On our journey, I believe Jesus desires us to be our authentic, child-of-God selves.
My granddaughter insisted I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Once I read the first book in the trilogy, I couldn’t wait to read Catching Fire and Mockingjay. Unlike Annika, I won’t be standing in a line at midnight to be one of the first to see the movie on March 23, but I did peek in the People Magazine she lent me to check out whose playing whom. The characters are compelling and the story exciting.
This is an often-told story of greed and power run amuck. In the post-apocalyptic nation of Panem, President Snow dwells in the Capitol and rules the nation. He devises the Hunger Games after an uprising which destroyed District 13. Once a year, two children between the ages of 12 and 18 from each of the remaining twelve districts are chosen by lottery to compete in nail-biting, death-defying games. The rules say only one of the twenty-four children may be left alive at the end of the games.
As the story unfolds, we experience what happens when lust for power, an insatiable appetite for wealth, and a need to control on the part of a few make the lives of subordinates and their children miserable. They scrape by with little income, search for food to keep from starving, and are oppressed into submission – but most of all – they live in fear. And fear inhabiting any heart does not allow for freedom.
At the end of the story, Katniss, the narrator, says, “I no longer feel any allegiance to these monsters called human beings, despise being one myself….Because something is significantly wrong with a creature that sacrifices its children’s lives to settle its differences. You can spin it any way you like. Snow thought the Hunger Games were an efficient means of control…But in the end, who does it benefit?.…The truth is, it benefits no one to live in a world where these things happen.” (Mockingjay, pg. 377)
She’s right. By the time she says this, those who schemed the horrible atrocities were pitiable, empty
shells. Scores of men, women, and children who were used to provide goods and services for those in power were either killed or maimed.
When Katniss speaks, I hunger. I hunger for the leaders and the subordinates of our tortured world, for those who grasp onto power in their little corner of control, for any man, woman or child who chooses to bully anyone to hear the words of Jesus. At the beginning of his ministry, he sits on the side of a mountain and speaks in his usual counter-intuitive style. He talks about what the Kingdom of God looks like. He says that those who receive ultimate, total, complete well-being from God himself are those who are hungry and thirsty for what is good and loving and harmonious and generous and patient and kind and faithful and peaceful and gentle.
I wonder what would happen if those were the games we played.
Ruth Vander Zee
Author of WOMAN MEETS JESUS
Journey of Faith