Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 07/09/21

Holy cliffhanger! The Chosen, the Lost-style TV drama series about the ministry of Jesus that has become a worldwide hit and the #1 crowdfunded media project in history is releasing its highly-anticipated Season 2 finale this Sunday, July 11 with a global livestream simulcast on Facebook, YouTube, and The Chosen app. The Season 2 premiere was watched live by 750,000 people and episodes of the show have been viewed over 200 million times and translated into more than 50 languages.
Series creator/director Dallas Jenkins sums up the saga thus far saying “This season, Jesus’ growing fame has brought resistance from the Romans and religious leaders, and the disciples are struggling with how to deal with it. This sets the stage for Jesus to put together the most famous sermon in history…Despite the growing danger, he’s determined to deliver one of the most important sermons of his life.”
Via crowdfunding, over 19,000 people invested $10 million to film the first season. Season Two generated over $12 million from over 125,000 people who paid it forward. “We are encouraged by the number of Season 1 supporters who also helped us produce Season 2,” adds Executive Producer Derral Eves. Producers will begin crowdfunding Season 4 as soon as Season 3 funding is complete. A total of seven seasons are planned.
The Chosen is produced by Loaves & Fishes Productions and distributed by Angel Studios. Season One is currently streaming on a variety of platforms including Peacock, iTunes, Amazon, and VidAngel and is available in Walmart stores nationwide. Seven seasons are planned in all.
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Song of the times. Contemporary Christian singer Cade Thompson’s personal experience with what turned out to be a false active-shooter threat in high school spurred him to write a song about the about the fear and yearning for hope of a better future today’s young people are experiencing particularly acutely. My conversation with him follows the video.

JWK: What led you to write New Normal?

Cade Thompson: New Normal really started for me when I was a senior in high school. I remember walking into my high school like it was any other day…This day, in particular, there was actually a school shooting threat in my school. I remember the fear that creeped in from the inside out…As I was looking around, my peers and I were wondering what was going on. I vividly remember calling my mom and her not answering the phone and just the fear of being in that moment. That day, I ended up going home safe. All the students went home safe – but I remember that fear that felt so real to me.

(Later) I was talking to me mom – I was really processing a lot – and I expressed to her that, growing up in today’s society, a school shooting threat had been one of my biggest fears. That really all stemmed from when I was five-years-old. My mom and I were taking my sister to school and there was actually an active shooter at her school. I kind of remember living through that at a young age. That fear just was placed inside of me at a young age. Fast forward to (me being) a senior in high school, ten days after what I had experienced I ended up writing the song. I knew that that was the best way that I could process what I had just walked through. That’s why I wrote the song.

JWK: How old are you now?

CT: I’m 20 years old.

JWK: So, this incident wasn’t too long ago. How intertwined do you think issues like mental health and social media bullying are with these sort of active-shooter situations, particularly in schools?

CT: That’s a great question. I know growing up in today’s society, my generation tasted a lot of different fears that I don’t think a lot of generations in the past have faced. I do believe that social media does cause higher levels of anxiety and comparison. I’ve seen that in my own life. I really think that we can combat that by focusing on the people around us and spreading hope in this world. That is why I wrote the song.

JWK: I know that you don’t want this song to be perceived as political but, in a way, when you touch on subjects like this you’re already touching on politics. As a young person who has experienced the fear of gun violence, do you have any thoughts on what should be done?

CT: The song New Normal is really (an expression of) a hope for a New Normal. (I’m hoping for) a community of people that can on others – taking our eyes off of ourselves, getting plugged into the community, spreading that love and spreading that hope that, ultimately, as a believer in myself and a follower of Jesus I follow the words of Jesus. And it’s very, very cool because in John Jesus says “When you go through trouble ” – not “if” – “take heart for I have overcome the world.” That’s the message I cling to. That’s the hope that I cling to.

JWK: You went to public school, right?

CT: Yes, I did.

JWK: What do you make of the observation that there is substantially more gun violence in public schools than in private or faith-based schools? Do you think that’s a coincidence or do you think there’s a reason for that?

CT: That’s a great question. I know that for me, personally in my life, I was impacted by the power of the Gospel and I’m thankful for the foundation that I’ve had at a young age because I was raised in the church. My mom was a children’s pastor and youth pastor. From the moment that I experienced Jesus in my life for the very first time was when everything changed. I believe that as people get a hold of who Jesus is it can really change the way that live and love and lead in this world.

CT: What do you hope people take from this song?

CT: The lyrics say “In this world there will be trouble but take heart, take heart, He has overcome the world.” I think the song New Normal really is just a prayer – a prayer and a hope for a New Normal. Hopefully, people will listen to the message of this song and they’ll be inspired. They can take heart and they can take courage found in a purpose bigger than themselves, found in Jesus and walk in a relationship with Him as, ultimately, our New Normal can emerge as Jesus changes us from the inside out.

JWK: This past year has been particularly rough for young people. Add into all that anxiety all the concern over climate change. Do you think that this pervasive sense of gloom adds to the feelings of almost despair that many young people are experiencing?

CT: For me, I always try to look at life on the hopeful side of things. I hope to inspire other people to really find hope in this world. It can be very easy, as you look around this world, to kind of be discouraged but I know that Jesus wants to meet us in the middle where we’re at. That’s the hope that I cling to every day. That’s honestly why I make music – to really, hopefully, encourage people and say, hey, you can have hope today.

JWK: Providing hope to people is an important motivation for you.

CT: Absolutely yes. That’s the inspiration for why I do what I do today.

End Note: Cade Thompson’s debut album drops in September.  For more information go to WeWantaNewNormal.com.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11
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