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.
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.
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. :)