Because of all the buzz about The Hunger Games with the movie release this weekend, a friend of mine asked me to blog about it. I have read the trilogy, and literarily I could write a tome on the subject. But I don’t think that would be helpful here.
There is something you must know about me: as a Christ-follower, I can’t read anything without intellectually and spiritually engaging with it and analyzing it in light of scripture. Now, my B.A. in English certainly aids me in the process, but I am convinced that this mental engagement should be true of every Christ-follower, regardless of education. Here is my previous blog post explaining why.
Now, one might argue that the Hunger Games trilogy/movie is just for entertainment. Herein lies the greatest danger. When we check our brains at the door and cease to engage with what is presented to us, we are more likely to believe a lie, make moral compromises, or be hardened to God’s truth than we would otherwise. Never assume that anything is *just* entertainment.
Everything that is produced, whether book or movie or artwork or music, comes from a specific background and worldview, and it often has an agenda. Be on the lookout. Find out where the artist is coming from, then compare his or her worldview to scripture. If all truth is God’s truth, we must be ready to find it, but don’t forget that Satan is the Father of Lies and he wraps his most potent lies in pretty little packages of half-truths. Want to know the best way to recognize truth when you see it? Saturate yourself with it. Read and study God’s Word and engage with it first, so that it may illuminate everything else. This is spiritual warfare, people. A battle of the mind.
Now, for those of you who have read the Hunger Games trilogy or who plan to see the movie at some point, let me expose you to just a few things to get you on your way to thinking critically about it. And understand, this is just the tip of the iceberg.
First, learn about the author. Find out where the story came from and the author’s worldview (if possible). Here’s an interview to get you started. An interesting quote:
Q: You have said from the start that The Hunger Games story was intended as a trilogy. Did it actually end the way you planned it from the beginning?
A: Very much so. While I didn’t know every detail, of course, the arc of the story from gladiator game, to revolution, to war, to the eventual outcome remained constant throughout the writing process.
Remember that. She had the end in mind from the beginning.
I can also tell you, after reading the trilogy, Suzanne Collins is a functional atheist. There is no consciousness of the divine or the supernatural at all in the Hunger Games, even with such a heavy topic as war and death. Want further proof? Check out this quote from one of her earlier interviews:
11. Do you think you were destined to be a writer? (or is there some free will involved?!)
I…have no idea how to answer this. I would have to go to a cave and meditate on it or something, and then I probably still wouldn’t know.
It is extremely important to know where an author is coming from, because background informs the philosophy, beliefs, and values presented in any work.
Second, look for themes. I wrote down a full page of themes running through the books (and could write a term paper on each one), so I can’t fit them all here, but consider these:
• Evolution (consider the mutts, mocking jays, Katniss herself)
• Blurred lines (between right/wrong, good/evil, sides in the war)–There’s a scene in the last book where the two sides come at one another from two ends of a street and the citizens are caught in the middle. The lines blur as they converge and Katniss can’t tell who is friend or foe, so she starts shooting her way through. Such a concrete visual of this constant theme.
• Identity–What makes us who we are?
• The color white as a symbol of sterility, evil, and control
Third, pay attention to the thesis. It jumped off the page at me when I read it, though it was couched near the end of the third book:
“Are you preparing for another war, Plutarch?” I ask.
“Oh, not now. Now we’re in that sweet period where everyone agrees that our recent horrors should never be repeated,” he says. “But collective thinking is usually short-lived. We’re fickle, stupid beings with poor memories and a great gift for self-destruction. Although, who knows? Maybe this will be it, Katniss.”
“What?” I ask.
“The time it sticks. Maybe we are witnessing the evolution of the human race. Think about that.” –Mockingjay, page 379
Yes, think about that. Think about all of it. (This end was in mind from the beginning, remember?) Then…
Fourth, look for biblical ideas in contrast/comparison. Here are a few as food for thought:
• Obey those in authority because God has placed them there (Romans 13:1-7)
• As much as is within you, live peaceably with all people (Romans 12:18)
• Live by God’s moral standard, not your own (Matthew 7:12; Matthew 22:36-40)
• Christ-followers are to expect suffering (Matthew 10:16-22; 1 Peter 4:12-13)
With all the buzz about the Hunger Games, it pains my heart to hear Christians openly rave about it in the same way everyone else does. We who are indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God should be engaging with this stuff on another level, and our praise should be guarded. The world lauds success of all kinds, but the things that are important to the heart of God–and should thus be important to the hearts of His children–are of a completely different nature. Let our loudest praise be for those things, and let us live with our eyes open.