Tag: culture

Can we even have conversations, in a contentious election year? – 5/14/23

Can we even have conversations, in a contentious election year? – 5/14/23

 “Don’t talk about Religion or Politics” …. so they say. 

But our guest on this Family Life News Feature says our faith can help us talk about tough topics — at work, with friends, and even in our families and congregations.


Focus on the Family counselor Joanie DeBrito offers advice for people who have strong opinions, but might feel afraid to raise an argument on political or social Hot Topics. She says it takes wisdom, humility and self-control. Also, Christians (and others) need to be discerning. With some people who don’t listen well and have no motivation to remain civil, it often is wise to decline to discuss elections and candidates. However, Dr. DeBrito says politics does not have to stay “off the table” if you and the other person are open to listening respectfully, being fair, and being both firm in your convictions and willing to learn something new.

How to have good conversations, even in a contentious election year and a divisive culture … today on this Family Life News podcast.


Dr. Joanie DeBrito is a coach at Hope Restored Aftercare and a columnist and consultant with Focus on the Family.  She has 30+ years experience as a therapist and counselor.

Here are links to her work at Hope Restored and Focus.

Some of her columns and blogs about marriage, parenting and family matters can be found here and here.



Choices toward planning for college – 2/15/24

Choices toward planning for college – 2/15/24

This is the time of year when many college-bound students are finalizing applications for which school they intend to go to in the fall.

Also at issue: how to pay for higher education, whether that is for incoming first-year students or those who are already at a college or university.

For advice on the decision-making processes, we sought the perspective of President Wayne Lewis of Houghton University in Houghton, New York. In this Family Life Interview, you will hear:

  • How the federal delays in this year’s one-application for financial aid computations (the online FAFSA form) has affected students, families and the schools — and best “next steps to take”
  • Timelines for applying to your preferred school(s), when financial aid determinations are made, and when someone can change their mind about which college to attend
  • How current students are great resources for sorting out where a new student can attend a place which fits them — whether they are liberal or conservative or moderate, whether they are Christian or not
  • The difference being colleges which teach their students “to think” versus places which teach students “what to think”

Super Bowl Sunday – A Faith-Based Vantage Point – Paul Asay – 2/09/24

Super Bowl Sunday – A Faith-Based Vantage Point – Paul Asay – 2/09/24

With 70 percent of American TV households plugged in, the Super Bowl draws millions of eyeballs, adjusts peoples social schedules, and dominates public discussion throughout an early February weekend. It consistently is #1-watched TV show of the year. (Plus all that doesn’t even include the people who listen on the radio, watch through streaming, or just look up the Super Bowl ads on the internet!)

Family Life News talked with movie & television reviewer Paul Asay about how the Super Bowl broadcast has become such a huge event. We especially wanted a faith-based angle on the hype, from this editor of the Christian media site Plugged In.

Paul Asay gives his take on how massive the Super Bowl has become, including its role as one of the few broadcasts which remind us of a “monolithic culture…where people would all watch the same sitcoms and same adventure shows.” There are lessons from the Big Game weekend for Christian individuals and households, as well as for churches.

Another Family Life Interview about the Super Bowl, its commercials, and its hype aired Thursday (February 7).  Hear commentary from Robert Thompson, the well-respected Television & Culture professor at Syracuse University. That conversation is available separately on the Family Life news podcasts page.

Making Sense of the Super Bowl Hype – Robert Thompson – 2/08/24

Making Sense of the Super Bowl Hype – Robert Thompson – 2/08/24

It annually is the biggest American television program of the year.  (Not even counting the global audience.)

It’s commercials are anticipated, reviewed, over-analyzed, and cost $7,000,000 for 30 seconds.

Even even non-football-fans get drawn into the hype.

Businesses and churches and groups adjust their schedules to avoid conflicting with one of the nation’s hugest non-holiday holidays.

The Super Bowl has come to have a massive influence on American society. For perspectives on how the game became so big, Family Life’s Greg Gillispie talks with Robert Thompson, an expert of television and its effects on culture. Among the topics:

  • How the calendar and the NFL’s creativity have moved Super Bowl Sunday to such a national festival day
  • What is it that makes Super Bowl commercials such a topic of conversation
  • Why those advertisers see enough value to make it worth paying so much to buy the ad slot and produce a “film-festival-worthy” commercial
  • How the Super Bowl has become one of the few “shared experiences” Americans have, in our fractured media landscape


Robert Thompson is director of the Bleier Center for Television and Popular Culture at Syracuse University.  He teaches courses on the impact of media and has written five books and edited an ongoing series about television and society.



Also from Family Life’s News Podcasts:  Paul Asay of “Plugged In” offers his insights on Super Bowls — including a Christian angle on the widespread popularity of the Super Bowl as a national event, how we need a few shared experiences across a wide swath of the culture, and how Christian messages like “HeGetsUs” can share the Gospel with millions in a single broadcast. Listen for that additional interview here.

Issues in Education – 2/05/24

Issues in Education – 2/05/24

Feds have delayed FAFSA forms, for college-bound students

Paying parents to get their children to go to school

Changing Columbus Day and Veterans Day on some schools’ calendars


Education consultant Dr. Ralph Kerr discusses the weighty issues in education.  He’s founder and president of the Teaching and Learning Institute which exists to get Christians involved in their local public schools.

Christian Culture, Pop Culture, and navigating the world where Taylor Swift is “everywhere” – 1/29/24

Christian Culture, Pop Culture, and navigating the world where Taylor Swift is “everywhere” – 1/29/24


Keeping Pop Culture in check,

Spiritual truths, amid Taylor Swift’s popularity,

And helping children and teens to prioritize their faith, even using lessons from celebrities.

We have an exclusive interview with Paul Asay of the PLUGGED IN entertainment reviews, a Family Life Interview from the January 29 Noon Report.

Paul Asay is the supervising editor of PLUGGED IN, which offers family-friendly reviews of movies, television, streamed programs, social media, music, video games, and other entertainment content. An outreach of Focus on the Family, PLUGGED IN provides short reviews (with an eye and ear toward Christian parents and their children), expanded conversations about media and culture, and blog posts to help mindful parents guide their children’s choices — and insightful household discussions about the media surrounding us.

PLUGGED IN also regularly features their recommendations on the best entertainment options for young audiences.





PA & NY – Capital Connection – Year in Review 2023

PA & NY – Capital Connection – Year in Review 2023

The Year-End edition of Family Life’s “Capital Connection”

Family Life news anchor Bob Price brings together our primary political/cultural commentators for our annual year-end roundtable. The “Capital Connection” crew evaluates the top five news stories from 2023 in New York State and Pennsylvania.

Listen to their recap of the biggest news and the long-lasting issues which developed across the past 12 months.


Jason McGuire is executive director of New Yorkers for Constitutional Freedom, a grassroots organization which is active in influencing the state’s elected leaders. [Online: AlbanyUpdate.com]

Michael Geer is president of the Pennsylvania Family Institute, which holds a strong presence at the state capitol in Harrisburg and sponsors local pro-family events. [Online: PAFamily.org]




Dr. Wayne Lewis on the Rise of Antisemitism – 12/07/23

Dr. Wayne Lewis on the Rise of Antisemitism – 12/07/23

 Houghton University President Dr. Wayne Lewis discusses the recent rise of hate-speech directed at Jewish-Americans on U-S college campuses.

This special Family Life Interview aired in the Noon Report on Thursday, December 7, the same week that several major university presidents testified on Capitol Hill about the climate and safety of students amid the growing number of demonstrations related to the war between Hamas and Isreal.


Trustees at Houghton University recently renewed the calling of Dr. Wayne Lewis, Jr.  as president for an extended term through 2028.

Issues in Education – Dr. Ralph Kerr – 11/13/23

Issues in Education – Dr. Ralph Kerr – 11/13/23

Family Life’s “Issues in Education

Dr. Ralph Kerr, a longtime school administrator and the founder of the Teaching and Learning Institute talks about key issues happening now among classrooms, school boards, and communities. These conversations are important for parents, extended families and taxpayers.

This week:

  • The “Migrant Crisis” goes to school
  • College Courses on Anti-Semitism
  • What’s happening with the shortage of Milk Cartons?

Ralph Kerr founded the Teaching and Learning Institute, an advocacy organization which encourages people of faith to be actively involved in their local schools and school boards. TLI is based in Houghton, New York. Bob Price is your host for our weekly Monday feature.

Inside Out – Biblical Worldview – Barna Research – 11/01/23

Inside Out – Biblical Worldview – Barna Research – 11/01/23

We develop our way of looking at the world—our worldview—before we turn 13.

Remarkably, new research finds that fewer than one in ten parents think through how to guide their children spiritually during those critical years.  

Dr. George Barna directs the Cultural Research Center at Arizona Christian University and includes these findings in his new book Raising Spiritual Champions: Nurturing Your Child’s Heart, Mind and Soul. “Everybody has a worldview. You need a worldview to get through the day,” Barna says. “So children are going to develop a worldview whether their parents are involved in it or not. That is a vacuum that has to be filled.” 

If parents don’t work toward developing their children’s spiritual life, other worldviews will fill that void. “Without their parents being there to help guide them, they’re just doing the best they can to make sense of it all.” Barna offers ways to help parents to live out their roles as disciple-makers.  “The first of those is to recognize that God gave them these children to raise up to be disciples,” he says.  So it’s important to be intentional and not outsource this critical part of parenting.  

“They have to have not only a commitment, but a plan to take in these children during those formative 12 years, and do everything they can to lead them down the right path.” That begins by knowing what beliefs you as a parent want your children to embrace.  “Why? Because we do what we believe. In essence, your worldview is based on your beliefs, that then gets translated into behavior,” he says.  

“The only way that you can be Christlike is to think like Jesus so that you can live like Jesus.” 

Children see when stated beliefs are not reflected in behavior.  “Kids don’t trust their parents anymore because their parents say one thing and do another. You want to get to your kids? Model the beliefs that you’re trying to teach them. When they see you live it out, then they’re going to say, ‘Okay, I see it. It works. My parents believe it. I’m going to run with it.’” 

Underlying all of this, Dr. George Barna recommends that Christian parents bear in mind the context of all of their parenting.  “Parenting is a vital battle in the spiritual war in which we live,” he says. “We have to be aware of the nature of that battle if we’re going to fight it well.” 

Follow-up links for more information and inspiration:


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