On Hunger Games and the Road to Dystopia

This blog was begun well over a year ago after reading the book The Hunger Games and viewing the movie on the big screen. Only now am I brave enough to finish it:

Being disturbed by a movie or book is not new to me. It took years for me not to remember scenes from the black and white 1958 movie, A Night to Remember. It was the dramatic, visual telling of the sinking of the Titanic. It so haunted me, I never wanted to see Kate and Leo in the more recent Titanic. Especially not in 3D!

I remember being disturbed by Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm and Lord of the Flies. Now I add to the list The Hunger Games. All through the night after seeing the film, I thought about how the story was so plausible it was scary. The book is published by Scholastic, long known to be a publisher of good children’s and young adult literature. I suppose for young people who have cut their teeth on Harry Potter and violent video graphics, the sci-fi bent of the story is just more of the same. But to me, this story makes a social statement that calls for some prayerful reflection.

That an elitist upper class would control food, shelter, security for a broad underclass is frightening. The cartoonish ruling class, wrapped in ego and narcissism, dressed to nines, plush with choices have left few choices available to the many who inhabit the rest of the regions of creation. Power and self-serving aligned with privilege, opportunity and cunning have created a world out of balance, bereft of brotherhood and good will for all.

While Utopia may be fantasy, a global community where every creature and place is valued and protected,  every heart is loved, and inclusion and acceptance are daily fare is not. Pollyanna me. My vision of such a place is a vision of the Kingdom of God where all God’s creation lives a unity beyond ego and self-interest and where the interdependence of creatures is known and appreciated, where utter dependence on God’s grace and mercy is praised and thanked with gracious lives that share the goodness rather than working to keep it all for ourselves.

Call me crazy, but I hear Jesus’ words with such a bent. The skeptical disciple asks, “Lord, when did I see you?” You saw me at the food bank, you saw me in the prison, you saw me at the intersection of Glenwood and 440, you saw me trying to get an ID at the DMV, You saw me under the bridge by the tracks in the woods under the tarp, you saw me in the face of the child with a bloated belly, an empty bowl and flies on her face, you saw me on television, bloody and screaming after the latest bomb went off.

The man in the back of the room said out loud: “You just have to feed yourself,” as the discussion of food and eating habits turned away – in my hearing –  from any notion of responsibility to the nation and the world for feeding the hungry. I don’t think he had a pink wig on; I didn’t turn around to see. If this kind of feeling is growing among us, we are paving a road to Dystopia which is in the opposite direction of the Kingdom of God. Food is not a bargaining chip, even though there are warlords and profiteers who might use it as such.

The plenty of God’s creation is a fragile blessing. Working to corner the market on it is a slippery slope. Not until we discuss, dialogue, and proceed in humility and faith, can we build sustainability, care for creation, and grow the Kingdom God intends. End of sermon.

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