Hunger Games: The God of the Bible vs. The God of the Capitol

Guest post by Brandon TerryHunger Games

Introduction

In the last article, the existential ideas that shape the message of The Hunger Games, whether directly or indirectly, were drawn out and considered. In the end, these ideas seemed to fall short of being a satisfactory view of life and reality. A quick point of qualification is needed before moving onto the second consideration however. The fact that these ideas don’t satisfy the innate desires for meaning and purpose in men does not disprove this worldview. If man is, in fact, left at odds with a blind, oppressive “Fate,” or whatever, this pointless existence and struggle would obviously be all they are left with and their best option. It would just be horribly unfortunate (not to mention hard to explain) that man has these innate desires.

The purpose of these articles, though, is not to present an apologetic argument for God or against existentialism. Instead, in the same manner as Pascal’s “Wager,”[1] these articles were written to simply open the door for further consideration by focusing on one aspect of measuring a worldview’s validity– workability. The main focus of this article is to facilitate this goal through a quick comparison between the views of “god” set up in The Hunger Games and the views presented in the Bible.

God of the Capitol

Throughout the movie, certain elements of the story suggest that the Capitol is being set up to represent the concept of deity in the characters’ world. Three points of the movie support this interpretation. The first point is the propaganda video in the beginning of the movie, which states that the Hunger Games exists as a punishment for betraying the Capitol that cared for, protected, and fed the people. This echoes Old Testament language in which Israel’s woes, like their exile and Babylonian captivity was the result of their unfaithfulness. The second point is the speech the president gives about halfway through the movie on the concept of hope in which the president says that they allow one person to live because the little bit of hope is more powerful than fear. The abuse of people’s hope is a common trend for false god figures (take for example Shift from Narnia’s The Last Battle). The final point is the sheer power of the capitol, especially during the Hunger games where they had constant view of all the contestants, could send in anything they wanted anywhere they wanted, and could even control the weather, which made them practically omnipotent. It is hard to see such a portrayal in a movie without forming a symbolic connection in your mind to a deity or divine source of some kind, as this is how worldview’s are expressed in art forms like movies.

Hunger Games2

Therefore, an association is formed in the audience’s minds between deity and the governing Capitol. Furthermore, this deity is portrayed as uncaring, abandoning, and ultimately cruel. This is best seen in the aforementioned discussion on hope. Because of the rebellion in which the districts did turn against the not so “caring” Capitol, the Capitol and the president have made it their mission to keep the districts subdued. Just like Hobbes’ Leviathan[2], this is accomplished by removing all freedom in the name of “order.” As such, the concept of hope has simply been transformed into a weapon used to manipulate the masses in order to achieve this goal. Hope becomes nothing more than what existential and modern thinkers like Nietzsche and William James have classified it as: a coping mechanism that prevents men from living life to the fullest.

The existential problem with hope is that the dreams of salvation or some kind of liberation that hope offers prevents men from seeing the world as it really is. As soon as they abandon these dreams, men are able to fight back and make something out of the nothing they are offered. Hope then can be the most potent weapon for keeping people passive. In the end, this is the concept of God that The Hunger Games presents, a cruel and vindictive force that offers no real hope, simply manipulation in the guise of hope.

God of the Bible

In contrast, the God of the Bible does not use hope as a weapon, but as an instrument for distributing grace to his people. Before a person can see how God uses hope though, he must understand how the term “hope” is used in the bible. In modern language, “hope” means wishing for something that you have no clear cut evidence for. But in the bible, hope doesn’t just mean to want something you are not sure of, but is used more in the same way that a person would say “you are my last hope.” Hope is the being or event in whose very existence lies the rescue or redemption for a man. The hope God offers is literally the last vestige of chance that the people have if they want to escape ultimate death.

The hope offered in the bible is a result of the fact that man truly did rebel against a God that truly did care for them. Instead of destroying or oppressing the people, this God died in their place in order to pay the price for their rebellion. This God is not wishing to subdue the people who have forsaken him for he wishes to give them life. At the end of this worldview is a hope that is in fact a “living hope” [1 Peter 1:3] full of meaning.

Conclusion

For those who have stumbled upon this article there are two main takeaways. For those who are not believers, let this simply be an initiation into discussion about the workability of worldview’s and what they offer. Seek to find if in fact what is offered in Christianity is true, both practically and historically (as the truth hope in Christianity is in the historical resurrection of Jesus), and discover if it truly has substance behind its promises. For the believer, let this serve as an example to you to take time to think about what the movie industry does to the image of God. If the Church is a people of truth, they must be willing to fight for truth in all areas, especially in areas such as Film which now serves as the modern prophet for truth.

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