By: Clare Bruce

In an age when the idea of “truth” is about as wobbly as the climate, many young people are struggling to know what to believe.

It’s this cultural uncertainty that’s inspired author Chris Parker’s recent book, The Frog and the Fish: Reflections on work, technology, sex, stuff, truth and happiness.

Aimed at teens and young adults, it helps young people consider the culture they live in, and how it’s shaping their attitudes and beliefs. The title refers to the way frogs and fish, swimming in water that’s heating up around them, can be at risk of great harm without realising it. The book tackles issues like digital technology, social media, narcissism, sexuality and materialism.

Now shortlisted for Australian Christian Book of the Year, The Frog and the Fish is having an impact, with some schools buying it en-masse and giving a copy to every graduate.

The author said he was deeply concerned about how cultural change is affecting the current generation of young people.

“We are seeing a very big shift in how we understand what is true and what is authoritative,” he said. “We’ve moved very much away from seeing the Bible as an authority for truth. We then moved into a period where we saw science and reason and evidence being the ultimate source of authority for truth. But what we’re seeing now in the cultural water of our world, is a sense that truth is based on our own personal perceptions and feelings.

“I think that’s having a significant and detrimental shaping effect on our culture and our young adults.”

Parker said social media is a classic example of a new phenomenon that’s changing the way humans think and relate.

“Even when we’re using technology well, using it in a Godly way, and managing the amount of social media we consume, it is still having a shaping influence in our lives,” he said.

“What we’re seeing is a sense that truth is based on our own personal perceptions and feelings.”

“Its mere existence is shaping us. Social media is very much designed around self-promotion. So if we’re on social media we start then to have a self-promoting attitude in other aspects of our lives. It starts to make narcissism and self-love, a kind of virtuous thing.”

Parker stresses that his message is not a Puritan, anti-cultural one.

“Culture is one of God’s great gifts to us,” he said. “I think that when he looked at the world and said ‘it is good’ after he had made it, I think he had in mind all of the cultural potential that he wove into the fabric of creation as well.

“But culture, just like ourselves, has been damaged by the fall, from a sense a brokenness that came from rebellion. So culture is damaged.

“It’s good, and there’s good creational essence to be found, but there’s a subtle whispering, sometimes shouting, woven into culture that is pulling us away from the good life God has designed for us.”

frog and the fishFind Out More

Learn more about The Frog and The Fish and find study guides, videos and download a free chapter, at the Frog and the Fish website.

Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

About the Author: Clare Bruce is a digital journalist for the broadcast industry.