Friday, April 20, 2012

The Hunger Games

I’ve just read ‘The Hunger Games,’ the first part in The Hunger Games trilogy.

Pitched at young/teen readers, here in the UK the target-audience is now three generations removed from the church (the USA, where the trilogy was written, is behind us in this, but heading in the same direction).  My contention is that:

the very universe God created insists that the Story that is centred on Jesus is told, even where familiarity with the biblical story – and, indeed, subsequent church history – is absent;

and that therefore it is no surprise that popular culture is full-to-bursting with fragments of the Story (consider, for example, Dr Who; or the major story arc of the Harry Potter series, which – quite apart from Harry Potter laying down his life to defeat evil, and receiving it back again – is concerned with the deceiving of Severus Snape by Voldemort, and his subsequent redemption through the loving actions of Albus Dumbledore);

and that if we are to engage in Christ-centred mission to my children’s peers, we need to enter-into the stories they are told and tell, affirming the fragments, and building bridges from the testimony they carry to Jesus.

‘The Hunger Games’ is full of echoes of the Story.  Perhaps one of the less familiar, but to my mind most striking, is the motif of bread as strategy of control and tactic of subversion.  I don’t intend to offer a synopsis of the plot, but read – or re-read – the book with an eye out for the role grain/bread plays as both strategic means of exercising control, through a balance of bribe and threat; and in inspirational, guerrilla, tactical acts of flaunting independence of spirit, and exposing injustice and shaming the oppressor.  And compare this with the way in which early Christians engaged in bread-focused tactics of subversion to counter the claim of the emperor to be their Lord and provider; the demonstration – both symbolic and concrete – that Jesus is a very different kind of Lord, and true provider...

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