Hunger Games

The Hunger Games: A Christian Perspective Part 2

Posted on August 5, 2014. Filed under: Christian, Hunger Games, reflection |

If you have stumbled across this post, and you haven’t read Part 1, you can read that here. It might give you some context as to what I am talking about!

In this post I am going to elaborate on what ideas and themes in the Hunger Games I “reject” from a Christian perspective.

The first theme I see in the Hunger Games that I reject is the idea of “owing someone something/keeping score.” Early on in her life, Katniss was given loaves of bread from Peeta so that her and her family wouldn’t starve. She let this act of kindness hang over her head, and though she was thankful, she felt as though she continually owed him throughout the story. She wasn’t fully able to thank Peeta or even speak to him before the games, and then during the games, these feelings continued to surface.  When she finally took care of Peeta near the end of the Games and saved his life, she finally began to feel as if they were “even.”

At the climax of the story where the remaining tributes were forced to the Cornacopia, Thresh’s decision to let Katniss go was also based on the idea of “owing something.” Katniss had taken care of Rue, protected her, fed her, and ultimately honoured her in her death.  Thresh was also from District 11, and so when he learned that Katniss took care of Rue, he showed his appreciation by not killing her, but letting her go.  Katniss feels connected with Thresh in that moment, because she admits to knowing what it feels like to owe someone something, and so she understands his decision deeply. Once everyone’s debts are squared up, they leave each other knowing that they are now able to fight for their lives because they don’t owe each other anything.


Though many readers may connect with this theme, and even though I feel a sense of honour at what Katniss or Thresh did, I reject the principle behind it because it lacks the true understanding of grace or mercy. The idea of owing someone something, or making things even is the exact opposite theme from my first post- self sacrifice. The Christian gospel is different than any other religious belief for this very reason. Some religions say you need to do things, and follow rules to earn God’s favour. If you do this, then God will do that.  The gospel says you can do nothing to earn God’s favour; you already have it.  When Jesus died on the cross, he died completely innocent on behalf of the world’s sin.  He rose from the dead, conquering death (and therefore sin) and he now expects NOTHING in return.  Get that? Nothing. It is one of the hardest things for mankind (including myself) to understand.  Romans 10:9 says, “because if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Christianity only takes belief.  Technically, we owe God everything, we owe him our salvation, our eternal life, but there is NOTHING that we can do to even out the relationship.  We can’t do more, we can’t be better, because he will not love us more for trying harder.  God loves us SO much that before we were even born, He sent Jesus to die so there would be a way to have a relationship with the God of the universe. The problem with Katniss’s response to Peeta and Thresh, is that she will never be able to experience a deep peace.  If Peeta does one more nice thing, or saves her life again, she will continually feel like she will need to “earn her salvation” and keep things even with him. Though I often stumble with this concept of earning my own salvation, I am so thankful that as a Christian I can experience peace knowing that I am loved, accepted, and saved the way I am, and that I don’t have to earn my way into heaven some day.


The next principle I reject in the Hunger Games is the idea that the Capitol is a happy, joyful place. Sure they have great food, a plethora of clothes, trend setting fashions, and copious amounts of money, but we all know that the author wants us to see past that. The idea here is that the Capitol is meant to be a stark contrast from the districts, or more specifically, District 12.  The Capitol is made to look enticing and attractive, and it does, after comparing it to what the people of the districts have to face on a daily basis. The irony is that as Westerners (North Americans/Western Europeans), we ARE the citizens of the Capitol! Compared to the rest of the world, we are the fools who spend our money on outrageous things.  We are the ones that perform ridiculous procedures on our bodies, and talk about things that would sound atrocious to someone who struggles to find food every day.  So why I reject the idea that the Capitol is actually a happy place, is because when I look around, I know that as a society, we AREN’T very happy.

capitol fashion

Even though we have “things” that are supposed to make us happy, we always end up needing more.  Our consumerist culture demands that we buy the newest and latest thing, and then marketing tells us that once we have it, we will be happy. But we all know that this isn’t the truth.  Go to a landfill.  Everything in there was once NEW. It was once shiny and precious as well.  When I look at the Capitol, I can compare it to sin.  When we chase after our own desires, it looks good… it looks REALLY good.  It might even feel good, taste good, even satisfy, for a time.  Nothing in our world was created to meet that deep need we have inside of us.  Ever hear of the God shaped hole in our heart? It’s not the most perfect analogy, but I know that it often rings true for me.  The analogy is that we have this God shaped hole in our heart that we keep trying to fill with iPods, clothes, houses, love, sex, cars, girlfriends, boyfriends, spouses etc.  But we are always left wanting because the only thing that can fill that void in our life is someONE who is outside of this world.  Someone who doesn’t shift or fade or deteriorate. Someone who is beyond our human standards.  Someone who is so much greater, that no matter how much we have of Him, we will never have it all.  This person is Jesus. Even though Katniss and Peeta can appreciate the delicacies of the Capitol, deep down they know it is not satisfying.  They don’t fall into the belief that the Capitol is happy, and they don’t think that if they move to the Capitol, magically all their problems will go away. They seek a deeper peace, and a deeper rest than the Capitol has to offer.

The third idea I reject from the Hunger Games is when Katniss’s mom emotionally abandons her after her father dies. This is a sad but true human response to suffering. I can’t even say I fully understand the pain people experience when they lose someone close to them.  I have experienced death before, but thankfully I have never experienced someone in my immediate family dying. I can only imagine the deep suffering one must go through when this happens. That said, I reject the idea of shutting others out when death occurs. I believe God has put us here to live in community and to do life together. I think that the best part of the human experience is when we get to connect deeply with other people on this planet. Often times the deepest connections inter-personally happen when one or both parties have experienced a type of suffering, and they are willing to share that burden with the other person.  I think that Katniss’s mom could have experienced more hope and healing had she let her daughters in after her husband’s death.  Though difficult, I think that we, as humans, need to reach out to others in our times of struggle. The times when Katniss experienced peace for her broken heart were when she was allowing Gale or Peeta to comfort her and walk with her on her painful journey. Solitary battles leave lonely hearts.

broken heart

All in all, there are few themes that I reject throughout the book.  I think Suzanne Collins has done an excellent job of maintaining a thread of hope throughout the story, even through the seemingly hopeless conditions Katniss found herself in. I only reject the above principles because through a Christian lens, I know there is a better and more hopeful way.  I don’t think that Collins should have omitted these themes because a lot of them helped to drive our protagonist, Katniss, into the circumstances she often found herself in. The dark parts of the text make for an interesting story, and an even more redemptive ending… Which I will talk about in my next blog post, part 3; The Hunger Games: A Christian Perspective- what I “redeem.”

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The Hunger Games: A Christian Perspective Part 1

Posted on July 24, 2014. Filed under: Books, Christian, Hunger Games |

I had already seen the movie… and HATED it. I remember leaving the movie theatre disappointed in the lack of character depth and over cheesiness of the film. That said, I still went to the second Hunger Games movie, Catching Fire, and came out not hating it, but not loving it either.

I am a teacher, and so therefore I get the summers off. Even though I have to put up with all the sunshine, good weather, and extra sleep, there are some positives to having the summer off- I get time to actually read for enjoyment.  This week on Sunday, I started The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo.

We were heading to the lake that day, and so I started reading it in the car.  When I was there, my aunt commented on the book, sharing that it’s pretty dark.  I hadn’t really thought it was that bad yet, so I kept reading.  It was holding my attention and interest, so I read all of Part One that day.  But something inside of me was nagging me to do a little more research. So before bed, I looked up some of the summaries and reviews of the book. I found out that later on in the book, there was going to be a graphic rape scene, and a lot of the book has to do with sexual content etc. I decided to stop reading it and save my conscience and mind the images that would most likely end up haunting me. (I don’t do well with that kind of thing.  Did I mention I teach grade one… and quite enjoy the innocence of it!)

On Tuesday, I went to my parents house as we were going up to the lake again. (Tough life, I know.) I ran upstairs to their bookshelf to see if they had any other books I could read.  Lucky for me, my dad got the Hunger Games trilogy for Christmas. I dove right in.  That was on Tuesday, and I finished the book yesterday…. which would be Wednesday. Sigh. Yes I’m a nerd.  But in my defense, it is very well written and has an excellent story line. The movie does not do it justice.

I was reading my Bible this morning and because the Hunger Games is fresh in my memory, I was making some connections from the themes in the book to Christianity. That, my friends, is where this post is coming from. I plan on posting what I receive, reject and redeem about the Hunger Games from a Christian perspective. Post 1 is what I “receive.”


The idea of Self Sacrifice: From the very beginning we see the theme of self sacrifice through the protagonist, Katniss.  We know that Katniss is constantly looking after her mother and sister by hunting in the woods illegally and providing for them before herself, but this is just a foreshadowing of what is to come by Katniss volunteering to die in place of her sister Prim, and the rest of District 12. I “receive” this idea because I see it paralleling Jesus so easily.  Jesus chose/volunteered to die in our place.  He loved us so much that he couldn’t bear the thought of us dying and going to hell.  He offered himself as the perfect sacrifice even though he knew what that outcome would be. Katniss didn’t volunteer thinking she would win, she volunteered knowing she would die.

i volunteer

Peeta is also a great example of self sacrifice.  The book tells the story of him deliberately burning his parent’s bread, so that he could run out and put it into Katniss’s starving hands. He was abused for his choice, but made it anyway. Throughout the story, Peeta continually is the depiction of self sacrifice. He constantly puts Katniss’s needs first, and we get the impression he has decided to put her well being before his own no matter what. This makes me think of how often Jesus did this in the Bible. His self centred disciples are constantly making the kingdom of God about themselves and their own kingdom, and though Jesus rebukes them, he continually loves and serves those he is with.  He never once chooses to put himself first; even when his followers hurt and abandon him.

I receive the idea of Evil: In The Hunger Games, The Capitol is represented as being evil. It is The Capitol that is causing oppression on the districts, it is The Capitol that is witholding food and forcing the districts to live in fear.  Gale and Katniss agree on this while hunting in the wilderness, and Gale even suggests running away from its reign. I “receive” this idea because in our world I also see oppression and evil happening.  I don’t blame some governing body or city, but I do blame sin.  All it takes is one look at the newspaper to know that there is something wrong with our world.  There is a disproportioned use of power.  There are deaths that are inhumane and preventable.  Something is just not right.  Though the Hunger Games is often considered part of “dystopian literature,” I see our world as being dystopian. In Genesis it says that the world used to be perfect until sin entered.  When Adam and Eve took that fruit, they allowed sin to enter the Earth, and more or less screw up everything that was good! Thank God that He had a plan to redeem this world and restore it! There are still many evidences of grace today where we can see a glimpse of that once utopia, and without those, I feel like we would all feel utterly hopeless. Fortunately I know that even though we are living in a very fallen and depraved world, there will be a day where Jesus returns to restore it to its former beauty.

forbidden fruit

The idea of real love: Though Katniss is a hard hearted character, the author allows us to see little blossoms of her true love, and one of these is Prim.  Katniss truly loves her.  She would do anything for her sister, even give up her life. She has moments of fondness for Gale, her mother, and even Peeta, but the audience knows that she truly LOVES Prim.  Because Prim is left behind so early in the book, we get to experience Katniss’s sisterly love again when it comes to Rue.  Rue is more than just an ally to Katniss; she becomes a sister. Though short lived, we see the fruits of Katniss’s sisterly love when she spends the night in a tree with Rue. Katniss has a peace that night that casts out all fear.  Her nerves are calm and she can enjoy the company of Rue without the heavy loneliness that had been following her throughout the games. 1 John 4:18 says, “there is no fear in love, perfect love casts out fear.” The idea of real, true love points me to the Lord.  When we truly experience the love of a heavenly Father, every fear and worry seems to get a little smaller and less significant. His love gives us a sense of safety that not even a human’s love can.

Furthermore, Peeta also reveals true love to the readers. All along, Peeta seems to be thinking about how he can love Katniss more.  His strategy before, and during the games, is always to keep Katniss safe and allow her to live. His love is what draws the Capitol’s sponsors in, and provides help for Peeta and Katniss when they need it.  Though Katniss behaves as though she loves Peeta, the Capitol, (and the readers,) always have their doubts about her true feelings.  Peeta’s love stands the test of time and circumstance.  At the end of the Hunger Games, when the announcer shares that there can only be one winner, killing Katniss doesn’t even cross Peeta’s mind, though we can’t say the same for Katniss. Katniss is Peeta’s “bride,” his love, and he is willing to die for her.  Again, this so clearly reflects Jesus.  He calls the Church his bride, and he loves the Church beyond measure. Romans 5:8 says, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Peeta was throwing his knife away, while Katniss was grabbing her bow to kill him. Jesus was giving his life away, while we run to sin that ultimately kills Him.

Does the book, The Hunger Games, have a clear message of the gospel? I would say no, but I do think there are elements of the gospel in the book. When we open our minds to receive these, we are able to take a beautiful story and let it strengthen our faith in God and what He has done.

Hunger_games book                     bible

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