My Culture Summer 2018 Recap by Kiernan Doyle Another summer has come and gone. For me, this one was one to remember. I was lucky enough to serve at Life Teen’s Camp Covecrest. Between the chaos of messy games and crushing it white water rafting, I had the summer of a lifetime. But now, in the blink of an eye, it’s all over. What happened? If you’re anything like me, you might need to take a second to process everything, good and bad, that made the summer of 2018 an unforgettable one. So before we dive into back to school sales and the busy month of September, let’s look back at some of the biggest moments of summer 2018: Blockbusters With movies like “Jurassic World” and “The Incredibles II” making their way back to the big screens, 2018 was a summer of notable returns. We were able to revisit some of our favorite characters and relive some of our favorite storylines. I mean, does seeing dinosaurs wreak havoc on well laid out plans ever get old? Also, when will these guys learn that you can’t control a T-Rex? Nevertheless, I can’t deny that there were some awesome moments of heroism and family values on display in movies this summer. I especially loved how these movies appealed to our sense of adventure and desire for greatness. Ultimately, this summer delivered on the promise to blow our blockbuster expectations out of the water and had me wondering — and perhaps you, too — would I rather babysit a disappearing Jack-Jack or watch a mama velociraptor’s babies? Chris Pratt’s Witness Speaking of Jurassic World, this was the summer of big wins for everyone’s favorite TV star turned blockbuster mainstay, Chris Pratt. Chris Pratt was the recipient of the Generation Award at the “MTV Movie & TV Awards.” During his acceptance speech, Pratt shared some wisdom with viewers in what he called, “Chris Pratt’s Nine Rules for Living.” He made some funny points in the speech (check out what he had to say about bathroom etiquette at parties) but most notably, he used his time on stage to share why a relationship with Jesus Christ is a necessity. “Learn to pray. It’s easy, and it is so good for your soul,” was just one piece of advice he offered to listeners. I learned a lot about the balance of joy and humor in sharing the Gospel with my friends and family from this one witness. Chris knew the limited window he had and the fact that many listening probably wouldn’t have responded well to a heavy-handed testimony. With that in mind, he hit the highlights, got serious at moments, had fun, and didn’t shy away from speaking the truth: “God is real. God loves you, God wants the best for you. Believe that, I do.” Concerts The summer 2018 concert lineup was beyond amazing. Taylor Swift, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Ed Sheeran all touring at once? How do you even choose? These shows have all proven to be never before seen experiences. Taylor Swift has surpassed all pyrotechnics and concert going expectations with her “Reputation” tour. I mean, each show has three stages. How do you top that? One of my favorite things about summer is the feeling you get when a wide variety of people come together at a big show, all united for something they love. There’s no denying that the concerts this summer were some of the most unprecedented and most memorable shows to date. Immigration In the political sphere, immigration reform was a hot topic of the summer. The tragic separations that took place at the United States-Mexico border had a lot of people asking, “Is this the best course of action?” As pro-life people, we are called to uphold the dignity of all people from conception to natural death. Any actions or laws that deny the dignity of an individual need to be critically examined. Today, we continue to pray for a holy and righteous solution to the complicated and widely debated actions that have taken place at the border. Suicide We can’t talk about this summer without addressing some tragic losses. In June, the world was struck by the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdian. These seemingly back-to-back tragedies left a lot of people wondering, “How can we prevent this from happening?” In our current culture, there’s a stigma associated with suicide, which makes some people hesitant to talk about it. Others want to comment on what could’ve been done differently or what we need to do better. Nonetheless, in moments like these, we have to remember that we must love well. If you have personally been affected by suicide, take the time and space you need to truly grieve and process the great loss you’ve experienced. While we can’t know the weight of someone’s suffering — and therefore shouldn’t judge their mental state or actions — we do know that Christ walks with us through and gives meaning to our suffering. We are not alone in our pain, even if we sometimes feel that we are. I encourage you to have the courage to share your struggles with someone you trust, who will be able to direct and guide you in whatever your going through. Reach out to a parent, teacher, counselor, youth minister, parish priest, aunt, uncle… anyone who has your best interests in mind, who you trust to share what you’re going through. If you are struggling with self-harm or suicidal thoughts, know that you are loved. You are loved by a God who divinely inspired and created you. Your life matters. Please ask for the help that you need. If you think you or a friend is struggling with suicidal thoughts, ask for help from someone you can trust and/or call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 (available 24 hours everyday). Closing Out the Summer It’s good to take time to look back at all of the experiences that have shaped the seasons of our lives. So as you prepare to go back to school and dive into your extracurricular activities and youth group, take some time to look back on everything that’s happened this summer. What can you learn from both the positive and negative moments? What questions do you need to ask about how they affect your understanding of the faith? Jesus wants to enter fully into your life and every aspect of who you are, so let Him. Share the good and the bad with Him and thank Him for all of the ways He made this summer one of the best ones yet.