Beyond the Trend Teens Recommend: WATCH. READ. LISTEN.

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This is the first of a what will be an on-going monthly Virtue Works! series of articles written BY Catholic teens for Catholic teens and their families. These four teens are called the "Beyond the Trend Teens" because their task as a blogging team is to look beyond trends to highlight Catholic authors and artists who show us how to #Be The Change we long for in the world. Two of the teens attend public school and two attend private school. Their identities are semi-anonymous because any teen can be a Beyond the Trend Teen when they choose media and entertainment with content that goes beyond the status quo that actually affirms character and conscience.  What these teens are recommending goes beyond books, videos and music. They are recommending we look at the authors and artists and notice how they are making a difference in our culture... ask ourselves how is God calling us to discover their work and perhaps follow in their footsteps, to use our creativity to #BeTheChange needed in our world as well.  Scroll below to read and discover great choices to WATCH. READ. & LISTEN.

Or click the link to listen to the first BTTR Radio Show that aired on WRYT/Covenant Network.

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WATCH: PG

Kevin James

Kevin James is an actor, comedian and screenwriter. He is Catholic but not many people know that about him. Kevin James intentionally chose to be a "clean" comedian. He felt it was more practical to skip the foul language and the sleaze, so a bigger audience could enjoy his comedy.  He says he actually wants to glorify God in every way. He wants to be able to sit down and watch and enjoy his movies with his children. Even though Kevin James is not a saint, and all his films are not family friendly, he seems to try to use clean content as much as possible. He also says he loves his faith and learns more about it every day. He was born and raised Catholic. Kevin James has been married to Steffiana de la Cruz since 2004 and has four kids. 

Some of Kevin James' Work:

The voice of Frankenstein in Hotel Transylvania 1, 2, and 3. He was the writer, director, and producer of both Paul Blart: Mall Cop movies.  He was the was writer and director of Zookeeper.  These are all fun movies.  He played a more serious role in the great movie Little Boy. Enjoy!

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Read: YA & ER

Gene Luen Yang

ER's take:

Have you ever heard someone say that comic books aren’t real books? Have you heard someone say that comic books aren’t a piece of literature?  Gene Luen Yang is an author who wanted to change the “stereotype” of comic books. He wanted to demonstrate that comic books can actually teach you a life lesson in a fun and creative way. He is best known for his top selling book American Born Chinese, which won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2007. He was the fifth person ever to be honored as an (official) National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. Born into a Catholic Chinese-American family, his Catholic faith brings a unique depth to his stories and his art.

Gene Luen Yang wanted to show the world that even comic books can make an impact as literature. A lot of times teens think they need to “keep up with a trend” but honestly, just because a bunch of people do things one way, it doesn’t mean we have to follow. Everyone is unique and different, so we should have the courage to do things differently. Gene Yang is a great example of breaking from the path and exploring and creating good things that might be missed if everyone just follows the trends.   

Find out more about Gene Yang at his website. He is also part of the creative team behind the popular animated TV series, The Last Air Bender and lots more.

YA's thoughts:

Once you discover Gene Luen Yang, don't miss out on his books: Boxers and Saints. They are a two-volume set created in an interesting way. The pair of books tell the same story, but are written from two completely different points of view.  The books center around China’s "Boxer Rebellion" revolution fought from 1899 to 1901.  The first book, Boxers, is from the point of view of Little Bao.  Little Bao believes that foreign devils, missionaries from the western part of the world, should leave their country alone...and deserve to die.  Trained in martial arts by his friend, he sets out with the boys from his village, he teaches other guys ninja skills to drive the foreign invaders out of China.  

The second book, Saints is about a girl who is called Four-Girl.  After her grumpy grandfather calls her a devil, she decides to accept what seems to be her place in the world, and tries to be the most devilish girl she can be.  She hears about the foreign devils and decides to learn from them.  She likes food they serve, and soon realizes she believes truth they come to share.  Four-Girl, now called Vibana, struggles to find her vocation and calls on Saint Joan of Arc to help her.  She finds courage and a willingness to become a martyr for Christ. Both books are amazing reads for Catholic teens.  (FYI: Though illustrated, Boxers has some intense battle scenes.)

Gene Yang is a talented author who is very accessible to readers who might not ever experience the stories he tells, but now can enjoy them because of his graphic novel format. Good stuff.

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Listen: CB

Dana Catherine

Dana Catherine is a Catholic singer and songwriter. She is not well known because there are so few platforms on which Catholic artists can be discovered... in which they can share their Catholic faith overtly. Her voice sounds similar to the popular Christian vocalist Lauren Daigle. 

 Right now, she is a youth minister in Raleigh, NC. She goes to many missions and enriches many events with her talent all across the USA. How she started to sing is a big part of her story.

 Dana Catherine grew up in a Catholic family. Ever since she was young child, she always loved to sing. In her senior year in high-school, she started to learn the guitar and the piano. When she was in College, she had some trouble in her first year. That is when she realized that she could find peace, love, and trust through Jesus Christ. So she started to write her songs. Her first song, "My Savior in Me" was written while she was in her car. In an interview, she called drive time her "Holy Hour." Her first album, "Glorious Horizons" was released in 2015 and after that the single, "My Savior in Me." 

 Dana Catherine is a very talented singer, but not too many people know about her. So people, listen up. Check out her songs and understand her story, you'll be glad you did. Look beyond typical pop music and discover some great Catholic artists, who need our support to be able to do more of what they do. 

WE hope you have enjoyed this first BTTR (Beyond the Trend Teens Recommend) and enjoy discovering  Catholics who are using creativity to make the world a BeTTeR place. We will be posting articles in this same format each month for you to find new favorite authors and artists!

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