WHY WE CARE


Plugged In exists to shine a light on the world of popular entertainment while giving you and your family the essential tools you need to understand, navigate and impact the culture in which we live. Through reviews, articles and discussions, we want to spark intellectual thought, spiritual growth and a desire to follow the command of Colossians 2:8: "See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ."

YOUR STORIES


Family uses Plugged In as a ‘significant compass’

"I am at a loss for words to adequately express how much it means to my husband and me to know that there is an organization like Focus that is rooting for us. Just today I was reading Psalm 37 and thinking about how your ministry provides ways to 'dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.' We have two teenagers and an 8-year-old in our household...Plugged In has become a significant compass for our family. All three of our kids are dedicated to their walk with Christ but they still encounter challenges. Thanks for all of your research and persistence in helping us navigate through stormy waters."

Plugged In helps college student stand-up for his belief

"Thanks for the great job you do in posting movie and television reviews online. I’m a college freshman and I recently had a confrontational disagreement with my English professor regarding an R-rated film. It is her favorite movie and she wanted to show it in class. I went to your Web site to research the film’s content. Although I had not seen the movie myself, I was able to make an educated argument against it based on the concerns you outlined. The prof said that she was impressed by my stand and decided to poll the whole class and give us a choice. We overwhelmingly voted to watch a G-rated movie instead! I’ve learned that I can trust your site and I will be using it a lot in the future.”

Plugged In brings ‘Sanity and Order’ to Non-believer

“Even though I don’t consider myself a Christian, I find your Plugged In Web site useful and thought-provoking. No one reviews movies like you do. Instead of being judgmental, you put entertainment ‘on trial.’ After presenting the evidence, you allow the jury of your readers to decide for themselves what they should do. In my opinion, you bring sanity and order to the wild world of modern day entertainment. Keep up the good work!”

Mom thinks Plugged In is the ‘BEST Christian media review site’

"Our family doesn't go to the movies until we go online and check out your assessment of a given film. I think this is the BEST Christian media review website that I've found, and I recommend it to my family and friends. Keep up the good work!"

SUPPORT THE WORK OF PLUGGED IN

Our hope is that whether you're a parent, youth leader or teen, the information and tools at Plugged In will help you and your family make appropriate media decisions. We are privileged to do the work we do, and are continually thankful for the generosity and support from you, our loyal readers, listeners and friends.

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Album Review

You wouldn't think a genre of music based on pummeling, distorted guitars and raspily raging screams would be a hotbed for Christian artists. But you'd be surprised. Some of the most influential acts in the burgeoning metalcore scene— As I Lay Dying, Underoath, Demon Hunter, The Devil Wears Prada and Haste the Day—are chockablock with committed believers growling decidedly countercultural messages about faith and forgiveness.

We should add another band to that list as well. Hailing from the heart of Amish country, Lancaster, Penn., the metalcore quintet August Burns Red has steadily cultivated a fervent following since its inception in 2002. The band's third studio album, 2009's Constellations, earned rave reviews and a Top 25 debut. Now, Leveler, leavened with messages of perseverance that are as hopeful as the band's sound is ferociously brutal, levels another aural blast at fans.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

Other Negative Elements

Conclusion

Pro-social Content

While some of its lyrics are a bit opaque, "Empire" seems to suggest that we should view our creative endeavors in light of the fact that only God's work is eternal ("The Author wrote a story in the sky, and the earth below/ … We have only what we're given"). The song rightly exhorts us to ponder the legacy we're leaving behind ("Our decisions affect our descendants").

"Internal Cannon" narrates the story of a struggler crushed by guilt and shame who chooses to relinquish his failures and find hope in forgiveness: "I'll never stop fighting/ … I won't dwell in unhappiness, grasping humility, asking forgiveness." Likewise, the struggle-filled song "Divisions" concludes with a desperate man's prayer for deliverance and forgiveness ("Oh God, I'm speaking to you/You said we are redeemed/Oh God, I'm speaking to you/You said we are set free/We are the weak/The pain is the devourer/It's devouring me/Forgive me"). "Pangea" longs for wholeness and relational reconciliation, and the title track talks of a wounded person's choice to forgive instead of seeking revenge ("My heart thirsts for vengeance, but my Father has taught me forgiveness").

"Cutting the Ties" encourages a hardened prodigal ("Beneath the tough facade, I know that we are getting through") not to capitulate to the temptation to commit suicide ("It'd be so easy to take the easy way out/Compassion is a beautiful thing, so show some for yourself/ ... Life is a gift/Remember this/Break free/Patience is a virtue/You will be revived").

"Carpe Diem" involves a compelling back-and-forth conversation between a young man committed to pursuing his dream and an accusing naysayer out to crush those aspirations. "40 Nights" warns against buying the lie that today's reckless choices won't have consequences later ("You're living for today, but your future is looking bleak/One day it'll all come crashing down/ … Greed, envy, gluttony will amount to nothing"). "Salt & Light" appropriates Revelation-like imagery as it describes the ultimate victory of God's people ("We want to hear trumpets roar with words that trample the pagans' cavalry/Pummel the darkness with light/ … We will march with full force").

"Boys of Fall" mourns the loss of the four high school athletes who were killed in a car accident in Manheim, Penn. The song plumbs the depths of grief, asking, "Is there a way to live again through this tragedy," then affirms, "He is God/ … All we have is you."

"Poor Millionaire" calls a deceptive, scheming Christian shepherd to account for preaching spiritual truth outwardly but inwardly pursuing a greedy, self-serving agenda: "Where is the life in the life you live?/You are the poor millionaire/ … A lifeless empire, a lifeless heir."

Objectionable Content

Lyrics on two tracks could be heard as profanities. Regarding the word choices on "Poor Millionaire," frontman Jake Luhrs told rockedition.com, "There's some pretty brutal lines in that track, but that's what was on my heart, so I wrote it." He's likely talking about one word used to describe the song's counterfeit spiritual leader: "You b‑‑tard/Look at what you have become." In similar territory, "Leveler" describes someone's temptation to exact vengeance: "If I had not decided to follow Him/ … I'd put you through the same h‑‑‑ you put me through." "Salt & Light" includes a graphic image of martyrdom ("And if my throat were cut from ear to ear, I hope these words would carry on").

Summary Advisory

August Burns Red lead singer Jake Luhrs certainly isn't afraid to speak his mind when it comes to the subjects the band tackles. Talking about some of the in-your-face lyrics on "Poor Millionaire," Luhrs says, "I put them in there for people to understand how serious I am about that song. I want it to be like, 'Oh my gosh, did he really just say that?' Not for shock value, but for you to understand the seriousness of what I'm talking about."

Make no mistake—this band is very serious about the subjects it sings about. There are some "brutal" moments here, as Luhrs points out. But they probably won't be too off-putting to fans of this sonically bruising genre; I suspect most attentive listeners will interpret them exactly as Luhrs intends. Along the way, those fans will also be treated to August Burns Red's double-barrel metalcore affirmation of faith and forgiveness, determination and hope.

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

Get weekly e-news, Culture Clips & more!