevent you from ever actually being something genuine, you’re always just sort of in this feedback loop over and over again–

Q. Yeah.
A. –that you can never escape from. And it’s like a curse, you’re being totally-a spell is being cast on you. And the thing I would like to say, you know, just like X-Files, the truth is out there. And I think we’re getting to an amazing place where kids are going to start realizing the implications of these things and we can start to go beyond the matrix, if you want to call it that.

Well, and interestingly enough, we already are. We’re seeing a decline in sexual activity of teenagers because they’ve basically been there/done that and said, hey, we were lied to, you know? I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be there.
Folks, this has been most interesting. We’ve only scratched the surface. Our guest has been Ed Winkle, who works here with me on The Dick Staub Show, and also is the youth culture specialist at the Center for Faith and Culture. For more information go to And it occurs to me that¢â‚¬¦ And you can register, by the way, and get updates about what we’re doing. It occurs to me you may not be aware that any interview like this that you hear on The Dick Staub Show you can order in CD or cassette if you want to listen to it again. Just go to, and go to Contact Us, and there’s a section there where you can find out how to do that. Thank you so much, Ed. We’re going to be back with more right after this. Folks, don’t go away.

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