“Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear… looks ahead.” Screwtape
The Hunger Games and Screwtape
Recently I saw an amazing performance of the classic C.S. Lewis novel, The Screwtape Letters. The play, brilliantly performed by award winning actor Max McLean, follows the schemes and thinking of a demon named Screwtape. The story is based on a view of spiritual warfare from a Hell’s point of view as told to a Junior Devil.
So, a few days later as I sat in the movie theater watching The Hunger Games, I was thinking of the psychology of evil. More particularly, the lies and temptations wrought by the Evil One. I couldn’t help but view President Snow as the Devil himself, a schemer.
The strategy of Screwtape and the artfully manipulative plans of President Snow seemed eerily similar. Much as Screwtape offered careful advice to his protégé, Wormwood, so too we see President Snow mentoring his henchman, Seneca. In a scene that was particularly “Screwtape-ish” we hear the genius of evil:
“…why do we have a winner?” President Snow asks Seneca. Then Snow answers his own question, “Hope.”
“Hope?” Seneca replies slightly bewildered.
“Hope, it is the only thing stronger than fear. A little hope is effective, a lot of hope is dangerous,” Snow declares.
“Spark is fine, as long as it’s contained. So, contain it,” Snow warns.
I wanted to stand up during the movie and yell, “Did you hear that!”
I wanted to stop the movie and talk about hope and fear. Moreover, I wanted to yell at the Devil and say, “You can’t contain it! You tried. You scattered the followers of Jesus Christ and watched them hide in fear on that dark Friday. You laughed when they brutally executed Him and put Him in a tomb. Ha! You thought you had contained Hope. You lose!”
This weekend we celebrate hope; this weekend we will worship our risen Lord. Billy Graham said, “The entire plan for the future has its key in the resurrection.” Death could not contain Jesus Christ. The great evil of human existence is that we allow fear to contain hope.
In a brilliant line from The Screwtape Letters, Lewis offers a remarkable insight.
“It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.” The goodness, the beauty, and the truth that is Jesus Christ continues to break in. The resurrection of Jesus is my blessed hope and it is through Him and by Him that the world makes sense to me.
If Jesus rose from the dead, then accepting Him as Lord and living according to His teaching is altogether right; if he didn’t rise from the dead, then what He says really doesn’t matter. What hangs in the balance is not whether or not we like His teachings, but whether or not he rose from the dead.
Gratitude looks to the past and love looks to the present,
fear HOPE . . . looks ahead.
2 thoughts on “The Hunger Games meets Screwtape”
Very nicely done. Lewis would be proud that people were making those connections in whichever culture. Evil is evil no matter what guise it takes, and the rhetoric is always the same. Blessings to you.
Thank you Michael, I actually read the Screwtape Letters about 18 years ago. What a treat to get to see McLean put the story onto the stage.
More particularly, I’m enamored with the antithetical postion that FEAR takes against the faith, hope, and love.
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