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At Home in Wakanda

Article by Greg Morse

We did not make it two steps into the movie theater’s front door before we were greeted, “What’s good, my brothas?” As he shouted to us over the masses in the ticket line, he crossed his arms, clenched his fists, and gave a slight bow — a Wakandan greeting.

“Ya’ll will understand after you watch it,” he said. And with that, he disappeared into the night, and we entered into Wakanda.

Overall, I was a fan of Marvel’s new blockbuster, Black Panther. It wasn’t “the best movie I have ever seen,” as one person told me repeatedly in the hallway, but it was one of the better Marvel films. The story picks up after the explosion in a previous Marvel movie where T’Chaka, the king of Wakanda, dies in the bombing. T’Challa, his son, then returns to his homeland to assume the throne and take his rightful place as king of Wakanda and as the Black Panther. But opposition arises, leaving the fate of Wakanda — and the rest of the world — at stake.

Having watched a civil-rights documentary beforehand, I found the ideologies of the two main characters to be thought-provoking. And although Black Panther has good action scenes, strong characters, a decent narrative, and helpful questions about global responsibility, the enchantment of the movie for many blacks in the theater was not, in my estimation, about the hero per se, but about the society. I left wanting to be like the Black Panther. But I left wanting to be in Wakanda even more.

More Than a Movie

In the movie, Wakanda is a fictional African homeland hidden from the rest of the world. It is uncolonized, technologically advanced, brimming with black excellence and beauty, industrious, mountainous, breathtaking. But the utopia itself, not the black superhero, hit an ancient ache that four hundred years in America hasn’t come close to soothing. We rally around superheroes like the Black Panther because we hope that they can lead us to Wakanda.

But such a place was make-believe. Or so I thought.

Even before I could watch the movie, I heard the trickle of Wakanda’s waterfall, felt the sunshine of her gladness, and witnessed her people dance to her music.

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by Russell Moore

June 1, 2017

This week marks the release of the latest DC superhero, Wonder Woman—and with the film comes a hubbub of conversation about what it means to be male and female in this supposedly post-gender society. Some are outraged that some theaters showed early release showings of the movie to restricted all-women audiences. Others are angry that the super-heroine apparently shaves under her arms (which no self-respecting island amazon would do, some say).

Wonder Woman is unperturbed by all this. She’s been in the middle of gender wars before. In fact, she’s been there from the very beginning.

There’s a reason, after all, that Wonder Woman was on an early cover of the feminist Ms. Magazine. Unlike other DC superheroes, she wasn’t the product of the imaginations of then-anonymous young men in garages or apartment stoops, longing for the extraordinary. Instead, she was the invention of a psychologist

William Moulton Marston, a scholar from Tufts and Columbia universities, was not a Stan Lee-type comic book marketing genius. He was just the opposite; he was one who thought comic books were degrading American culture, and he sought to fix it, with an Amazon princess.

Marston was more than just a psychologist and scholar. He was the inventor of the technology that later became the polygraph, the “lie detector” test. This idea showed up in the Wonder Woman comics (the golden lasso makes everyone in its grip tell the truth). He was also a supporter of the Progressive movement, an early feminist, and an expert on the mythologies of ancient Greece and Rome.

Marston feared comic books were too violent and depraved (as did many at the time). He located this depravity not in the medium but in its “blood-curdling masculinity.” So he set out to design a woman who comes from an amazon island, with no men and thus pacific. Wonder Woman wasn’t for girls (they weren’t the comic book audience), but for the boys. “Give them an alluring woman stronger than themselves to submit to and they’ll be proud to become her willing slaves,” he concluded.

It didn’t quite turn out just that way, but Wonder Woman transformed American society—and was transformed by it, becoming more aggressive in times when women were working factories in World War II, for instance, and more docile in the 1950s.

The resurgence of the warrior princess on the silver screen ought to remind us of the powerful mythological and cultural forces behind many of the contemporary “gender wars,” and that these are, in some ways, nothing new. The Apostle Paul, after all, knew about Wonder Woman.

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IM Film Review: American Sniper — The Old Wild West in the New Middle East


The Old Wild West in the New Middle East
IM Review of “American Sniper”

The title of this review reflects a line from American Sniper, Clint Eastwood’s reverent biopic of Chris Kyle, a sniper during the Iraq War credited with 160 kills, the most in American military history. It also reflects iconic films from Eastwood’s career. He, of course, is famous for his roles in westerns, portraying lone dispensers of justice in a world beset by evil. “In the universe of his films,” writes N.Y. Times critic A.O. Scott, “— a universe where the existence of evil is a given — violence is a moral necessity, albeit one that often exacts a cost from those who must wield it in the service of good.”

The narrative goes like this:

  • People are besieged by pure evil in the form of villains with no conscience who will stop at nothing to destroy what is good.
  • Most of the good people are impotent to stop the evil ones.
  • One man rises up (or rides into town) with extraordinary gravitas and courage to take a stand. He will not be persuaded to do otherwise.
  • Evil does its best to compromise or destroy him.
  • However, the good man is better and more skilled at dispensing violence, and thus evil is conquered.
  • He is also able to come to terms with himself and the impact evil has made on him.

American Sniper is, at its heart, a cowboy movie. It’s a great one too, a well-acted, gripping old-fashioned shoot-em-up that will have you cheering when the good guys win and the bad guys bite the dust. Its morality reflects pure black and white. It’s a hero pic with hordes of faceless enemies and one grand villain (though he is not characterized beyond a few mentions of his backstory). The dusty streets and rooftops could pass for the wild west, Kyle has a “posse” of faithful sidekicks, and his woman waits nervously at home, wondering if he will ever make it back to her.

fnd_mc_americansniperChris Kyle is played by Bradley Cooper, who does a stellar job portraying Kyle as a gentle giant with a job to do to preserve the American way of life. His character was formed by a daddy who raised him well, teaching him to shoot and take care of his gun, and giving him a simple, compelling moral view of the world. He tells him there are three kinds of people: sheep, wolves, and sheepdogs. Most people are sheep, they need protecting from the wolves that threaten them. The boy better not think of being anything but a sheepdog — strong, protective, using whatever means necessary to guarantee the safety of his own.

And that about sums up the depth of insight we gain into Kyle’s character. He has no demons of his own, only those inflicted upon him by his contacts with evil. Honorable from youth, he bides his time riding rodeo until the events of 9/11 move him to join the military. He serves four tours in Iraq. Some of his kills involve women and children and we see the pain this causes him. On his trips home between deployments, Kyle’s wife struggles with how distant he has become. The aftereffects from combat leave him increasingly estranged, and on occasion he shows a few signs of PTSD. But these are wounds inflicted from without, by his engagement with evil. He is not like some of Eastwood’s other characters, dark, mysterious men who have secrets in their hearts and past. Chris Kyle is a pure hero.

One of the weaknesses of American Sniper is that it doesn’t develop any other characters. Even Kyle’s wife, played by Sienna Miller, who gets the most screen time, is given the limited role of worrying about her man, keeping the home fires burning, and expressing hope that one day he will come all the way back and devote himself to the family again. Kyle’s buddies trade banter with him, there’s a lot of talk about “team,” and you know he’s there for them but it doesn’t get much beyond that. Eastwood’s Chris Kyle is truly the lone “Legend” in this film — set apart from everybody else.

The movie has been a huge box office success, and has generated a fair amount of political controversy. However, American Sniper ignores politics altogether to focus on this one man doing his duty. I, for one, am glad of that, because soldiers like Chris Kyle and his mates should not be caught in the middle of political wrangling. If you want to argue politics, let’s talk about the people who sent them to Iraq and the policies they enacted which made it necessary for young men and women to go into harm’s way.

No, American Sniper is not political, it’s something else. It’s mythical. That is why audiences are filling theaters to see it. Here, in the conservative heartland where I live, the movie house was packed and it was hard to find a seat. People hunger to see something with moral clarity and heroes, a story which validates their underlying beliefs. It doesn’t matter to them if it is 100% accurate or reflects all the complexities of war or the human psyche. Literalists will never understand this, but people are more shaped by their mythos and ethos than they are by analysis and reasoning based on facts. Chris Kyle represents a deeply ingrained American myth, one upon which director Clint Eastwood has built his entire career:

One man.

Doing his job.

Standing for justice.

Protecting others from evil.

Resorting to violence when necessary.

Coming to terms with himself.

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Psychotic Moses, Scientific ‘Miracles’ Doom Ridley Scott’s Exodus

  • Jeffrey Huston Contributing Writer

Psychotic Moses, Scientific 'Miracles' Doom Ridley Scott's <i>Exodus</i>

Release Date: December 12, 2014

Closing out the year of Noah, it’s natural (perhaps even necessary) to enter the theater for Exodus: Gods and Kings – the epic retelling of the Moses story – reflecting on what many faithful Christians found problematic with Noah, another big budget studio take on a scriptural narrative, and then see if Exodus replicates or avoids that problem.

My core takeaway from the Noah brouhaha was this: Christians are open to liberties being taken (whether for cinematic framework or even artistic expression) and story gaps being filled just so long as – and this is vitally important – you don’t change the core nature and character of the people (or the Deity) as the Bible describes them. This, ultimately, is where Noah went wrong for so many. The Rock Monsters may have been silly, but the third-act Noah was seen as downright heretical. So the question is, does director Ridley Scott (Prometheus, Gladiator) do the same to Moses?

Early on, it seems the worst license Scott will take is to turn Exodus into Braveheart and Moses into William Wallace, a liberty most Christians would likely forgive and even possibly cheer. Unfortunately, that’s just a first step toward crafting a tale so revisionist that its one overarching theme is to question if the Bible’s supernatural accounts actually have natural explanations, which then ultimately calls into question if Moses was ever even in his right mind to begin with. Worse yet, the film’s greatest sin ends up being how monumentally dull it all is.

Bypassing a “baby in a river basket” opening, Exodus: Gods and Kings – eager to get to the action as quickly as possible – starts with a young adult Moses living as part of Pharaoh’s family. It isn’t too long before we’re given our first big battle scene in which Moses (Christian Bale, American Hustle) and heir apparent “brother” Ramses (Joel Edgerton, The Great Gatsby) lead Egyptian warriors into the kind of large scale sword-and-sandal warfare we’d expect from the director of Gladiator. But just as Scott also ended up making the Crusades a bore in Kingdom of Heaven, so too here he makes the Exodus a watch-checking slog.

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What Hollywood gets wrong about heaven

Opinion by Drew Dyck, special to CNN 

(CNN) – The 4-year-old boy sees angels floating toward him. They start out as stars, then slowly become more visible, wings flapping behind orbs of white light.

As they approach, they sing a melodious song. The boy cocks his head, squints into the sky, and makes a strange request. “Can you sing ‘We Will Rock You’?”

The angels giggle.

So do people in the theater.

The scene is from “Heaven is for Real,” the latest in a string of religious movies soaring at the box office. Based on the best-selling book of the same name, the film tells the real-life story of Colton Burpo, a 4-year-old boy who awakens from surgery with eye-popping tales of the great beyond. The film took in an estimated $21.5 million in opening on Easter weekend.

Even Colton’s religious parents (his dad, Todd, is a pastor) struggle to accept the celestial encounters their son describes: seeing Jesus and his rainbow-colored horse, meeting his sister who died in utero, and talking to his deceased great-grandfather, “Pop,” who, Colton exclaims, has “huge wings.”

The book and film are part of a larger trend. Depictions of journeys to heaven have never been more numerous or more popular. There’s “90 Minutes in Heaven,” “To Heaven and Back,” “Proof of Heaven,” and “The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven,” just to name a few

So what should we make of such accounts? And what does their popularity say about us?

Some may be surprised that the Bible contains not one story of a person going to heaven and coming back. In fact Jesus’ own words seem to preclude the possibility: “No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven  the Son of Man” (John 3:13).

Scripture does contain several visions of heaven or encounters with celestial beings, but they’re a far cry from the feel-good fare of the to-heaven-and-back genre.

In Scripture, when mortals catch a premature glimpse of God’s glory, they react in remarkably similar ways. They tremble. They cower. They go mute. The ones who can manage speech express despair (or “woe” to use the King James English) and become convinced they are about to die. Fainters abound.

Take the prophet Daniel, for instance. He could stare down lions, but when the heavens opened before him, he swooned. Ezekiel, too, was overwhelmed by his vision of God. After witnessing Yahweh’s throne chariot fly into the air with the sound of a jet engine, he fell face-first to the ground.

Perhaps the most harrowing vision belongs to Isaiah. He sees the Almighty “high and exalted,” surrounded by angels who use their wings to shield their faces and feet from the glory of God. Faced with this awesome spectacle, Isaiah loses it. “Woe to me!” he cries, “I am ruined!” (Isaiah 6:5)

New Testament figures fare no better.

John’s famous revelations of heaven left him lying on the ground “as though dead” (Revelation 1:17). The disciples dropped when they saw Jesus transfigured. Even the intrepid Saul marching to Damascus collapsed before the open heavens  and walked away blind.

How different from our popular depictions. And it isn’t just “Heaven is for Real.”

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Heaven Is For Real
by Todd Burpo
Embarking on a short tour of the afterlife is all the rage, it seems. Don Piper got it started with 90 Minutes in Heaven, a really bad book that sold millions of copies. Then there was23 Minutes in Hell, another bestseller and another awful book. And now hot on their heels comesHeaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back. It’s currently sitting atop the New York Times list of bestsellers and has over a half million copies in print. I wonder if I’m the only one who finds it a mite suspicious that now that these books are selling like proverbial hotcakes, more and more people find that God wants them to tell their stories of heaven and hell. Probably not.

Heaven Is For Real is written by pastor Todd Burpo and it tells the story of his son Colton who, at age 4, visited heaven. His visit came while he was on the operating table after suffering a burst appendix. He told his parents his story several months later and his parents then waited 6 or 7 years to record it in a book. That book has shot to the top of the charts, resulting in many of you sending me emails to ask, “Have you read it?” So I went ahead and read it. Because that’s the kind of guy I am.

You will probably not be surprised to learn that this is not a good book. What I want to do here is offer a very brief review and then I want to tell you why you can legitimately dismiss this book and all the others like it, because I think that’s where many of us feel the tension—what gives me the right to dismiss another person’s experience?

I’ve already given you the broad outline. Colton dies (or something close to it) and visits heaven for an unknown period of time. He returns to his body and over the months and years that follow tells his parents about his time in heaven. He tells about spending time with Jesus, about meeting the sister he never knew he had, about fluttering around with wings, about the pearly gates, and on and on. Along the way you’ll get descriptions of Todd’s various afflictions and you’ll read the fine details of Colton’s battles with constipation and the great relief he experienced passing gas. Riveting stuff, this.

Every one of Colton’s experiences, or very nearly every one, follows a pattern. He tells his father some little detail. His father experiences a gasp or feels his heart skip a beat. “I could hardly breathe. My mind was reeling. My head was spinning.” A Scripture verse comes to dad’s mind that validates the experience. Colton gets bored and runs off. Repeat.

The story is told with short chapters and grade school-level writing. Fine literature it is not. The point of it all is to encourage you that heaven is a real place. Colton went there and his experience now validates its existence. Just like Don Piper went there and his experience validates its existence. Just like Bill Wiese went to hell and can speak with authority to tell you that you really, really don’t want to go there. Just like the Apostle Paul went there and told us all about it in order to…oh wait.

Now, what do I do with a book like this one? It seems to me that there are only a couple of options available to me. I can accept it, agreeing that this little boy is legitimate—he went to heaven and is now telling the tale for our edification. Or I can reject what this boy is saying—he did not go to heaven and this book is fictitious. If I go with this second option (which is exactly what I am doing) I now have two choices before me: either the boy (and/or his parents) is a liar or he genuinely believes he experienced something that he did not actually experience. I know which way I would lean, but I suppose that’s neither here nor there.

Either option is very uncharitable and each one leaves me with a further problem: on what grounds can I dismiss this as fiction, as a book that is completely unprofitable?

If I wanted to disprove Colton’s experience on grounds of logic or consistency I might point in a couple of different directions. In the first place, Colton is a toddler who speaks like an adult. His verbatim quotes sound nothing like a 4-year old, and I think I can say this with some authority as the father of a 4-year old. I’d also point to the fact that dad routinely remembers circumstantial detail that there is very little chance he would remember 6 or 7 years after the fact, something that, at the very least, tells me that he is filling in details where he feels he needs to. But there are better grounds.

The better strategy, I think, is to look to the Bible.

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Based on the true story of the greatest treasure hunt in history, The Monuments Men is an action drama focusing on seven over-the-hill, out-of-shape museum directors, artists, architects, curators, and art historians who went to the front lines of WWII to rescue the world’s artistic masterpieces from Nazi thieves and return them to their rightful owners. 

With the art hidden behind enemy lines, how could these guys hope to succeed? But as the Monuments Men found themselves in a race against time to avoid the destruction of 1000 years of culture, they would risk their lives to protect and defend mankind’s greatest achievements.

From director George Clooney, the film stars George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville, and Cate Blanchett. The screenplay is by George Clooney & Grant Heslov, based on the book by Robert M. Edsel with Bret Witter. Produced by Grant Heslov and George Clooney


We Don’t Have to Read the Book or See the Movie to Know Heaven Is Real

“Have you read Heaven Is for Real?” I’ve been asked this question more times than I can count. So let me just tell you—no, I haven’t. I was actually asked by the publisher to read the manuscript to offer an endorsement before the book came out, but I declined. And clearly the lack of an endorsement from me has not hindered sales.

HeavenisforrealtheaterposterI’ve been hoping that the hoopla surrounding this book and so many of the other “died and went to heaven and came back” books would end. And then I went to the theater over the holidays and saw previews for the upcoming movie based on Heaven Is for Real. So before you ask if I am going to see the movie, let me just tell you—no, I’m not.

Do These Books Encourage Genuine Faith?

People sometimes say these stories encouraged their faith or the faith of someone they know. But I think they actually diminish biblical faith by elevating claims of a supernatural experience over the substance of the Scriptures. Most of these claims of seeing into heaven focus on earthbound concerns and stunted human desires that lack what the Bible describes as the heart of heaven—the glory of God, the Lamb who was slain, on the throne of the universe. In embracing these stories we’re saying the Bible is simply not enough, that someone’s mystical experience is needed to verify or “make real” what God has said. But saving faith is putting all our hopes in who God is and what God has said as revealed in the Bible. It is being confident of what we can’t see (John 20:29Hebrews 11:1), not being convinced by something someone else supposedly saw.

Interestingly, Jesus himself spoke of the uselessness of such testimony for generating genuine faith. Jesus told a story about a rich man in the place of the dead who calls out to “Father Abraham” to go and warn his brothers so they will not end up in the place of torment (Luke 16:19-31). The rich man wants someone who has died and gone to heaven to come back to life and tell about his experience so that his family members will believe what the Scriptures teach about the consequences of failing to become united to Christ by faith.

In Jesus’ story Father Abraham says, “If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, (meaning, if they won’t believe what the Bible says) they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.” Jesus is saying that everything we need to put our faith in the promises of God, everything we need to find comfort and hope regarding the life beyond this life, can be found in the Scriptures.

Testimonies You Can Trust

There are only five testimonies of seeing into the realities of heaven that we are obligated to believe. These testimonies clearly develop rather than diminish biblical faith. There is Isaiah, who saw the Lord high and lifted up, seated on a throne (Isaiah 6); Ezekiel, who was given a vision of the future new heavens and new earth that he describes as garden-like city in the shape of a temple called The Lord Is There (Ezekiel 40-48); Stephen, who, before he was stoned by the people of Jerusalem “gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God and said, ‘Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God'” (Acts 7:55-56); John, who saw the risen and glorified Jesus seated on the throne of the universe being worshiped by all the people of the earth, all the creatures of the earth, and all the angels of heaven (Revelation 1, 4); and the apostle Paul, who was caught up into the third heaven and “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Cor. 12:1-7). Isn’t it interesting that Paul, who wrote most of the New Testament, did not include details about what he saw in his personal guided tour of heaven and said, in fact, that it should not be talked about?

None of these witnesses claims to have died and come back to life. None of these testimonies focuses on meetings with other people who have died. These witnesses are clearly captivated by God alone. We read that they fell on their faces as their eyes beheld the glory of God radiating from his being.

Of course, the Bible does tell us about some people who died and came back to life. Yet it doesn’t see fit to record their testimony about the experience. Evidently it just isn’t worthy of being presented to us as a foundation for faith. If it were, wouldn’t there be a book of Lazarus in which he gives us a run-down on those four days in the grave before Jesus called him back to life (John 11)? Matthew tells us that when Jesus died, “many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised” (Matt. 27:52). Amazingly that’s all we’re told. If the testimonies of those who have died and gone to heaven and come back to life provided something of value to help us to put our faith in the promises of God, wouldn’t the Gospels contain their testimonies?

How We Really Know Heaven Is Real

The question really isn’t about whether or not a 4-year-old’s description of heaven lines up with what the Scriptures teach. The question is whether or not we really believe that God in his Word “has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence (2 Peter 1:3). Admittedly the Bible does not provide as much detail about what awaits us beyond this life as some of us might like. It does tell us four significant things:

1. We will be with Christ (Luke 23:42-43Phil 1:21-23).

2. It will be far better than life on this earth (Phil 1:21-23).

3. We will be away from the body (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

4. Our spirits will be made perfect—completely cleansed of sin (Hebrews 12:22-23).

Since we know that to be at home with the Lord is to be away from the body, when one of these books describes physical bodies in heaven that are healed and whole, we know instantly that it is not a genuine account of the current realities of heaven. One day the physical bodies of those who are united to Christ will be healed and whole like the body of the risen Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22-231 John 3:2). But that will not be until the day Christ returns and makes all things new. Right now “we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body (Philippians 3:20-21).

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By: Eric Metaxas|Published: December 9, 2013

Young people are flocking to theaters to see “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.” So we probably should be prepared to talk to our kids about the movie. I’ve got some thoughts.

Eric Metaxas

Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the second film in the Hunger Games series, “Catching Fire,” set box office records, shattering the record previously held by the first Harry Potter movie.

Like the Harry Potter films, “Catching Fire” and its predecessor, “The Hunger Games,” is based on a best-selling series of novels aimed at a younger market. But that’s where the similarity ends. There’s no quidditch, wands, or spells. And while people die in J.K. Rowling’s novels, Suzanne Collins’s books are steeped in death, suffering, and sorrow.

Okay, there’s one other similarity: You can’t avoid either the book or the film series. So it’s probably a good idea to engage with our kids on the subject.

Collins’ trilogy—“The Hunger Games,” “Catching Fire,” and “Mockingjay”—is a dystopian tale set in a totalitarian successor state to the United States known as “Panem,” from the Latin word for “bread.”

The name is ironic and telling. Ironic, because while the inhabitants of the Capitol live in decadent splendor, those inhabiting the outlying districts barely scrape by.

The name is telling because the defining ritual of Panem is the Hunger Games in which two young people from each district fight each other to the death while the entire nation watches. Hence, panem et circenses, bread and circuses.

Collins’ heroine is a sixteen-year-old named Katniss Everdeen from District 12. She’s a reluctant heroine who only volunteers for the Games to spare her younger sister. After her victory at the games, she becomes a symbol of resistance.

That resistance is the “Catching Fire” of the title, a fire that the regime desperately seeks to extinguish, starting with Katniss.

As Alissa Wilkinson of The King’s College wrote in Christianity Today, Collins’ novels are a critique of “our entertainment-sodden culture.” The games are the ultimate “reality TV” show: People are literally eliminated by the competition.

In the arena, “things like bravery and skill with a bow might matter,” but entertaining the viewers can literally make the difference between life and death. When Katniss asks her mentor how one wins the games, he replies “you get people to like you.”

Not by being brave, bold, or pure of heart but by putting on a good show. Sound familiar?

That’s not to say that individual characters aren’t virtuous; Katniss and her co-winner Peeta certainly are. But Panem’s ideology—as in “a set of conscious and unconscious ideas that constitute one’s goals, expectations, and actions”—is about power and appearance.

There’s another aspect of Collins’ world that stands out: it’s a religion-free zone. The word “god” never appears in the novels, not even as an exclamation.

Thus, like many dystopian stories, hope is in short supply. When one evil is vanquished, we cannot be confident that what takes its place will be any better.

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