“A crime with this many witnesses, should have never gone so far.” – movie site, Alpha Dog
Alpha Dog, which is a movie based on the real life story of Jesse James Hollywood, recently came out on video. The story follows the young drug dealer and his involvement in the kidnapping and murder of a 15-year-old boy. In the movie, Hollywood is known as Johnny Truelove.
Truelove and his friends grew up in the sprawling, privileged neighborhoods around LA. These teens were bored with too much free time and money. The movie site explained their world this way. They strung “one hazy day into another, looking for the next thrill doing suburban imitations of the thug life they idolize from rap music, video games and movies. When you’re living without any consequences, anything can happen.”
Johnny and his guys kidnap the younger brother (Zack) of a guy who owes them money. The kid began to like the party culture of the gang. Developing a bond with some of the guys, Zack felt part of it. They treat him kind of like one of the guys. The only exception is that he was not free to leave. As a 15-year old boy, he begins to idolize one of his captors wanting to be like him. It’s a strange story. But it rings true in light of today’s pop culture, broken families and warped sense of values.
Confused about what to do as authorities search for Zack, Johnny decides the boy has to die. Some of the gang are torn because they are worried if the boy talks. Yet, they genuinely like the kid. The unthinkable happens as one of the gang members carries out the order to execute Zack.
The movie is not for the faint of heart. It has horrible language and other inappropriate material, which unfortunately goes with the territory. When you make an honest movie about dark times, it is hard to sugar coat the sad reality. The language, pervasive drug use and sensuality reflect a generation that has lost its way. While there are many great kids, there are also many lost boys too.
The following is from a handout that I wrote on rite of passage ceremonies and the importance of recapturing Biblical manhood. All of this melds together because lost boys need markers to find their way. And you may just be one of those guides who can help save a life.
Unfortunately, boys are so eager to find acceptance and brotherhood that they will even look for it in negative places if they can’t get it from good, honorable sources. This explains why so many young men turn to street gangs. Once they pass through initiation rites that can include violence and illegal activities, they are welcomed into the gang as brothers. Sometimes gang membership is more about survival than replacing familyconnections, but it is always about belonging.
The longing to belong is fundamental to human nature—a good longing that corresponds to being made for relationship. The desire to be competent and capable and to test one’s skills against another is also good. In a broken, sinful world, good desires sometimes turn to destructive ends.
Some young men run into a different type of problem. In today’s culture, youth is idolized. Growing old and taking on responsibility is not viewed with the same level of honor as it once was in Western society. Many boys, like Peter Pan, would love to stay young forever and live in a modern Neverland.
All you have to do is look at the 20-somethings who shirk away from responsibility andtry to enjoy the fruits of life without paying the price for them. Young men want sex, but they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. They want a car without paying for it. They want respect without earning it.
Many aspects of pop culture today idolize people who demonstrate very little integrity.The less responsible someone seems, the more famous they can become. The heroes of a culture determine the destiny of a society because the things we esteem as valuable shape how we live out our daily lives. And our problem today is that many Biblical virtues do not play out well on MTV.
Teens are influenced to enjoy their youth to the max because many in society view growing older as moving backwards. The rewards of life don’t seem worth growing up for these days. But youth will eventually realize that time marches forward even if they want to turn back the clock. This reality forces them to a crisis of destiny. How they respond to this reality makes all the difference.
The above cultural realities only indicate how important it is for Christian men to help the emerging generations understand the value, dignity and worth of the call to Biblical manhood. Developing a series of celebrations and teachings that foster this reality will help future generations embrace the transitions of life. It will lead to a higher quality of life because none of us can stop time.
Read the entire handout at http://www.organicfaith.com/RitesofPassageCeremonies.pdf