Tag Archives: Hunger Games

End of the World?

The end of the world evokes strong emotions. Current books and movies play on the theme that the culture/world/civilization that we know is ending and a new one is replacing it, usually more horrific than our current culture/world/civilization. The roots of the transformation are in our current society and will bear fruit in the coming years. The fear of global nuclear war spurred such writings from 1950s through the 1990s. The book and movie Hunger Games is a contemporary expression of such apocalypses and their aftermath.

Mark 13 is also an expression of apocalyptic literature. Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem for the Passover festival. Jesus would be arrested and executed by the Roman officials in a few days. Jesus warned the disciples of coming tribulation and devastation. The magnificent temple that was central to Jewish worship would be destroyed in less than forty years by the Roman Empire. The early Christians would face frequent persecution for their faith. These trials might cause the new church to despair, yet Jesus said, “This is but the beginning of the birth pangs” (Mark 13:8).

Birth pangs, though painful in the moment, result in the beginning of a new life. Jesus was teaching his disciples to persevere, to stay hopeful, in spite of the troubles they face. He then goes on to say that to speculate on the exact day or time of this new birth is wasteful use of time. “But about that day or hour no one knows, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son of Man, but only the Father” (Mark 13:32). Instead he says to be engaged in our daily tasks with a watchful heart, that God is near. “It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his slaves in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to be on watch” (Mark 13:34). God has given us each tasks to do in this world, to love our neighbor in word and deed. We do not abandon those tasks to run and hide on some mountain because we fear the “world” is ending. Rather we continue to serve God and God’s world, knowing that someday the master will return and put things right for all people.

Tomorrow I will explore how the “world” has already ended for Christians (Mark 13:35-36).

Lord Jesus, help me not to slip into despair, but to be faithful in my service.

Hunger Games and Compassion

Several youth and adults recommended Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins for me to read. Since the movie version is coming out later this month, I downloaded it to my Droid and read it yesterday. Though it has a disturbing theme, the story kept me “flicking” pages. In a postapocalyptic future, a ruling class keeps tight control over its outlying resource districts by holding a televised survival competition. Twenty-four youth between the ages of 12 and 18 are selected from the twelve districts to enter the Hunger Games, which are a fight to the death.

The story is a classic “haves” versus the “have-nots”; the empire versus the colonies; the ruling elite versus the struggling masses. In this fictional future, the districts struggle to have enough food and other resources, while the Capital has superfluous abundance. Food plays a role through-out the book with many descriptions of meals. For example, “The stew’s made with tender chunks of lamb and dried plums today. Perfect on the bed of wild rice.” The lamb stew becomes a symbol of the Capital and it capricious ways, giving gifts when it chooses to the districts’ young competitors.

There is no religious or spiritual component in this fictional world. God is not even mentioned in the book. Yet two Christian themes stand out. One is compassion for the neighbor. Katniss, the narrator, remembers being given two loaves of bread by a baker’s son, Peeta, when her family is near starvation. This incident becomes a major subtheme. I can’t help but be reminded of Jesus’ declaration, “I was hungry and you fed me, thirsty and you gave me something to drink” (Matthew 25:35). Katniss and Peeta both practice compassion at times and seek to do good, yet I wonder where is the source of their compassion in a world that knows so little of it.

The other Christian theme is that of sacrifice. Katniss “volunteers” for the Games when her younger sister’s name is drawn as the “tribute.” Katniss sacrifices her security to save her sister from almost certain death. Jesus speaks of this the night before his crucifixion, “Not one has greater love that this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).

In such an evil and corrupt world as Hunger Games, it makes me wonder where Katniss finds the courage and power to be compassionate.  If it is a natural human quality, why is there so little of it elsewhere in the book? I continue to believe the ultimate source of all compassion and love is God, for we are created in God’s image. Jesus said, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life . . . I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty”( John 6:27,35.)

Heavenly Father, give us today our daily bread, which is you.