Friday, April 06, 2012

Hunger Games Easter

After watching the Hunger Games, I might actually go ahead and read the book. It easily ranks up there with The Matrix, Lord of the Rings, and The Chonicles of Narnia in ripeness with theological implications.

There is good and evil. There is the fake or gilded world and then there is the real world. There is a narrative of death that is powerful and seemingly irresitible and the strength needed to live the counternarrative is not only difficult, it is dangerous. The story of "live the narrative of death or die" wears relentlessly against those who are honest, free, and hopeful.

"May the odds be ever in your favor," is the twisted blessing that is spoken to encourage everyone. It is a diabolical sort of "God bless you" with God being replaced with a wicked game of chance. It gives some kind of sense that if your name is not drawn to go into the annual death match, you were in some way favored. However, the oppressiveness and deceit of the statement imposes on everyone because everyone is forced into the anxiety having the chance of kill or be killed.

Everyone is objectified. Everyone is equally worthy of death. And yet it is even more sickening than just death. For the masters of death, there is value in keeping people alive for sport, for the entertainment of the powerful. Just like in the Matrix, providing the masses with some minimal life satisfaction to believe they can live or are living serves the powerful. The oppressed must live just enough to provide a resource to be exploited by the powerful, but they must not be allowed too much hope or it gets out of control and the oppressed may believe they can have freedom, may pursue great freedom.

Jesus was situated in the political superpower of Rome and the religious superpower of the Jewish religious system. Each of these systems had powerful control mechanisms that served the powerful for the exploitation of the masses. Systems of death were used to control. Jesus may have been more aware of his freedom than Katniss, she was not far behind. Her innocence in loving freedom is refreshing and it isn't too hard to think of her Messianic archetype.

Jesus lived within these systems, but was not beholden to them. He neither bowed to Caesar nor did he run from Caesar. He neither obeyed the Sanhedrin nor did he fear them and flee. Jesus operated on a completely different power system. He called it the Kingdom of God.

Whatever metaphor might now better fit what Jesus was doing 2000 years ago, it was about freedom and taking the side of the oppressed.

When the systems of death were ramped up by Rome and the Sanhedrin, they killed Jesus. And yet even in death Jesus was defiant. There is a difference between being killed and being willing to die. Jesus took the power out of the hands of his killers by freely dying. Jesus' death actually created more life in the lives of the living.

Here in the Easter season, Christians think of how Jesus died and how Jesus defeated death. In the Hunger Games, life and death is the up and running theme throughout. Even though there are political, religious, economic, and media systems of dehumanization, of objectification, of oppression, of death, freedom and hope cannot be snuffed out.

We must be not give in to the systems of death that swirl and seduce us. We must live. Being yourself, the image of God that you were made (and helping others do the same), is the most powerfully subversive initiative you can take.

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