Friday, June 15, 2012

Hunger for Evil

After due prayer, deliberation, and discussion with my parents, I have asked and received permission to be controversial. :)

All in a good cause.

 With all reliance upon the Lord for wisdom and tact,  I would like to inform you of a dangerous compromise on the part of Christian bibliophiles. Church congregations, groups of homeschool moms, and myriads of Christian teens are giving their endorsement to three books that teach depravity in the worst way--because the depravity is disguised as good fighting against an even greater evil. This series has caused a loosening of standards, and an endorsement of worldly thinking systems. It has dulled proper horror at murder and deceit. In allowing it into our literary diets, we have ushered in a Trojan horse of Darwinian thinking and moral ambiguity. Probably most of you know which series I refer to. I'll tell you in just a minute.

Let me lay all my cards on the table from the first. I've never read these books. I know the story synopsis of all three novels. I have never seen the move, or the trailer--only a movie review. I barely know the names of the characters involved. And some might say that this disqualifies me to speak to the issue. But I don't have to put my hand in the fire to know that it's hot. And I don't have to read the whole book to know that it's wrong. We're called to judge books first of all by their covers--and if the cover has the appearance of evil, then need we go farther?

Most blogs I've read, however, didn't judge the book by its cover. They read it eagerly, and endorsed it happily. So the purpose of today's post is to challenge those who have accepted this series as good, and to equip those who disagree with the points they need to refute it

The series is the New York Times bestseller The Hunger Games. For those who do not know the books, I promise to be discreet with the synopsis and information I include about the storyline. First I'll give you a short synopsis of what the book is about--and then I'll share the Christian principles it violates in its main premise.
 I was not aware in beginning this article that Suzanne Collins, the author, holds to the Roman Catholic faith, nor do I know to what extent this faith affects her life and writing.  I don't know if any of the characters are portrayed as Christians. But as we've discussed before, a book needs to have a groundwork of morality, a clear and biblically based moral system, whether or not the Source of that system is openly expressed. And here, the moral system is twisted in the name of good. 

Synopsis
The US is long lost in history, and upon the continent of North America, the country of  Panem reigns. The land is divided into one main capitol, and twelve districts. As punishment for the rebellion of lost district 13, each of the districts must send one boy and one girl to compete in the Hunger Games--a fight to the death, in which only one contestant can remain. The representatives are chosen by lottery, and 16-year-old Katniss has the bravery (or is it?) to volunteer in place of her younger sister Prim, after Prim is selected. The rest of the series consists of the games, death, revolt, and a fight between the government and the districts.


Problem 1: The sacrifice was wrong.
Katniss is lauded among Hunger fans for her heroic sacrifice. After all, Jesus himself said "Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends" (John 15:13). But what Katniss chose to do was an act of weakness and self-reliance. Here's what she should have done (assuming that no parents were around, in which case they should have done it.) Instead of standing up and yelling "I volunteer", She should have stood up for Prim and proclaimed "we will not take part in this godless fight. Prim may not go." By volunteering herself as a substitute, Katniss gave her support to the whole idea of the Hunger Games, and by going, she helped perpetuate the evil system. If Prim had been taken by force, then they would have had the glory of martyrdom standing against a depraved government. No one can force us against our will to do evil. They can only kill us when we refuse.  It is ironic to note that Katniss' act saved Prim's life only temporarily, as Prim dies in book three. Her choice seems a heroic act on the surface, but dig a little deeper, and you'll find that she chose the wrong way out. Katniss bears no resemblance to the  heroism of the Christian martyrs.  If Collins' had truly incorporated a semi-Christian worldview, Katniss would have realized that life bought at the expense of good is poorly bought indeed. Katniss relied on her own smarts, her own strength, and her own sagacity. She walked by sight, not by faith that God could deliver her and her sister. And when we rely upon ourselves, rather than the Lord's power, than our choices turn to tragedy.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.
-Luke 12:4-7


Problem 2: What are they fighting for?
The Hunger Games are held to remind the districts of the consequences of rebelling against the government. Each time a child is entered into the Hunger Games, their family receives the grain that the poverty-stricken districts cannot afford. The winner receives food for their district--and TV interviews, tours, wealth, etc. This idea promotes several things:

1. Survival of the fittest
The Game itself is based upon the evolutionary idea that only the best prevail. I don't know Collins' personal beliefs in this area, but the cruel fight for elimination throughout the series is full of this evolutionary concept.

2. Fighting for food, not principle
I could understand, if not agree with some of the problems up to this points--i.e. Katniss volunteering out of a mistaken sense of duty. But the problem that really causes this series to fall apart is the reason for the Hunger Games. The children ages 12-18 are not fighting for morality, Christianity, overthrow of tyranny, or even undergoing persecution for their faith. They're fighting for food. Really, this conflict sinks the contestants to the level of animals. An animal kills for food and survival. So do the contestants of the Hunger Games.

3. Parents are murderers.
My friends, the horror and tragedy of this series is that 12-18-year-old teens are killing each other. Would you allow someone you know to participate so that you could receive food from their murderers?  The fact that the parents of these teens even entered the children into the lottery makes them murderers, even if the child doesn't get drawn. The adults in this series constantly flunk their duty to protect, forcing their children to take part in an evil game. This sends the idea to young people that they are capable and wise enough to survive on their own. Their parents just won't help.

I could bring out much more: Deceit, revenge, excused theft, inappropriate behavior, the people that Katniss murders in the name of liberty, and the whole unhealthy culture surrounding the movies themselves. But I'm afraid I'll have to make an end for now.  The ultimate thought for The Hunger Games is this:

What could they do, when they had no food to stay alive? They could starve for right rather than live for wrong.

For those of you who would like further reasons on the false morality portrayed in The Hunger Games, Mockingjay, and Catching Fire, I would be happy to give you my thoughts by the email address on the sidebar.

Thank-you for reading. :) It's not often that I'll do something like this, but in this case, I felt the Lord leading me to call other bibliophiles to really see what this series is portraying. I'll admit that at first  I considered looking up this series. I had never heard of it until I found favorable reviews on the blogs of homeschooled, Christian young ladies. By God's grace, I quickly realized that things ran a little deeper than they first appeared. Then when I talked with my parents and some other godly women, I realized the faulty worldview it portrayed--fortunately before I pursued it further. Much of what I have presented today comes from those discussions.

I hope this gives you some food for thought, whether you have read The Hunger Games, or chosen to avoid them. As always, I wish you all the best on your reading journeys. May we never settle for second best in the service of our King. :)

Blessings,
Lady Bibliophile

27 comments:

  1. Dear Sister,
    Wonderful post! Stand for truth!
    Love, Sister

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  2. Thank-you Sister! By God's grace, we both will. :)

    Love and cuddles,
    Sister

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  3. There is certainly a great deal of moral ambiguity in the novels -- but that, I understand, is the point.

    In many ways the moral situation is like slavery in New Testament times. Given an evil system backed up by overwhelming government force, what is the moral action?

    In sacrificing herself for her sister, Katniss is a little like those 1st-century martyrs who sold themselves into slavery to purchase the freedom of another.

    Standing and proclaiming "we will not take part in this godless fight; Prim may not go" is a nice idea, but it would have worked about as well as Spartacus' slave revolt -- it would probably have led to the death of both Katniss and Prim. Taking Prim's place is the only way Katniss can save her sister, and good on her.

    Having volunteered, of course, Katniss is now complicit in an evil system, and in the deaths of the other children that enable her to survive. In this, she resembles a soldier who has (for worthy reasons) volunteered to fight in a war -- but who now finds himself in the middle of an evil atrocity. It is at this point that the most moral action is refusal to participate (death would of course swiftly follow such refusal, which means it is not an easy choice).

    All this would be banal if it wasn't for the fact that the characters are children, who don't usually deal with issues like this (although school bullying comes awfully close to the Hunger Games). The books invite children to ask "what would I do in this situation?" and that is surely a good thing.

    I would hope that readers come away from the books realising that "life bought at the expense of good is poorly bought indeed." Many younger readers, I suspect, will need adult guidance to come to the right conclusions, depending on how much personal experience they've had with large-scale evil.

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    1. You raise some valuable questions, Radagast, and the one in particular about Katniss's bravery, I have responded to below under Ashley's comment, which I invite you to read as well. I split my original answer in half, as both of you raised the same point. :)

      You mentioned: "The books invite children to ask "what would I do in this situation?" and that is surely a good thing." Contemplation of our response in the face of evil is sometimes beneficial--would we stand for truth? would we deny our Lord, or fear Him alone? But such contemplation in The Hunger Games would not be beneficial, merely because there is no conceivable way a child would face this situation. Even if the country existed, such an abdication of parental protection and male leadership would never take place. My parents would never put my name in a lottery for the sake of food, and I doubt most parents--especially Christian ones--would even entertain the thought of such a thing. We will never be in a situation where all the adults refuse to stand up for good--where somehow the children picked up on the value of sacrifice, and the previous generation just never got that concept. Every man in Panem should be dead before this situation is even concievable, having died defending their women and children. The Hunger Games doesn't represent true male headship, parental love, or Christian family. A child should not be contemplating a fictional story that unfairly paints the picture--a choice between greater and lesser evils, rather than between right and wrong.

      Even if, somehow, these objections were laid aside or overcome, along with Katniss's further actions of lying to Peeta,and killing the president of Paynem, her final comment is inconceivable. According to a detiled summary: 'The series ends with Katniss claiming that "there are much worse games to play." '

      I am not trying to attack the people themselves who agree with The Hunger Games. But I am concerned that we are ignoring some pretty big red flags in choices that contradict God's Word. I wish you all blessing as you seek the Lord's will regarding your decision about reading this series.

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    2. There is much in what you say, and I must say I far prefer The Lord of the Rings as a vehicle for discussing morality.

      I am a little surprised, however, at your comment "there is no conceivable way a child would face this situation." I suspect that you only say that because (1) you have two parents, (2) you live in the 21st century, (3) you live in (I assume) a Western country, (4) a war is not being fought in your country, (5) you are home-schooled, and (6) you have had the great blessing of not having serious criminality cross your path. Millions around the world are much less fortunate.

      Those six things have, I guess, shielded you from a world that can get very ugly in places (my first reaction was that the story was a metaphor for school bullying, but then I realised it was broader in scope). In the uglier parts of the world, some very difficult ethical choices have to be made, and the right choice isn't always as obvious as we would like it to be, especially when you are right in the middle of the situation.

      These books are probably aimed at young people who have to deal with the uglier parts of reality, and, imperfect as the books may be, I think they succeed in making young people think about the issues. As I said before, I think that for younger readers they should only be read under adult guidance.

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    3. Hi Radagast,
      I have a couple of points for you to consider. :) God's Word is very clear on his commands for us, regardless of our situation. Morality and truth are not relative to the situation in the situations we face. The difficulty of the decision is great indeed, and makes the decision much harder, but it doesn't negate God's standards, however agonizing the decision may be. It is for such situations as these that God says "My strength is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in your weakness." I sympathize with anyone that would have to chose between an earthly life and God's standards. But in reality, our decision will not affect whether we live or die, no matter how bleak the circumstances, for God alone is the Author of life, and He alone can take it.
      In this whole situation of The Hunger Games, I am reminded of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel. They were probably teenagers, and they faced a decision on whether to bow to the false idol, or to loose their lives. In this case, Katniss has to decide whether to bow to the dictates of an evil government, or to possibly loose her life and her sister's. Daniel 5:16-18 chronicles their response: "Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego replied to him, “King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us[c] from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up. ” And this should have been Katniss' attitude. The decision is agonizing, because we have to stop trusting ourselves, and walk by faith, not by sight. This principle applies no matter the experience, the situation, or the country involved. God's standards apply to everyone, to all of life. There are no greater or lesser degrees of evil. Right and wrong is clear cut. Unfortunately, Collins' takes the power of God out of the picture in her fantasy world.

      You are right when you say that I have never experienced serious criminality first-hand, and I do not lightly say "this is what they should do." I try to base my answers on God's Word, and God's standards. He has the experience that I do not, the knowledge that I lack, and teaches how to handle every situation from the wisdom of the Bible. His word is all we need to make us think about these issues, and I would rather have young people turn to God's Word to find out how to deal with the uglier parts of reality than human wisdom in The Hunger Games.

      God Bless,
      Lady Bibliophile

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  4. While I can see your point on this, I don't agree with it entirely. Well, I agree in the point that yes, the killing was wrong, and all that stuff. But I think reading these books are fine, I even endorse it. It helps us see what the world could be like if we DON'T do those things. And Katniss going in place of her sister wrong? O_O I'm sorry, but I would do that for my sister as well. There is no way a single person couldn've stood and said, "She may not go". They would've taken Prim without a second thought, you would look like an idiot, and very possibly killed/imprisoned yourself. Katniss volenteering for her sister was the best she could do.

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    1. I agree with you, Ashly, that Katniss is right in her wish to save her sister. We should desire to protect our sisters from evil; something I try to do in my own life on a daily basis. Your commitment to love your sister, even to laying down your life for her, is laudible. I don't question Katniss's right intentions here. I think might perhaps point out that Katniss should refuse to participate, once she has saved Prim from having to participate. But we should never volunteer to do evil, even if our real intention is to resist after we have volunteered. There are several ways that the author could (and should) have improved the dilemma, if she were trying to write from a Christian worldview. Katniss could have trusted the Lord for deliverance in a way that she could never think up on her own. God is mighty. He is a miracle worker. And who is Katniss to say that the only two options are to send Prim or to go herself? If she truly relied on the Lord Jesus to deliver her from her enemies, then she would be seeking his guidance. He never "forces" us to choose the appearance of aligning ourselves with an evil system so that good might result. Two wrongs don't make a right. We never do evil so that good might prevail. 2 Chronicles 16 talks about another situation in which a person was faced with two bad choices--King Asa was being attacked by Baasha king of Israel. He had the choice of allowing Baasha to block up his territories so that no one could leave or enter, or he could ally himself with King Ben-Hadad, a godless monarch, and receive help against Baasha. Naturally, he chose the alliance with Ben-Hadad, for the good of his people. But afterwards he found out that he had a third choice, and the only right one--to rely upon the Lord for deliverance. "Were not the Cushites and Libyans a mighty army with great numbers of chariots and horsemen? Yet when you relied on the Lord, he delivered them into your hand. For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war.” (2 Chronicles 16:8-9) The smart thing that Asa chose left the Lord's power completely out of the picture. And so it is with Katniss. And even if she had spoken out, and she and Prim had been killed or imprisoned, then it would have showed that they did not fear those who can only kill the body, but feared the Lord of heaven, who has power over body and soul. Not a hair of our heads can fall to the ground without our Father's consent, even in the face of a seemingly 'all-powerful' government. The question is--who do the characters fear more? The dictates of earthly authorities, or the commands of a Heavenly King? When it comes down to it, I would rather encourage my sister in the Lord as we perished together for right, and pray for God's deliverance, rather than set her the example that God's principles are sacrificed for our mortal time on earth. I would certainly cry out to God that she might be spared, and used all the wisdom He has given me to help her escape. I don't know the author of this quote, but "God's will, done in God's way, has God's supply." And He always delivers his persecuted people without their having to compromise.

      I know that my fellow sisters in Chirst desire to follow the Lord Jesus in the way that they read. And when I point out the Scriptural prinicples violated in The Hunger Games, I am not putting down those that endorse them--they are my fellow bibliophiles in Chirst, and I seek to hold them in all comradely esteem. But I do earnestly pray that each of us might consider carefully what we read ourselves, and what we encourage others to read. I am sure that you do hold that thought in consideration, and I wish you all blessings as God leads you regarding The Hunger Games.

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  5. Thank you for this. I've got a post drafted about moral degeneration in popular literature (The Childmurder Games merely continues a trend started in Harry Potter and Twilight, I believe, a trend which is already firmly entrenched in acclaimed adult fiction) but I decided to keep it for a future Feature Week. I too am distressed by the fact that even Christian people are swallowing this tripe. I'll never forget that church was the first place I ever heard about the vile and grotesque Millenium Trilogy by Steig Larssen, which appears to be The Situation Ethics Games for people with more tolerance for ugliness.

    This is, by the way, an excellent post addressing some of the issues with The We Obviously Have Never Thought Through the Ramifications of the Sixth Commandment Games. I've read a very detailed synopsis of the first book and those didn't immediately occur to me--I noticed the problematic nature of the author's complete lack of a clue about what should be done in such a situation. Ie, she doesn't know if or when it would be right to kill someone. She behaves like killing someone is the ultimate evil (and it is, if there is no divine justice awaiting us after death)--and so even when her characters kill in self-defence they have no idea whether they're doing the right thing or not, and try to rationalise it: "Oh, I just dropped a nest of death hornets on a bunch of sleeping people. Sure, some of them died, but I didn't really kill them."

    But Douglas Wilson says it better than I ever could.

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    1. Situational ethincs--very good point, and I never thought to use it. It's my favorite term to use when I'm pointing out a character's faulty choice, be it The Hunger Games or even older works. :) I would love to see your articles on this topic. I, too, was appalled with the very brief synopsis' of the trilogy that I read--Katniss is excused for seeking to kill Paynem's president, even thought she does so out of a spirit of revenge. She pretends to love her fellow-lottery draw--excused as a "white lie" for the sake of their life-- she contemplates commiting suicide, and that's only a small sampling. I am beginning to wonder if Paynem does have a religious system, or if it's man-centered worship. Your alternate titles were very clever. :)

      As a P.S., I was able to listen to your interview on the radio--you expressed the homeschooling mission so beautifully, and it was a real treat to hear. :)

      Thanks so much for the Douglas Wilson link--I will read it as soon as I have a moment to spare. :)

      Blessings,
      Schuyler

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    2. Glad you liked my interview! I'm so thrilled to have had the chance to talk about it on national radio. :o

      Wilson's article is well worth reading.

      I was interested in The Hunger Games when I first heard of them but only because I thought, "What a great storyline to use to discuss the ethics of murder and self-defence! I can't wait to see how the main characters defy their evil overlords!" I was...somewhat disappointed to find that far from defying their evil overlords at the point where they are expected to render bloodsport tribute to the game masters--that is, early in Book 1, not somewhere in the second or third volume--the characters simply and simple-mindedly go about killing people.

      And what about Rue? Katniss gets all outraged when someone else kills her, but never thought about the fact that she was teaming up with someone she'd ultimately have to kill herself? Please!

      A friend suggested that I should write the the story that The Moral Cotton Wool Games should have been, but the concept is trademarked. :(

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  6. It seems as though you perhaps don't quite understands all of the particulars of the story. You made a point about parents being murderers - this isn't the case. The parents are forced to make their children participate, there was this other district: District 13, that was "wiped out" for rebelling (even though it wasn't completely destroyed...as we find out later), which makes the people live in fear. Katniss's father is dead, as is Gale's. Peeta's parents just don't seem to care as much. The point I am making is that these people have been oppressed for so long that they don't know any different. Kind of like North Korea. There is a faint glimmer of hope that someday they might escape, but most of them just go along with it, living in constant fear and fighting for survival. So I don't think it's fair to say that all of the parents are murderers. Some, from the other districts have that mindset, but not those from district 12. I think that the overall problem with these books is the age group that is reading them. Most of the kids who love the story are far too young to process the adult themes and graphic violence that frequent it's pages.

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    1. Hello!
      I know that it seems harsh to use the word "murderers". I understand that such a blatant way of expressing it is uncomfortable, and I did not choose that lightly. :) But you mentioned a couple of things that I would like to clarify.

      1. "The parents are forced to make their children participate."
      I understand that this is a lottery system, where the child is automatically entered. This shows how false Collins' fantasy world is; because of the way God has designed law, and because of His sovereignty, we will never be in a situation in which we are "forced" to do something wrong without a choice being involved. The parents in each of these districts have to make several choices down the line: whether or not to speak openly against the system, whether or not to allow their children to participate, and whether or not they will die to defend right. In a real situation, there is always a clear contrast between the right choice, and the wrong choice. The right choice may not be the easy one, but it is clearly visible as the only biblical solution. The fact that Collins' created a world in which the parents don't have the option of doing right should be a clear indication of its faulty ethics and morality.

      2. "The people have been oppressed for so long that they don't know any different."
      Even in North Korea, the Lord does not excuse the citizens from going along with sin.

      "For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes – his eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, because they are understood through what has been made. So people are without excuse." -Romans 1:20

      Even where the government is so oppressive that people are without the Word of God, God has still revealed His divine nature and law so that they are clearly seen. His law is indestructible, no matter the evil, so we can never be in a situation where we don't know any different. God has given us a conscience, which knows right and wrong no matter how outwardly oppressed we are. The citizens of Panem are doubly responsible--if this were a real situation--because no matter what the time, the nation, or the religious situation, God has revealed His law in a way that is clearly seen. His Word--and therefore his law endures forever. Therefore, such commandments as "Thou shalt not murder" will be around even after America is gone. The parents and the children in The Hunger Games are not hopeless, for Christ is our hope, and if they were trusting in Him for deliverance, then their choices and outcome would be much different.

      God's Word says that parents are responsible to train their children, to protect them, and to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Peeta's parents evidently aren't training him up according to biblical morality, and Katniss's mother has abdicated her responsibility. Therefore, they would have to account before God for the evil results of this neglect, and if murder was one of these results (as it is in Katniss's case) then they would be accounting to God for it. The parents in The Hunger Games are not speaking up, acting against, or in some cases, concerned with what their children are in bondage to. Therefore, those who didn't speak up or act were responsible in part for every single murder committed during the games.

      You are definitely right when you say that the children loving the story aren't processing the themes that Collins' is portraying. I would take that a little further, and say that many readers are not accepting the implications of the novels to the Bible-believing Christian. :)

      Blessings,
      Lady Bibliophile

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  7. Not arguing with your overall points, but just a couple comments...

    1. The lottery isn't "in order to get food," (although you can put your name in more times for food, which Katniss, not her parents, did to keep her family alive). It's mandatory. If you're alive and of a certain age, your name is there. No choice in the matter.

    2. The line at the end of the books, in context, means the opposite of what you referred to above. Here's the whole quote: http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/302599

    3. Re. Problem #2, you are exactly right and I think Suzanne Collins quite agrees with you ;) The Games are never, ever portrayed in a positive light.

    I respect your decision not to read the books, that's fully your prerogative, but I highly suggest reading them before writing about them :) Personally, although I don't agree with everything in them, I found them thought-provoking, and thought they provided an excellent and honest picture of a world without Christ--even more so than Suzanne Collins intended, in some ways.

    Longtime lurker here, btw. I much enjoy your articles and book reviews, just seldom have any thoughts worth posting ;) (And it amuses me that this topic is THE hot-button one that has brought on so many comments, haha.) Hi!

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  8. Hello! It's so nice to "meet" you. :) You raise some very good points, and I would like to elaborate upon them a little further.
    1. Katniss' entering her name so that her family could receive food shows that she is concerned for their well-being, and desiring to help in some way. Unfortunately, her decision shows no trust in God. Psalm 37:25-28 says

    I was young and now I am old,
    yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken
    or their children begging bread.
    They are always generous and lend freely;
    their children will be a blessing.


    Turn from evil and do good;
    then you will dwell in the land forever.
    For the Lord loves the just
    and will not forsake his faithful ones.

    The Lord never forsakes his righteous remnant, even in the face of an evil government. It is his power to direct the hearts on monarchs, and He alone has full control. Katniss doesn't seem to trust in His sovereignty, but makes her decisions based upon the idea that there is no ideal option. But there is the right way to react, and the wrong way, and the right way always involves fearing the Lord and trusting Him rather than fearing man.

    2. Thank-you for the correction. The Wikipedia information placed this quote out of context, and I am glad to be corrected, as I was appalled that such indifference to the game should be portrayed.

    I appreciate your desire that I should be accurate in my reviews. I believe that it is not necessary to read the book to be able to make an informed opinion on them--especially since these books in particular have been so widely publicized. For instance, I don't have to read Twilight to know that it's wrong, and the same holds true with The Hunger Games. I'm simply evaluating based upon the light of Scripture. We are responsible as Christians to judge the book by its "cover" first--in this case the synopsis, etc. And if the fire is burning, then I don't have to burn myself to prove that it's hot. The same holds true with The Hunger Games--I am concerned that people feel that they have to "touch" it to know whether it's right or wrong. They do provide a picture of a world without Christ--but how can that be honest, when the world will never be without Christ? Our call as Christians is to make sure that we are evangelizing and teaching, on our guard against compromise and calling evil what it is, so that the world will increase in its knowledge of Christ. He is sovereign, He is in control over every country and person, whether they acknowledge Him or not, and our goal is to make sure we're as far from the cliff-edge as possible, not playing along its brink.

    I'm glad you're enjoying the reviews. :) Thanks for stopping by!

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    1. "They do provide a picture of a world without Christ--but how can that be honest, when the world will never be without Christ?"

      Oops, yeah, you're right. I'll rephrase: a post-Christian world, or a world that has completely rejected Christ. Honest because it shows the consequences of that rejection.

      Thanks for your kind and articulate reply, it def. made me think :)

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  9. Refreshing review. :) You have some very good points! Problem 1 and Problem 2 point 1 really stood out to me as important "details". Thanks for taking the time to write the review and all the responses! God bless, Daragh

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    1. Thank-YOU Daragh, for stopping by. :) I'm glad that you found it thought-provoking, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the posts!

      Blessings,
      Schuyler

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  10. Greetings, Bibliophiles! : ) I have a few prayerful thoughts to offer to your discussion.

    1 Corinthians chapters 8-10 address the issue of believers with differing convictions. The Lord is clear that there will always be brothers and sisters whose consciences lead them down different paths than ours. He also commands us to be chiefly interested not in these issues but in His glory and the welfare of His people. The importance of a clear conscience before God and peace with our fellow-laborers trumps smaller disagreements. Therefore the goal of all our reading, writing, and discussing should be to love God and His people.

    Many of you seem to have found things to appreciate in the Hunger Games series. The sacrifice (as one example) is a recurring topic. It is perfectly natural that we are moved by sacrifice in books, especially because it echoes the Great Sacrifice (John 15:13) which is so dear to us. The degree to which a story reflects Christ’s story is often the degree to which it is compelling, even for unbelievers. But the question we are considering now is larger than one specific character or incident. The main thrust of Lady B.’s post (correct me if I am wrong, my lady) was not “did Katniss do right or wrong in a given situation” but “should these books be in the literary diet of a Christian young lady”.

    It is wise and healthy to ask questions when evaluating your reading (speaking generally). What is the purpose of this book? How will reading it refresh me, educate me, or build me up in the work of the Lord? Which of my spiritual and fleshly appetites am I feeding by reading this? Even if this book is not harmful, is it the Lord’s will for me to spend time reading it? “’All things are lawful,’ but not all things are helpful. ‘All things are lawful,’ but not all things build up.” (1 Cor. 10:23) Many books which are enjoyable and even “clean” are covertly dangerous because the author’s worldview twists the truth. On the flip side, there are books in which we may share the author’s conclusions, but the subject matter presents evil in a way that contaminates, compromises, or desensitizes us. Either danger can easily slip in under our radar. Yet if we faithfully and earnestly run to God for wisdom, He is ready to answer. Our Lord is loving and gracious, and He desires our good and His glory far more than we do.

    As far as this particular series goes, I honestly think Lady Bibliophile’s cautions are right. At the least, the content of these books is dark; and many Christians’ reasons for being attached to them do not seem to stem from a hunger for truth and goodness but from other appetites, mainly ones that should not be cultivated. Ask yourself honestly, "Why am I reading this?"

    Obviously not every person must come to my conclusions to be right with God, but I urge you all to make sure you are right with God, whichever choice you make. Christ must be Lord of all our minds and hearts, and we must take our thoughts captive to His obedience. If we do this, our reading will be done with a clean conscience and a pure heart, and our discussions with other Christian book-lovers will be happily free from defensiveness, fear, or a judgmental spirit.

    Thank you, Lady B., for all your thoughtful reviews, and many thanks to everyone else for your comments!

    Humbly and gratefully in Christ,
    The Philologist ; )

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    1. Dear Philologist,

      So beautifully put, and spot-on. :) May Christ's glory be our sole aim, and His standards be our guide. I appreciated your insight.

      Blessings!
      Schuyler

      P.S. Tell E.H. that a friend of the Dallas may have some news regarding his latest exploits in a day or two. :)

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  11. Hello,
    I read this post 3 times and think that your emphasis on Katniss trusting God is slightly preposterous. There is no God, or even a God figure, in the trilogy. How is she to stand and say " we will not take part in this godless fight" if there is no god in the picture?

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    1. Hi! I appreciate you stopping by, and joining the discussion. :) I am happy to address it, though I do have a quick request before I begin. Since this is a point on which we obviously have differing opinions, I would be grateful if you left some kind of initials/penname/blog link to identify yourself. (I have this request on my comment policy, but it is not yet clearly visible on the blog, so I decided to post your comment anyway and respond to it.) Thanks very much!

      You said that there is no God figure in the trilogy. Actually, it may be a little hard to pinpoint, but there is.

      The 'god' of the Hunger Games is man.

      Katniss decides what's right. She uses her own strength and smarts and sense of right and wrong to determine how she should act. And therefore, she and all the other people making their own decisions, are god, according to Suzanne Collins' worldview.

      The problem is, this book, by removing God, manipulates standards of logic and morality. Every universe, if it follows a logical and Biblical model, must have a God-figure and a moral system. For instance, you might say it is wrong to kill good people. According to whom? If there is no God, then there is no ultimate standard, and therefore, no reason to value life. Why should Katniss live, and the president of Paynem should die? Since there is no ultimate standard, he has just as much a right to force his agenda as she does.

      Either there is a supreme, eternal, and infinite Creator ruling the universe, or we are mere products of chance, left to live our lives as we see fit. If there is a Creator, then it is wrong to write a book in which we do not acknowledge the system he has put in place. We cannot endorse a book containing a world without a God when we are following Christian principles of reading and living. When we remove God from the picture, we fall back on our own wisdom, sense of right, and personal agenda. And that is a very dangerous thing, because we are sinful and fallible and have no sense of right inside ourselves.

      I don't know whether or not you know Christ and follow a biblical worldview, but if you do, I would challenge you that reading a book where the author so manipulates her world as to remove all Christian references is a dangerous minefield. The goal of reading is to know Christ. And Collins has so obviously removed all Christian foundations, that Christ's ultimate authority cannot be read into this story whatsoever.

      When man is god in a book, as is true in the Hunger Games, then there are no longer absolutes.
      But the Hunger Games is fiction, and therefore got something fundamentally wrong. Man isn't god. There is a God, the God of the Bible, who has created every one of us, and since my desire is to honor and obey him, I must require the books I read to obey the standards He has set forth. :)

      How can Katniss refuse to take part in a godless fight? Well, she can't refuse to violate the God of the Bible if He has been removed from this world. You're absolutely right. But this goes to prove that Collins has warped reality by removing God, turned man into the ultimate authority, and violated every core principle that a Christian reader should hold fast to.

      http://www.answersingenesis.org/assets/pdf/radio/reallyagod.pdf

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  12. I think you're flying right past the problem of the lack of God in the books. Suzanne Collins is a practicing Catholic and has hinted that the atheistic culture she created in Panem is what ultimately led to the lack of morals and breakdown in a society that condones the killing of children for sport. In the absence of God and any ultimate truth and reality, a culture can do whatever it likes.

    You might do well to read some of Collins' interviews about her inspiration for the story and the messages she wants to get across through her books.

    "One night, I was lying in bed, and I was channel surfing between reality TV programs and actual war coverage. On one channel, there’s a group of young people competing for I don’t even know; and on the next, there’s a group of young people fighting in an actual war. I was really tired, and the lines between these stories started to blur in a very unsettling way. That’s the moment when Katniss’s story came to me."

    "... I worry that we’re all getting a little desensitized to the images on our televisions. If you’re watching a sitcom, that’s fine. But if there’s a real-life tragedy unfolding, you should not be thinking of yourself as an audience member. Because those are real people on the screen, and they’re not going away when the commercials start to roll."

    "So, in the case of the Hunger Games, issues like the vast discrepancy of wealth, the power of television and how it's used to influence our lives, the possibility that the government could use hunger as a weapon, and then first and foremost to me, the issue of war."

    Saying that Collins condones murder and war and evil governments is like saying C.S. Lewis believed that Jesus was a talking lion and angels live on Mars.

    I would not expect a review about the Bible from an atheist who never read it to be worth 2 seconds' read. Perhaps it is not wise make blanket statements on things of which we have no knowledge.

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  13. Hi Catherine!
    Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I always welcome the accountability of discussion, as I certainly wouldn't want to be wrongly dogmatic on any issue I bring up here. In my article, I'm trying to raise concerns with what I'm observing about this Hunger Games trend from an observer's perspective. I think observers can have some valuable input, being removed from the situation, and much of what I put in my post was wise counsel from other older women, and discussion with my parents.
    Perhaps in my above comment I should have clarified with the statement '*if* there is no God in the Hunger Games, *then* the god is man'. I was basing my reply on the former commenter's statement that there was no God, and telling them what was biblically wrong with that if that is the case in the series. So I hope that clarifies where I was coming from there. :)
    You say that Collins is a practicing Catholic. While I say this respectfully, as I have a warm appreciation for Catholic literature, just because someone is Catholic doesn't automatically mean that they are going to create sound Christian literature. The same goes for Baptists and Presbyterians, and any other label. I've read plenty of literature by Christian authors that is neither right nor biblical. Again, I don't say that Collins didn't have good intentions or pure motives--but I think she could have done better. She didn't offer a biblical solution in her fiction for the problem she created, and introduced too many other problems along the way that people seem to be glossing over.
    An atheistic culture on earth will always contain a remnant of scattered believers that remain true to the teachings of God's Word, just like in the time of Elijah when there were 7,000 that had not bowed the knee to Baal. Does the Hunger Games trilogy have a remnant like this? I know there are 'good guys' vs. 'bad guys', but frankly the good guys are acting up to a faulty moral system just like the bad guys are, though certainly not the same faults. The good guys base their actions on what the culture is forcing them to do rather than taking dominion and being on the offensive. Not all books have characters make a Christian response right away, I fully acknowledge that. But, you having read the books would probably know, does Katniss ever realize all the wrong things she's done and not just regret them, but repent of them as well? That's biblical resolution for fiction, and if Collins is coming from a biblical perspective, then her books should showcase that.
    As a side note, I am concerned that Collins' original concern for desensitizing television gets turned into movies that seems to be putting those same desensitizing images on screen. Yes, they're supposed to be revolting. No, I'm not saying no-one should see them. But we don't need to see evil for it to grieve and shock us. We don't need to read about horrible violence for it to sharpen our distaste for us. That work is done by the Holy Spirit in our hearts, giving us a love for what is good and a hate for what is evil, not by The Hunger Games or any other book. Collins could have sent her message in a much less graphic manner, and achieved the same effect. But I'm not going to base the foundation of my argument on the movies. I have seen violence used in an effective and clear-cut manner, and I haven't seen the movies, so I can't comment. I'm just marking a seeming inconsistency there.
    (continued below)

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  14. I don't say that Collins condones murder and evil governments and war. But her book is certainly inadvertently teaching these lessons, turning them into entertainment for the majority of her readers, whether or not she wanted that effect. We must face the fact that many of the readers inhaling these books aren't taking them on a thinking or a discerning level. I've read quite a few reviews, and the majority of what I see is that "the violence isn't too bad" followed by fangirling over Katniss and Peeta. Certainly not every reader is reacting this way; there are many discerning readers picking up these books. But the majority are not being discerning, or at least not showing it, and I think Collins has done more damage with her books than benefit, without ever intending to. This is not completely her fault. A good deal of the blame rests with the audience.
    An author may understand the problems with their world and characters very well, but that doesn't necessarily equate that the reader will. If Collins deliberately chose to use a bad world and bad characters, then she bears a heavy responsibility to make sure that her readers will understand the gap. Any author who wants their book to expose evil must also present an alternative. Good must triumph or evil (all violation of God's Law, not just the 'bad guys') must be judged, for God always triumphs. And the good that triumphs in the Hunger Games is a twisted and faulty good. Good in this book triumphs by the might and strength of man, instead of the might and strength of a higher power enabling them. And that is sending off a wrong message--that we can rely on the wisdom of the masses and the strength of man alone to overthrow evil.
    You say that criticizing Collins is the same as criticizing Lewis. But Collins and Lewis wrote in two completely different genres. Comparing the two is like comparing apples to oranges. And an atheist reviewing the Bible is not the same thing as a Christian questioning whether or not a fiction book is biblical. I merely ask the question--is the Hunger Games biblically grounded, whether or not it is openly Christian? Is it fruitful for Christians to read, or are Christians surgically inserting their biblical worldview into it, to excuse the reading of it?
    I don't claim to know every detail about the Hunger Games, but I do assure you that I researched extensively and I did not lightly throw this post out there. If I am in error than I am certainly sorry for it, for I do not want to spread error. But I think it is sometimes permissible and beneficial for Christians to comment on current trends without having to join in on the bandwagon.
    Again, thank-you for stopping by, Catherine! I really appreciated your comment, and in my reply, I tried to give a little further explanation of my reasoning. Whether or not you agree, I do hope that you see that I am trying to look at this from the light of Scripture, and that should bring Christians together, even if we disagree on the application. :)

    ~Schuyler

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  15. Good blog post. Absolutely, the Hunger Games don't portray a Christian worldview. However, that's kind of the point. Suzanne Collins wanted to show the horrible consequences of the worldview our culture is adopting. At the end of The Mockingjay, I was expecting a climactic battle between good and evil. Instead, however, the "good guys" do the same evil things that the "bad guys" are doing, and you realize there are no good guys or bad guys. Just humans. And in the book, Collins explicitly points to Darwinism as the basis for all this. At one point, Katniss dithers about some questionable things her friends are doing, then thinks, "I guess there's no rule book for what human beings can do to each other." To me, it seems that Collins is clearly waving her hands and saying, "Hey America, you realize these are the consequences of what you're believing." Also, the Capitol is a clear parody and critique of the US. As for Katniss herself, the character and the reader come to realize that she is not really a shining hero but "evil and manipulative" - that's what Katniss herself says. She knows she isn't noble - and in the end, she's just another traumatized war victim.
    In the brief author bio inside the books, Collins says that she was deeply affected by hearing about the atrocities committed in wars, and wanted to make people more aware of these problems. Her obvious goal was to shock people with the content in her books, not to entertain them. But, of course, most American teens are too unperceptive to realize that.
    Just a couple other points: If Katniss had declared that Prim couldn't participate in the Hunger Games, the Peacekeepers would have laughed and dragged her sister off anyway. Probably the most effective and Christian thing to do would have been for her to volunteer, use her fame as a platform to speak out against the injustice, then resign herself to dying in the games. Also, all the children's names were entered in the Reaping anyway, whether or not the parents entered them extra times for more food.
    So basically, I thought your main points about the book were more or less accurate, but Collins did not intend for people to react to her books the way they have. I don't know whether she is a Christian or not - I don't necessarily think so, nor do I think Christians should necessarily read the books. In the end, Collins does a wonderful job of portraying the consequences of the worldview that's already prevalent in our culture ANYWAY - she just doesn't present the wonderful solution we Christians know of.

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    1. Hello! Thank-you so much for commenting; I was blessed by your words, and enjoyed reading your perspective. :D

      You know, some of the concepts of the Hunger Games are really intriguing, and could have been used for so much good. But you have to be clear-cut with a story like that, and it sounds like that's where it crumbles.

      I appreciate you stopping by!

      ~Schuyler

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