Hunger Games: A Satire on Entertainment and the Ultimate Form of Consumerism

Missy and I watched the Hunger Games. What stood out to us most was what we saw as a satire on American entertainment and the ultimate form of consumerism. In the Hunger Games, the dominant culture has basically enslaved their subjects into 12 districts. Those 12 districts provide raw materials to their overlords and entertainment via the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a mandatory event where each district sends two of their teens to compete in a battle to the death called the Hunger Games. What is more, society watches the battle and is entertained by the violence, bloodshed and drama they see.

In their world, there is no value to human life except what that life can provide for others in the form of raw materials to maintain the lavish lifestyle of the dominant culture and entertainment. There is a conversation in the movie where the president of that country has a conversation with Seneca Crane, the “gamemaster.” They talk about hope and how the purpose of the show is to offer a false hope to the workers to keep them going without stripping so much hope that they revolt. The reality was, there really wasn’t any hope at all if people could just see under the hood at the inner workings and attitudes of the Games and their creators. These are the ultimate consumers…they aren’t just consuming goods. They are consuming peoples.

We think people who act like that are confined to extreme groups in history (like the Nazi’s) who see people as having little to no value. But maybe our culture has embraced that far more than we can imagine. It hasn’t resulted in physical murder but in effect, we have murdered our entertainers with our thoughts. This consumerism and underlying value system is a part of Reality Television. We put people on the screen and form an entire industry around the drama in their lives. Often that drama includes their suffering. They typically aren’t valued for anything but the entertainment they provide. If they stop being entertaining (in the movie, death) they stop being of value to society. Missy and I have watched the Bachelor and Bachelorette from time to time. After watching the Hunger Games we have vowed to never watch it again. We do not want to take part of an entire industry that is profiting of the pain of others. People watch it for the drama, but if you dig beneath the surface the show doesn’t exist solely to produce drama. The show exists to produce an industry off the ups and downs of real people. We laugh at things that if they happened to our best friend we might cry over. We make fun of people we don’t even know. We are, in principle, the same audience you will see if you watch the Hunger Games, just not yet to that extreme…the attitude is the same. People exist for our entertainment. That is not godly and is destructive.

Dallas Willard put it this way,

“Love is not the same thing as desire, for I may desire something without even wishing it well, much less willing its good. I might desire a chocolate ice cream cone, for example. But I do not wish it well; I wish to eat it. This is the different between lust (mere desire) and love, as between a man and a woman. Desire and love are, of course, compatible when desire is ruled by love; but most people today would, unfortunately, not even know the difference between them. Hence, in our world, love constantly falls prey to lust. That is a major part of the deep sickness of contemporary life.” (Renovation of the Heart, 131).

Willard’s point is that true love is concerned with the well being of the other person. Lust is only interested in desire and desirability itself without a genuine interest and concern in the well being of the other person involved. The attitude of love is, “What can I do for you to make your life full?” and lust, “What can you do for me at the expense of your self?” I am afraid our country is addicted to the second.

Anyone else get any “aha’s” from this movie?


Ripening Issues in the Church of Christ – Dissatisfaction with Worship

gulfcoastgetaway.jpgOne of the predominant messages of Gulfcoast Getaway 2008 was that our college students are dissatisfied with worship in their local congregations. The root cause of this is believed to be an aging leadership with a different taste for worship, song selection, and atmosphere. Pair that with high octane instrumental Christian music on the radio and a society that says everything should be about getting you what you want (consumerism) and you end up with a clash of the generations and dissatisfied young people.

Expectation of Meaningful Worship:

The word that comes to mind that sums all of that up is expectations. The older generation expects “meaningful worship” = “worship in line with tradition” and the younger generation expects “meaningful worship” = “worship in line with a meaningful experience and relationship with God.” Both are really after the same thing – to have their expectation of meaningful worship met. The problem is the generations don’t define meaningful worship the same way. Another problem is that for the longest time people have equated “meaningful worship” with song selection and that is just not the case. That can be a small part of it but it is not the whole. The outgrowth of that kind of thinking is, “If they will just sing the songs I like then worship will be meaningful.” Song selection is a symptom of a much larger systemic problem and not the problem itself. Treating this as a song selection issue puts all the blame on one side of the problem when in fact both sides make contributions to the problem, therefore, both sides must contribute to the answer.

The lens of love:

What is the answer? The answer comes from how we view each other and whether or not we see each other in a Christ-like fashion. The Corinthians had a “worship war.” They were each coming to get their way, do their thing, and everyone else better get out of the way because, afterall, they are not as important as I am…” After discussing the problem in 1 Cor 11-12 what solution did Paul give them in chapter 13? Love. When we view each other through the lens of love we will no longer see worship as “us against them” or “my needs vs. their needs” or “my songs vs. their songs.” When either side thinks, “my way is the ONLY way to worship in a meaningful way” we have left love out and put selfishness and arrogance in its place.

Mutual submission and respect:

Once we start with love the next move is toward mutual submission. Remember what Paul said in Ephesians 5:21ff? Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ...For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ…”

What is Paul saying here? He is saying that Christ has unified us as head of his church/the body as its savior. Notice Paul didn’t say “our church” but “his church.” We know whose we are. Our commonality as the saved body of Christ should result in mutual submission to each other but first and foremost to Christ. The blame for this problem does not comes from one side alone. It is not an “old person problem.” Both sides need to approach each other out of mutual submission and with attitudes of love and respect. When that happens the older generation won’t feel like they have “lost” when new songs are sung or a newer translation is read and that they have won when things go their way. The same with the younger generation thinking they have “won” when the new songs are sung and “lost” when the old songs are sung. Winning and losing implies we are on different teams! Paul says mutual submission starts with the recognition of who Jesus is as the unifying force and head of the church.

I look forward to the day young people understand their need to respect and appreciate the shoulders they stand on so much that they can sing “Night with ebon pinion” with a smile on their faces. I look forward to the day older people can sing “The Heart of Worship” with tears in their eyes. I look forward to the day when the younger people will learn and grow from the dedication of our older members and the older members will dig deeper in experiencing God because they see how it has impacted the young people. This is not pie in the sky and I am sure it is already happening in many places. Let’s throw away the us vs. them mentality and come back to the table out of attitudes of love, mutual submission and respect. And let’s remember who sits at the head of the table reminding us that he didn’t get his way all of time either, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” (Luke 22:42).

What Are You Afraid Of?

Have you ever thought about the devastating effects fear can have on our lives? Fear of the unknown, of change, or even fear of what toys our children play with. If you can name it there is probably a way to be afraid of it. Just to give you a sample of how many different types of fears there are psychologists have labeled 58 known phobias or fears beginning with the letter “A” alone. A couple of interesting phobias include:

Alliumphobia – Fear of garlic

Consecotaleophobia – Fear of chopsticks

Pogonophobia – Fear of beards

[To see a more complete listing see here.]

Hopefully no one has all three of those or else a Chinese restaurant is not the place for you! The good news is that even though people fear many things, God has something to say to remind us that we have little to fear. In 1 John 4:18 we find this encouragement, “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear” In 1 Peter 5:17 Peter writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” God is actively working to take away our fear and replace it with love that gives us courage and confidence. Throughout the book of Joshua the constant theme is to “be strong” and to “be courageous.” Why? Because God is the one who gives deliverance. Only God can give the victory. No matter what you are facing, if you trust in God, he is able to see you through to the other side. Cast it all on him because he cares for you! Fear binds but the love of God sets free. Fear paralyzes but God’s love energizes. Fear breaks down but the love God has for us builds up.

“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” – Proverbs 3:5-6

Fear not!


Because He First Loved…Living By God’s Example

God asks us to do many difficult things:

  • Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us
  • Take up our cross
  • Leave your father and mother for his sake
  • Humble ourselves

In each of those things and in many others we see how God, through Christ, did those things first and asks us to follow. He didn’t just throw out a bunch of “good ideas” and hypotheticals. He doesn’t call us to action while he sits idly by. We often think of the call of Christ being to “go” but what is stated more often in the New Testament is the call to follow. When you are following Christ evangelism wont’ be an issue. He will take you to those you need to reach out to but you have to follow.

He doesn’t send where he is not willing to go. He was willing to do it himself and blaze a trail for us to follow on. Being a disciple of Christ requires some difficult things but we always remember that the trail of discipleship has already been blazed. We just follow Him.

Thank you God for first doing what you ask us to do. Help us to take the call of discipleship seriously and live by the example you have set. Thank you for making your dwelling among us. Thank you for walking ahead of us. Give us the strength to follow in the paths you have already trod. Help us to love others as you have first loved us. Help us to pray for our enemies as you prayed for those who crucified you. Help us to take up our cross remembering that it is not the first time in history that has been done. Help us to put you first above all others as Christ put your will for his life first.. Humble us as Christ the king was willing to take on the roll of the servant. Lead us and help us to follow.