Here are a podcast and notes on The Hunger Games (15 minutes).

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Suzanne Collins' trilogy

  • The Hunger Games
  • Catching Fire
  • Mockingjay

About Panem

  • Panis et circenses (Latin for bread and circuses), coined by Juvenal, c.100 AD. Note: circuses refer to (extremely violent) chariot races, gladiatorial spectacles, and so forth. Iam pridem, ex quo suffragia nulli uendimus, effudit curas; nam qui dabat olim imperium, fasces, legiones, omnia, nunc se continet atque duas tantum res anxius optat, panem et circenses (Satire 10.77–81).
  • The parallel between Panem and the ancient Roman Empire, which controlled the masses through bread and circuses, is thus made explicit.
  • Protagonist: Katniss Everdeen. Antagonist: President Snow.

10 Biblical themes

  • Freedom
  • Peace. This is the way of the Lord, not war. What sort of society finds violence amusing?
  • Hope
  • Vanity: the shallowness of the masses, as well as of the powers-that-be. This is biblical: truth exposes the manipulation, hypocrisy, and self-interest of human power structures.
  • Social justice
  • Compassion: action, not just feeling.
  • Sacrificial love (Katniss takes the place of her sister Prim).
  • Leadership (though the protagonist is more of a Moses figure than a Christ figure)
  • The need to be engaged, not withdrawing emotionally but staying in the fight.
  • Minor biblical allusions (e.g. twelve districts, or thirteen minus one)

Mini-article in Christianity Today (Christ in the Hunger Games, September 2012, p.86)

"When The Hunger Games released to theaters in March, many dismissed it--and the popular book trilogy before it--as a grisly story about "kids killing kids." But the books, and the film... are so much more. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the stories are a scathing--but engaging--social commentary,decrying not only violence but human trafficking, totalitarianism, and the unchecked power of evil. But there's also sacrificial love, mercy, hope, and redemption.

"For Christians, there are biblical parallels, especially in Peeta Mellark, a key character who consistently displays unconditional love; he's even willing to die for a friend. A baker's son, a young Peeta risks his well-being to give a starving girl the gift of bread. Later, as a teen, he risks his life to save the one he loves. In one scene, he takes a wound that was meant for another, then "buries" himself in the ground to hide. Three days later--imagery alert!--Peeta emerges from a cave with renewed vigor and hope. The film is rich with discussion fodder for discerning families with older children." --Mark Moring, CT senior associate editor

An anti-war piece?

  • War is not glorified; death is tragic, people count. One can make a strong case that The Hunger Games is an anti-war polemic.
  • "I [Katniss] no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings... Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children's lives to settle its differences. You can spin it anyway you like.... But in the end, who does it benefit? No one. The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen."—Mockingjay, p. 377.

Why you should watch/read The Hunger Games

  • To understand what younger people are being exposed to. This is vital if you work with youth ministry, or are a parent or grandparent. With 26 million copies in print (as of May 2013), how can we afford to ignore it?
  • It's an easy conversation starter for evangelism.
  • It's captivating, and the message is worth thinking about.