I generally try to avoid as much of the popular culture as possible. Most is just trash and a waste of time so unless I have a reason to look at what is popular in the forms of entertainment, books, movies or music, I skip it. I usually only look into it when it crosses my line of sight if a Christian begins discussing something that sends up red flags or recommends it to me. A few weeks ago a friend pointed out that one of her teens had asked about reading “The Hunger Games” because another Christian teen had recommended it, but they, the parents, decided not to allow it due to the premise of the book. Now I recognized the title because I had heard hype about the movie coming out but I was clueless. When I had seen the title “The Hunger Games”, honestly, I thought it was a reality show like “Biggest Loser” which I have heard of before. But since other Christians were allowing their teens to read the book I thought I should at least check it out. At least confirm it wasn’t the latest dieting fad. Ha, boy was I wrong!
My oldest two (20 and 17) children said that several of their friends were reading the book and it had been discussed quite frequently. I asked them what they thought and they both said the book and its theme were rather stupid and they weren’t interested. Well good, but not exactly a Biblical reasoning. Was the rejection just a matter of taste or is there a Biblical reason to reject the book?
Now, of course, my natural inclination is to reject anything the world goes crazy over, usually that suffices. But when other Christians are thrilled over something then maybe it is of value or worthwhile. But then again, maybe not. Years ago when my oldest was just starting school I trusted a good Christian friend on her evaluation of C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia. I had never read it and when you have children who read voraciously it is very hard to keep up if you didn’t grow up reading sound Christian books yourself. In retrospect I may not have let my children read the Narnia series or at least not as first and second graders. Why? Read here. Not only that but I have actually matured in my faith since my first were young. Imagine that! My view of books and media through the lens of Scripture is quite different now.
So for the benefit of my children I decided to review “The Hunger Games”. But I’m not going to read the book nor watch the movie. Horrors! Review a book without reading it. Yeap! Just as I can write about the horrors of drug abuse with ever having taken illegal drugs, I can review a book without reading it, especially in this internet age. Since the book and the movie are very close I will focus mostly on the book. Generally the movie is said to be milder in the violence described and to have left out portions of the book.
For those who are clueless like I was here is the Amazon description of the book:
Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called, “The Hunger Games.” The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Kat’s sister is chosen by lottery, Kat steps up to go in her place.
That would be enough for me to avoid the book right there – “kill or be killed.” If it was turned into a video game, which I’m sure it will be, would you let your children play it? Generally as Christians, I think not. But we seem to think reading about killing isn’t as dangerous as watching it.
So how do you evaluate a book without reading it and with just a general idea of what it entails? First you start with your plumb line – the Bible. Then I would take ideas and concepts from the book and compare the ideology and doctrine back to Scripture. The hard part is recognizing the ideology behind certain concepts. Logic and deductive reasoning was sorely lacking in my public school education and I’ve yet to come across a curriculum that teaches that well. Any suggestions?
We are given some general guidelines in Scripture:
Philippians 4:8 (ESV) Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
1 Thessalonians 5:22 (ESV) Abstain from every form of evil.
1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV) “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.
That’s nothing new, we all know those. But often the argument is that the Bible is very clear about evil and describes it in detail – gory detail at times. However, the Bible is not literature, not even excellent literature, nor should it ever be lumped into a literature class, but it is the direct words of God to Man, its violence and gore is revealing human nature and how God has worked throughout time.
So I will break this review into several parts due to the length.