As a late-comer to the Games, I confess that I am slow to follow hype. Yet, it may be that Hunger Games is not hype, it simply is demanding an audience. Protesters in Thailand are being arrested for using the 3-fingered salute of the poor people in Panem. Once I found this out, I had to learn more.
Amazon has ranked Suzanne Collins, the author of Hunger Games, as the best selling Kindle author of all-time. Her story is pounding a nerve with people all around the globe. But what does this have to do with my Christian walk? Lots.
But first, let’s step back.
The Apostle Paul quoted pagan poets. Though speculative, he may also have been familiar with the writings of Plato. To be sure, Paul was keenly aware of the popular ideas and sentiments, Stoicism and Epicureanism as recorded in the book of Acts. So what?
Here’s what. Paul, to some degree or another, had to have an understanding of the prevailing intellectual and emotional climate. And now, thanks to The Hunger Games, so do I.
There has been a well documented and much talked about trajectory for decades now. That is, a steadily increasing trajectory of hatred towards anything Christian. Simultaneously there exists a parallel trajectory, an increase in disregard for law and order. When these two trajectories, increasing lawlessness and animosity towards Christians, converge at a single point, well, “May the odds be forever in your favor.”
Hunger Games serves as a thermometer to the temperature of the people. And the people want a revolution. The people want a rebellion. Right or wrong, people are sick and tired of playing a game they didn’t sign up for, a game they feel is stacked against them.
I read an interesting article that discusses the roots of the famous song, “The Hanging Tree.” I experienced a wake up call when I read it. The author of the article explains the song, whose meanings had somewhat escaped me. The article is a big story, but for the racism it highlights. There is something more important than the lynchings.
Let me back up once more.
Men (no, I will not include women here) who are willing to die for what they believe in are not a great threat. Nor are men who are willing to kill for what they believe. Willing to kill, willing to die, these do not terrify me. It is those who are wanting to kill, or wanting to die that are dangerous.
I have listened to The Hanging Tree hundreds of times, I love it that much. The lyrics start out asking the question, ‘Are you coming to the tree?’ The fact is not lost upon its listeners that this is about death. Yet, the meaning of the 5th stanza was lost upon me: ‘Where I told you to run, So we’d both be free.’ Death is where he is singing for his loved one to flee, to freedom.
The hanging tree should be seen, along with the “necklace of hope,” as a means to freedom. This song represents people who are sick of this game, ready to end it, one way or another.
We Christians are waking up to a new society. A society that is sick and tired of playing a game. Revolution and death no longer intimidate it. The Hunger Games has shown me the temperature of the people I am called to proclaim the Gospel to. A people ready to do violence. Our emotions are often not proportionate to reality. In a fallen world, our perceptions are almost always skewed, if only a little. Yet these feelings of betrayal, hurt, and anger, however right or wrong they may be, are a force to be reckoned with.
And that time is now, not later.