Well, I recently finished reading the Hunger Games books by Susan Collins, and I have some thoughts.
Not thoughts on the characters or the plot, necessarily - although I could go that route, far better writers than me have already done so. No, my thoughts are more on the moral vision of the Hunger Games universe. Is it Christian, or anti-Christian?
I think the answer is: neither. It's pre-Christian. In other words, it's pagan.
To be clear: I'm using the word "pagan" quite literally; in the sense that Socrates or Buddha were pagan. This isn't necessarily a bad thing in itself. I read and enjoyed all three books (at least the first two. MockingJay was pretty awful). But when I was reading them, I kept searching for any trace of Christian morality and found none. Again, this doesn't mean the books are bad. Reading them only made me appreciate Christianity - or, more importantly, Christ- all the more.
In the Hunger Games universe, which purports to take place in some post-apocalyptic future, it's clear that Christianity hasn't died out; Christianity never existed. The Hunger Games universe is a Godless, unbaptized universe; and this is part of the reason why it's such a melancholy one.
For example: the principal plot of the books, as anyone who knows anything about them already knows, is a gladiator combat between kids for entertainment - a form of human sacrifice, if you will.
This particular sin is a uniquely pagan one. The ancient Romans did it.
|Pictured: the ORIGINAL hunger games.|
I'm not claiming that Christian civilizations haven't sinned - they have. And post-Christian civilizations - like Nazi Germany and Communist Russia - have sinned even more spectacularly. But no one since Christ has thought of murdering human beings for entertainment. Why?
It's because Judaism and Christianity view human life as sacred, since human beings are created in the image and likeness of God. (Genesis 1:27). This truth has permeated all of Christian civilization, and still remains even in post-Christian civilization. Think about it: before the Nazis killed the Jews, they tried to dehumanize them - to tell themselves a lie, to claim that Jews "aren't really human". Even the Nazi's couldn't face the idea of murdering other human beings. The same is true for all the great murders that take place - people always deny the humanity of the ones they're killing.
What does this mean? Does it mean Christians shouldn't read the Hunger Games? NO. At least not for this reason. If we're forbidden from reading non-Christian literature, that would rule out a lot of good stuff, like the Iliad, Odyssey for example.
In fact, I think we Christians can learn a lot from the Hunger Games; and we can use them to teach others how great Christianity is. If you ever talk to somebody who says "the world would be better without all these stupid religions and religious people," just ask them if they've ever read the Hunger Games. 'Cause that's what the world would be like without Jesus. That's what it was like.
|ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED? No? Good. Cause, you know, the guy whose head I just chopped off was made in God's image, so we really shouldn't be clapping about it...|
|"Trust me: you don't want to live in Panem."|