Saturday, April 14, 2012

Hunger Games and Christian Faddism

I haven't seen the movie or read the book, Hunger Games. What I understand of this particular series (i.e. Hunger Games) is that it involves something of a neo-Darwinian ethic of survival of the fittest; wherein certain tribes and/or people ultimately must fight to the death if they are going to survive as the dominant group, who indeed are the 'fittest'. So understand, everything that follows comes from what I know of this story via hearsay.

What is it about Christians, in particular, who try to Christianize everything? Isn't this what is happening with this most recent fad of a story? Isn't this what happened with Harry Potter mania, and maybe even the recent Twilight hysteria. Why do so many Christians get so passionate about promoting such things, and when it comes to reading deeper Christian theological works; or indeed, the Bible itself---this passion quickly fizzles and these same passionate souls and promoters are nowhere to be found?

I have heard it argued, by Christians, that reading fine literary works, or imaginative/creative stories expand the readers grammatical and literary horizons, such that this then impinges upon how the reader can interact and integrate theological and biblical themes (later). I don't disagree that reading 'good' literature, and classic stories (even if they don't traffic in overtly 'Christian' themes) have the capacity to expand the reader's imagination quotient. But this argument presupposes that said readers are actually engaging the wealth and heritage of theological thought and writing we have been bequeathed with by our forbears from centuries past into the present moment. In other words, I wonder how many of these folk who make such arguments (with passion) for following the most recent fantasy story fads (for example); in fact, intentionally are just as passionate about encountering the Living Word of God as they spend hours upon hours mediating upon Holy Writ?

So what is this all about; I mean, why do so many Christians follow these fads like Hunger Games represents? And that these same Christians spend little to no time contemplating the deep things of God, theologically and biblically? And why are these Christians so eager to cull (or attempt to) the 'Christian redemptive' themes from such features as 'The Hunger Games'; while at the same time so apathetic about cultivating intimacy with Christ through doing the toilsome work of biblical exegesis and theological contemplation?

We are a culture of amusement (as Neil Postman has argued in 'Amusing Ourselves to Death'); and entertainment rues the day, both for the Christian and non alike. It makes us feel good when we can 'redeem' what the culture is excited about; even though our redemption mechanisms are really only parodies of the culture we seek to redeem. In other words, we like to think that we can 'Christianize' the culture by integration and absorption; but this process isn't any different than Aaron's and Jeroboam's Golden Calves.


  1. Amen and Amen! Once again my dear husband you brilliantly translate my meager thoughts into clear, concise, articulate paragraphs!!! You are amazing. I love you.

  2. "Anonymous" my left ear! I KNOW who you are! ;O)

    In answer to your question, Bobby, I'll let you know when I find out. I wish I could plea "sanctified outsider", but my distance from POPULAR culture may be something in my makeup that is contrarian. I was a straightlaced kid in school. I narked on kids smoking in the boys room until I grasped that the teachers didn't want me to do that either. It interrupted their own smoke breaks. Then after 3 years of college, in the 80's, I became a deadhead before it became popular again (I referred to myself as a latter-day hippee). Not so any more. I like bluegrass music a lot, but I've never seen the critically acclaimed movie "Oh Brother Where Art Thou". If it's hyped, I'm outta here. Who knows? If you ever get a seat at the helm of a mega church, I may not hang around any more. I don't trust popular culture. Again, I don't claim it as a sanctified move on my part, BUT, Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, because He know what spirit they were of. :O)
    Oh! Spongebob! I like Spongebob, except it gets a little dicey sometimes too. I'm sure Jerry Fallwell would not approve.

  3. Neo- Darwinian ethic? Hardly, I've read the trilogy and seen the movie and think you are a bit out to lunch on this one my friend. The main character is the embodiment of self sacrifice. The only reason I read the books or knew anything about them was because of a Theo blog I read that made the case that the themes were worth exploring, which I find they were. The idea of war and reality both being a reality tv show that "stars" children is not a light easily dismissed theme. What the hunger games is is a retelling of the roman empire. Or any centrally planned power structure that enslaves it people and then uses them as pawns in it games. Those themes are interesting to modern materialists, in that they can identify with hence the popularity. As far as "deeper" theological works and their neglect the blame for that is on the boring manner which these works are written in, thank god the bible is mostly a story. One thing I have learned in life, it is stupid to argue about aesthetics and artistic tastes especially with those who never viewed the art.

  4. Whereof we are not qualified to comment, we must pass over in silence, brother. ;) That said, I do think Christianity gets top billing by default for any redemptive themes, when redemption is a category far larger than Christic redemption, and Christic redemption is far from a monolithic topos itself. We are too ready, apologetically, to claim the story of Spartacus as the story of Christ.

  5. @Wife (anon),

    Thank you :-).


    Spongebob works ;-) ... thanks for sharing.


    I'll need to watch it then at some point. But I was also talking about something greater than that I see taking place in the Evangelical community in general.


    "... to claim the story of Spartacus as the story of Christ."

    Yes, this is really my larger point. Like I said to Kenny, I'll have to watch Hunger Games at some point; so I can make a more informed comment. Nevertheless, my point goes beyond HG.

  6. Bobby I would recommend the book over the movie, you can read this trash in about 5 hrs.

    1. Kenny,

      Thank you. I haven't read such stuff ever before in my life! I don't really read outside of boring theology and biblical exegetical books; I just don't have the time. So we'll see how this works out; I'm sure I'll probably just end up watching the movie someday. I know I will never sit down and read it.

  7. Bobby, I read something you wrote that I can understand. Very well put. It is something Pat and I have watched happen over the years with a lot of popular,fad movies and books that were put out there.
    We listened to the arguments by christian brothers and sisters that these movies had themes that were parallel with the scriptures. I too wondered why not just read the scriptures than if that is what you are hungry for? I was told I was too black and white. Oh well. That is my cross to bear I guess.

    Love you,


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