Books & Writing · This & That

Capital Citizens in The Hunger Games

Yesterday morning I happened to be watching Kathie Lee Gifford and Hota Kotb, a show I typically can’t stand to watch. This was no exception. Paul in one of his letters actually says something about older women who are busy bodies, always gossiping about this and that. Instead, they should aim to help younger women, who are in the throes of parenting and trying to make marriage work.

Yesterday Kathie Lee and Hota welcomed a stylist who would make over women who felt they’d lost their attractiveness. OK, so they do want to help moms who spend more time caring for children than their own appearance. Sounds good. Except the stylist did his best to transform them into someone unrecognizable, instead of working to summon their potential beauty.

The stylist himself was frightening. The skin on his face had been stretched this way and that. His cheeks were abnormally puffy, like Dizzy Gillespie’s, except the stylist carried no horn, which he would have had a hard time playing since his lips looked all plasticy like Mr. Potato Head’s. The stylist, whatever his name is, depicted for me some of the Capital characters in The Hunger Games.

Capital Citizens in The Hunger Games

In my previous post, I wrote about how I’d gotten sucked into the young adult fiction trilogy. I read an interview with the author, who was asked if she could envision a post-apocalytpic America, where the capital city harshly rules over district cities, as in the book. To answer the question offered her, I believe this already exists, though differently: our entire country lords it over much of the weak in the world.

We are the fashionistas in comparison with those in developing countries. I have more clothes in my own closet than entire villages. In the book, capital residents wore strange outfits, intended to be flashy and progressive. They applied outlandish makeup, the men too, and sported colorful tattoos and Henna-like designs. Plastic surgery altered their appearance and made them appear ironically uniform.

The book’s heroine, Katniss, found capital residents deeply disturbing. She and all the other district people were poor and did what they could just to eat. The “hunger games” exploited their need for food. The Capital viewed district residents (and, in particular, the kids) as expendable. What was the harm in killing off a couple dozen for entertainment? The tributes, those selected to participate in the games, might even want the opportunity to escape the slavery of district life.

The Simple Life

In David Platt’s remarkable book, Radical, he helps readers to gain a healthier view of the world. The subtitle of his book is Taking Back Your Faith from the American Dream. See, we in America can become so easily isolated from real suffering and hardship in the rest of the world, and there just might be a greater danger in the god we serve as a country — money, materialism, and consumerism — than in the idols worshiped in the villages of Asia, South America, and Africa.

On a week-long mission trip to Guatemala several year ago, I asked myself concerning the people’s simple lifestyle, Could I live like this? Would I be content with Cindy and the kids in a rudimentary home and town? The people we served were not impoverished, as they seemed to have what they needed and not much else. Yet I have everything I need and much of what I want, still I desire more.

[pullquote]We as a nation have become the nobility, the upper class, with our feet on the necks of the serfs.[/pullquote]We love what is disposable. We use up and throw away. Whereas in generations before when we spent wisely and saved, now we literally enslave ourselves by welcoming debt to satiate our desire for more, which is never really satisfied. We as a nation have become the nobility, the upper class, with our feet on the necks of the serfs, those who for a piece of bread slave away in factories to make our cheap clothes, which we can’t get enough of, those who labor in the field to produce a crop of coffee beans only to be fleeced by Starbucks buyers, because they know we love our $5 coffee concoctions — “extra whip please.” While our kids dictate the family schedule and budget with sports and other activities, there are children in the world who live in fear of being captured for the sex slave trade, an industry which would hardly exist if not for the deplorable appetites of Westerners.

We throw away food while the world starves. We litter the landscape with plastic water bottles while many in the world die of thirst or diseases related to contaminated water. We consume, and they are consumed.

The promise of the gospel is that this will all be made right. The commission of the gospel is that we who have been saved by the grace of Jesus exemplified on the cross are to be involved in making this right today. Let us shed our capital identity, and accept our new identity in Christ, who promised that if we acknowledged him then he would acknowledge us before the Father.

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