What The Hunger Games Tell Us About Ourselves

Midnight last night, the next blockbuster movie series opened in theaters across the country.

The Hunger Games is a futuristic trilogy that depicts a desolate, yet believable, post-apocalyptic world in what was once North America. After a rebellion from the outlying districts, the central government of Panem works hard to keep the losing side under their thumb through acts of control and cruelty.

Most horrifying is an annual reality show featuring young people chosen from the land’s various outlying districts. Every year on Reaping Day, a boy and a girl (ages 12 to 18) from each of the 12 districts are chosen by lottery to fight to the death in a televised gladiator event. The participants are called “tributes.” Residents of the Capitol, who prevailed in the rebellion aren’t required to participate in them.

Most of the districts despise the Games because they serve as a constant reminder of their defeat in the rebellion 70 years before, and of course, it costs them two of their beloved children every year. Viewing the Hunger Games is mandatory.

The protagonist in the story is a wily 16 year old girl named Katniss Everdeen (played by Jennifer Lawrence) who volunteers to take her younger sister’s place in the games.

Our family missed the Harry Potter and Twilight fads. However, this book series has mesmerized us. Despite not being much of a fiction reader, I found the story extremely compelling. I haven’t seen the movie (we’re going tonight!) although my niece attended last night’s midnight premier and loved it.

What The Hunger Games Tells Us About Us

The book series portrays the Capitol as an unmistakable cross between the ancient Roman empire and a futuristic United States.

Residents of the Capitol wear outrageous clothing and extravagant make-up. They gorge themselves at banquets and then purge so they can gorge themselves again. Their bloodlust is seemingly never satisfied, which is why they  absolutely adore the Hunger Games.

Sounds a little like us.

I don’t know a great deal about Suzanne Collins, the author, although my compadre Eugene Scott reported in an earlier blog post  that the idea for the story is the result of Collins channel surfing between a reality show and war footage late one night. She confesses, “I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way.”

Some critics complain that the story lacks any religious influence or redeeming value. I disagree.

My niece made an interesting comment about her experience in the movie theater last night:

The worst part? When the audience cheered the death of a tribute…I wanted to yell at them all, to say that they were no better than the Capital[sic].

Perhaps Collins is describing what we’re becoming: a godless, bloodthirsty, reality-TV driven, consumeristic  society. What’s the fastest growing sport in America? Mixed Martial Arts fighting. Viewers can’t can’t get enough of the bloody brawls. Reality TV seems to be driving the media. And all the while, we become increasingly narcissistic.

Ironically, the Lenten theme at our church is entitled “Hungry?” All of us are hungry. To satisfy it, we often reach for anything sensational,  titillating, and adrenaline-producing. Yet we can never get enough. Ultimately, the logical end of our futile pursuits brings us to the destruction of our souls.

Jesus, on the other, offers something that does satisfy. Himself.

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” John 6:35

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado with Eugene Scott. If you don’t have plans for Palm Sunday (April 1) or Easter (April 8), and you live in the Denver area, please join us at The Neighborhood Church.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “What The Hunger Games Tell Us About Ourselves

  1. Great post! At first I was like who actually wrote this because I knew you don’t read much fiction. And then I was like there’s no way he stayed up to see the movie last night. Great point about what our society really needs. Christ is the only one who can satisfy.

  2. Georgie-ann

    The Bible has pertinent things to say about “seeing” and “hearing” and God and people:

    Proverbs 20:12 “The hearing ear and the seeing eye, The LORD has made them both.”

    But:

    Ecclesiastes 1:8 ” … The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing.”

    Isaiah 6:9 ” … (He said), Go, and tell this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’”

    Isaiah 33:14-16
    14 “The sinners in Zion are afraid;
    Fearfulness has seized the hypocrites:
    ‘Who among us shall dwell with the devouring fire?
    Who among us shall dwell with everlasting burnings?’
    15 “He who walks RIGHTEOUSLY and speaks uprightly,
    He who despises the gain of oppressions,
    Who gestures with his hands, refusing bribes,
    Who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed,
    And shuts his eyes from seeing evil:
    16 “He will dwell on high;
    His place of defense will be the fortress of rocks;
    Bread will be given him,
    His water will be sure.”

    Matthew 13:13,14
    13 “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand.
    14 “And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive.'”

    Mark 4:12 ” … so that ‘Seeing they may see and not perceive, And hearing they may hear and not understand; Lest they should turn, And their sins be forgiven them.’”

    Luke 8:10 ” … (He said), To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of God, but to the rest it is given in parables, that ‘Seeing they may not see, And hearing they may not understand.’ ”

    Acts 28:26 ” … Go to this people and say: ‘Hearing you will hear, and shall not understand; And seeing you will see, and not perceive.’ ”

    2 Peter 2:7-9
    7 ” … delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked 8 (for that RIGHTEOUS man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)— 9 then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment … ”

    Well, are we re-enacting these things now, and once more, even to this very day? Does the spiritual corruption of ancient Rome, with all its Godless-ness and barbarism, duly rise again in our midst, while many remain “none the wiser?” — even becoming willing participants? Are these dramas — movies and stories — akin to modern day parables? — serving a similar purpose? Do some really “see”? And are others merely “seeing without comprehension” of the seriousness of the message for their souls? And who among us is who?

    There are many things we cannot “know” directly ourselves, but as Peter said: ” … the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment.” These things are ultimately God’s business. We should be sincerely praying to be among those who truly will and do “see” as God has meant us to see.

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