Friday, April 27, 2012

thoughts on "the hunger games" as a spiritual exerience

the first time i heard about the hunger games, i remember thinking that the concept sounded extremely weird and scary.  how could it be entertaining to read about children killing each other?

i finished reading "the hunger games" trilogy this week, after only a week and a half of reading... that is really fast for me!  needless to say, i really enjoyed the books.  it really got my mind working, especially impacting my faith, so i wanted to share some of my thoughts about it.  i wont give away any major parts of the series (in case you haven't read it and plan to!), but i will just speak to the broader themes and ideas that i observed.

1. its not a perfect ending or a hollywood ending.  but its realistic, and i appreciate that.

2. i cried at the end of the last book (which is actually pretty amazing because i haven't cried in almost a year! i think last time was the day we took the kids back to their mom).  not because it is particularly sad, but because it ends without much hope.  well, i guess some would say that there is hope at the end of the book, but i would say that there is not any real hope.

3. reading them made me thankful that i have real hope: confident assurance that God will right all of the wrongs in the world, that each person will be accountable for the sin they commit.  the end of this book has no hope for real change, and i am glad to have such a hope.

4.  for the first book, i was on team gale.  but for the second and third books i joined team peeta.  no comment on what may or may not happen at the end :) i'm not into mushy love stories, and i appreciated that the love story side of the books was not overpowering, but added just the right amount of extra flavor.

5.  something i really like about peeta's character: he embodies sacrificial love.  there never seems to be any selfish motives in his love for katniss, and he does everything he can to serve her.  he is a refreshing picture (though certainly only a shadow) of jesus' love for his bride, the church.  jesus lovingly laid down his life without selfishness, and continually seeks to do good for his beloved.

6.  katniss' decision to volunteer for her sister was also a cool picture of what jesus has done: taken our place for a death sentence.  once again, this is merely a shadow as jesus was perfect and didn't deserve to die, but it is a helpful framework to begin to understand the magnitude of his sacrifice.

7.  these books make it clear that there is no perfect form of government, because every form of government is corrupted by people's selfishness and sin (though there may be some forms of government that are better than others).  government cannot save us, only jesus can save.

8.  reading these books made me thankful for my years of studying latin and roman history.

9.  i really enjoyed katniss' character and i felt like i could relate to her.  i really appreciated getting to see into her mind (one of the ways that i liked the book better than the movie), seeing her have to sort through different hard decisions, and her reactions to different situations.  she often had mixed motives and ambivalent desires, and the complexity of her character i found to be very realistic.

10.  i'm not sure if this was the author's intention, but i found the descriptions of the hunger games and war scenes to remind me a lot about what american soldiers abroad are facing daily.  katniss herself (and several other characters) seem to suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries, two conditions many iraqi war veterans are experiencing.  it is not a pleasant picture (which is why we need to end these wars and stop war-mongering with iran... but that is another post for another day...).

those are just some random thoughts.

have you read hunger games?  how did it impact you?


  1. Huge fan of the books... It's probably an addiction by now. Glad to see you enjoyed them.

    I agree with you; the overwhelming emotional response I got is hopelessness, if man is nothing but material. Katniss survives for no reason greater than animal instinct. She never embraces any concept of transcendence which gives real value to life, even as she fought so hard to preserve life and became so burdened in failure.

    Thus, Peeta's innumerable gifts to her, she sees as debts, and not acts of mercy, love. And when people precious to her die, their person fades into the shadowy ether, ceasing to be, except in her memory (reflected in her efforts to record those sorely-missed moments at the end of Mockingjay). How depressing! She too will be forgotten and her book of memories lost forever... Except there is One who never forgets, One whose sacrifice doesn't fail or find a limit.

    1. thanks for sharing your thoughts, joe! i agree about katniss' lack of ability to accept mercy... it was almost painful to read that she absolutely could not accept a gift without feeling a huge debt to the giver.

      i guess it parallels why many people reject jesus' gift... they want to earn it and its hard to realize we do not and cannot deserve it.

  2. I just finished the trilogy tonight, and I have to say I appreciated the non "happily-ever-after" ending to the story! It was very realistic in how war veterans are never the same after the harsh experiences they face. I definitely felt my heart go out to Peeta after his rescue from the capital, and Katniss' realization that he may never be the same. It's heartbreaking but true because some scars never do heal.

    I agree that Peeta's sacrificial love is a mere shadow of Jesus, but I can see a similarity in how he never gave up on being there for Katniss, and how Jesus never gives up on us.

    I do have to say that I was a bit disappointed that the movie did not reflect the true emotion of the book. The tension between Katniss and Haymitch, or even the so-called "love triangle" was not portrayed as well as the book described. That is why I try to separate the story that the book portrays and the interpretation of the movie.

    Overall, it was a good series. Something that made you think about how we view our life, and how much we depend on God to clear us from our skewed vision.