My nephew handed me his copy of The Hunger Games and ended my internal debate over whether or not I would read it. Catching Fire and Mockingjay came to me soon afterwards: Samuel reads rapidly.
I knew the plot and the characters before I opened the first book because my interest in the story began at Speculative Faith in an online discussion with spoilers. Curiosity immediately sent me to Amazon reviews where I switched back and forth between five-star and one-star opinions. Within a few minutes I learned the fates of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, and Prim.
Only one thing took me totally by surprise when I actually read the trilogy: the crushing avalanche of despair that pours continuously from the pages. The first two books end in defeat. On the last page of the third book I saw a single dandelion growing in a mountain of destruction. The Hunger Games is certainly not a feel-good epic!
Reactions to the books vary from love to hate, but ambivalent is the only word to describe my own opinion. I agree with those who believe that child on child violence is not an appropriate subject for impressionable young readers. I also agree with those who believe that the consequence of war is an appropriate subject for everyone to consider.
Suzanne Collins does show readers the physical, mental, and emotional destruction that comes with war, and that may be reason enough to read her books. But it is not the reason I recommend them. Whatever her intention in the story may be, Collins paints a world where godlessness leads to the moral disintegration of humanity. The Hunger Games open a door for the discussion about civilization starved for God, and that is why I think they are worth reading.
I have been captivated by apologetics since I first read C.S. Lewis’s reasoned defense of the Faith in Mere Christianity. Whenever I do housework, instead of music, I often listen to a William Lane Craig debate or a Reasons to Believe podcast. I am well acquainted with Richard Dawkins and the New Atheism. The Hunger Games show how the zealous proselytizing of 21st century atheism is an instrument in the hand of our almighty God. It serves to spread of the gospel by forcing people to consider their Creator and answer questions that have eternal consequences.
Each reasoned encounter between theist and atheist simply repeats Joshua’s command, “Choose this day whom you will serve.” (Joshua 24:15) Each debate puts God in the front and center in every argument and in every rebuttal, in every question and in every answer. Each individual who listens to the debaters must decide whether he trusts in God or trusts in matter and energy as the best explanation for our present reality. Each time Dawkins denies God’s existence in a public forum, he openly confronts the Creator he wants to flee.
In The Hunger Games the debate is over, and atheism’s triumphant end is godlessness. Panem is a world where no one can make the moral argument for the existence of God. Cultural relativism is the universal philosophy in what remains of North America. Poor Katniss lives tormented by a shredded image of God in her soul, but she cannot find Him among the defeated people in District 12 or among the ruthless conquerors in the Capitol. Her determination to remain childless, her difficulty bonding with Peeta, and her suicidal mission all make perfect sense in a world without God, without ultimate purpose, and without eternal hope.
As Gramma’s Guide to The Hunger Games continues in my next post, I will tell you why I think Katniss is an excellent example of a mythical hero.