The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – Movie Discussion
We took the students in our youth group to see Catching Fire. Afterwards, we all went to out for coffee and a chat about the movie. We simply asked them what connections they saw between Catching Fire and the Christian life. I want to briefly describe several of the insights our students had. Hopefully it will inspire you to have some of these conversations with people in your own life. And maybe some of their insights will challenge you and your faith as well.
Know Who the Enemy is:
It was easy to see the other tributes as the enemy; they were all in a fight to the death, after all. But the real enemy was the President Snow in the Capitol, who forced them to be in the position where they were killing each other to survive. They would have had no fight if President Snow hadn’t created one. Many of them would have been friends, if not for the fact they had to kill each other. They were not each other’s enemies.
The Bible talks about knowing who our real fight is with, too. It says, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 6:12). In the world as God intended, mankind would all live in perfect harmony. Sin is the enemy. Satan is the enemy. Man is not our enemy. We would have no fight with each other if not for Satan and sin.
- How does identifying the real enemy change the way you fight?
- How does identifying the real enemy change the way you see the people around you? (How did it change the way Katniss saw the other tributes?)
- How can you compare our enemy (Satan) and President Snow?
Katniss Didn’t Know the Bigger Story
Katniss is continually a little clueless about the part she plays in the world. She doesn’t realize how she’s inspired people into rebellion. (The book continually talks about how she just doesn’t realize how the affects people, the power she has.) She’s also totally unaware of the alliance and the plan to get her out of the games alive, although almost all the other tributes are in on it. She thinks it’s all about her, or her and Peeta—she has no idea the part she plays in the bigger story.
It’s not that it’s a good thing, or a bad thing, per se. It just is. Interestingly, it’s something we see a lot in scripture. The reality is that we are all part of a larger story. It’s not just about us. Our actions affect other people, usually far more than we know. And God is writing this story—this story where HE is the star, and everything is about HIS glory. We are all players in that story. To the point that we make Him and His name look good, we are heroes in the story. To the point that we make Him and His name look bad, we are villains in the story. There is a larger story going on, a story where our little story is simply a sub-plot. And, even though we may be unaware, God is still using our natures and inclinations and desires to accomplish His purposes. Just as Haymitch and the others were using Katniss’ nature and personality to accomplish what was needed in the larger scenario.
- How would it have changed things if Katniss had known the part she played in the larger story?
- Have you ever realized that you were part of a larger story than your own?
- Is there maybe a good time to be clueless about your role in the larger drama, and a good time to be more aware? Explain. (Is Katniss ever finally aware of her role in the national story?)
- Can you think of examples in scripture where a character was like Katniss – living out their own personal story, without realizing how God was using it in the bigger story He was writing?
The Least of These
Life is funny – the things we think are of eternal significance often turn out to be inconsequential. Then, the things we think are mundane and insignificant, (like getting groceries) turn out to be life changing in a monumental kind of way. That’s good. It keeps us on our toes.
It’s the same with people, too. The people we think are most impressive, often turn out to be duds. The people we overlook often turn out to be the ones we should have noticed. Katniss had a gift for choosing the most unexpected, surprising allies. Mags, the old lady? Nuts and Volts, the crazy people? (Rue the little, bitty girl in the first movie?) They are surprising choices. They are also wise choices.
Jesus also made very unexpected, surprising choices for his “allies”, his friends and followers. He didn’t chose the religious elite, he chose the least, the lost, the lonely, the captive and the sick, the sinners, murders, adulterers, prostitutes, lepers… They were surprising choices. They were wise choices.
- Why was Katniss drawn to the allies she chose? Why were they good choices?
- Why do you think Jesus chose the people he chose? Why were they good choices?
- How do you choose your friends?
- I Samuel 16:7 says, “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look at his appearance or at his physical stature, because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” How does this verse apply to the idea of choosing friends and allies? To Katniss’ choice of allies?
The Mockingjay Torture in the Arena
Katniss and Finnick were tortured when they heard sounds of loved ones being hurt and crying out for their help. It was all a lie though. One of the tortures in the games was designed to create a false reality. Even though Katniss could recognize that it was a lie, she couldn’t get rid of it. It consumed her and isolated her from everyone who could help her. In the back of her head, even though she knew Prim wasn’t around, she thought there had to be some truth to the lies.
The enemy does the same to us. He whispers lies to us, lies that sound like truth. Lies that we assume have to have some truth attached, and that’s the part we can’t shake. Even if we can see that the enemy is lying to us, it’s that possibility of the shred of truth that haunts us. It can consume us, and when it does, it isolates us from those around us who could help us.
- When have lies consumed you?
- 2 Corinthians 10:5 says to “take captive every thought and make it obedient to Christ.” Philippians 4:8 says to think about things are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent and praiseworthy. How could these two verses help you fight against the enemy’s lies?
The Arena wasn’t as Big as it Seemed
When they were in the arena, it extended as far as they could see. There was nothing else. Their life in that arena, that game, was it. It was all-encompassing. Except that it was a lie, an illusion. The arena wasn’t what it seemed at all. It was a smallish dome that they were in. It looked like it went on forever, but it didn’t. It had an end, and there was a life outside that arena. There was hope outside that arena, a different reality altogether. The life outside the arena WAS the reality, the arena was a lie. They just had to break through that illusion, pierce the lie and watch it crumble down. Once they did, the real world broke in and they were rescued.
This is such a fitting image for the way so many people live their lives, it gives me chills. So many people are in captivity, caught in this horrible illusion, this lie that feels definitive. They think that what they are caught in is all there is to life. The hopelessness is endless. They cannot see beyond their present pain, depression, sorrow, loss, addition, abuse, poverty, etc. I’m not saying that their life is false, I’m saying that it’s false, an illusion, that that is the ONLY reality, and that it has to go on forever. I’m saying that there is life beyond the arena, but that the enemy wants you, me, them (whomever) to feel that they must stay there forever. The enemy wants us to believe that this is the only reality for us. But it’s not.
Jesus came to set us free. He came that we might have life, abundantly. The present pain we are in is only temporary. It’s not eternal. We just need to break out of the arena that holds us. We need to see that there is a reality beyond it. Not only that, but there is help beyond it, ready and waiting, anxious for a moment to come and whisk us away. God longs to set us free. We have only to ask Him to do it.
- Have you ever been in a place that seemed eternal, definitive and inescapable? What did that feel like? Are you still there, or did you find a way out?
- How is life in that arena different from life outside it? For Katniss? For you?
So these are just a few of the connections our students made. There are SO many more to find. In fact, if you are interested in more, please go here. We are adding more and more connection points like the ones above, and they are slightly more developed, so keep checking back! Use them with your youth and friends as mini-devotions. The Hunger Games offer so many opportunities to connect to the scriptures in ways that are visual and powerful. Jesus used parables to drive his points home. The Hunger Games have numerous opportunities to work the same effect.
by Stacey Tuttle