“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” ~ Jeremiah 17:9
Like many people in America, I went to see the movie “The Hunger Games” this weekend. Having been a fan of the books, I was looking forward to seeing the story translated to the big screen. As far as adaptations go, it was more than adequate at telling the story. What shocked me, though, were the number of people at the showing I went to – and the broad demographic represented as well.
I typically avoid going to a movie opening day, I simply don’t see the point in waiting in line for the exact same movie that I can see a few days later without the wait. This movie was no exception. However, even waiting a few days didn’t help in this case. The theatre was packed when my sisters-in-law and I arrived – and we were twenty minutes early for the movie! And unlike the Twilight movies, that pack theatres full of screaming teenage girls, the theatre was filled with a wide variety of ages (teenagers to gray haired folks) and both genders were equally represented.
If you are unfamiliar with the premise of the books, they tell a fairly brutal story. It takes place in a post-United States world, where a civil war-like uprising was quashed by the now leaders of the Capitol of Panem. Panem is run by a single-party dictatorship, which has established the yearly Hunger Games, requiring two “tributes” from each of the twelve districts to fight to the death (resulting in one lone victor), as a reminder never to rebel again. The Hunger Games are televised nationally; in extreme reality show fashion, complete with a master of ceremonies and Olympic-style opening events.
Looking at this description, it might seem hard to imagine that people were lining up for this movie all weekend long (the theatre in my town has twenty-one showings a day – and that’s not counting all the midnight showings they ran when the movie opened).
However, what strikes me about all the people rushing to see this particular movie is the fact that it actually isn’t far from what reality can be.
When you think back to ancient Rome, it was the pinnacle of advanced civilization at the time. Wealth, power, knowledge, and politics were concentrated in this powerful empire. And yet what did the people do for entertainment? They flocked to the Colosseum (which is the size of our modern-day football stadiums, capable of holding 50,000 people) – and some historians estimate that there were perhaps as many as 400 other arenas across Rome – to watch gladiators fight animals or each other, often to the death. Historians estimate that approximately 8,000 deaths took place per year in these areas – all for the sake of entertainment. And Nero, famous for throwing Christians to the lions, wasn’t above having women and children fight in the arena, either. (I could go on with other horrendous examples from history, but this one seems to hit the mark.)
Suddenly, “The Hunger Games” doesn’t seem so far off target.
Satan wants us to believe that we, as human beings, are naturally good. Wait – wouldn’t he want us to believe that we are pure evil? Well, no – because if we actually believed that human nature was inherently flawed, we would immediately see the need for a Savior. So the enemy strives to make us think that we are, at the heart, good, compassionate, understanding creatures. I heard an ad on the radio the other day, saying basically exactly that. I can’t remember what they were advertising, but they wanted us to know that people are essentially good.
Except the Bible says just the opposite. People aren’t good. Because sin entered the world, people must grapple with terrible desires to do the wrong thing, whenever we are given the opportunity. It is why we so desperately need a Savior, one who bled and died for us, to cover all of our sins and shortcomings.
And, deep down, I think this is what drives people to movies like “The Hunger Games.” We know that we, humanity, are broken. We know that there is something wrong. We know that with a wrong turn here or there, we could end up just like the people in Panem. The ultimate question is, are we Christians being the light to show people Who it is they are really missing?