Tag Archives: love

The Hunger Games – Bad/Good (ask a teen)

Ave, imperator; morituri te salutant” These words were supposedly the salutation of Roman Gladiators, “We who are about to die salute you.” It is a homage of sorts, a tribute to the mighty State. Two-thousand years ago it was Rome. Today it’s Survivor or American Idol.  However you want to cut it up, the outcome is the same.  Sure, you get a hero, but the entertainment is watching the pain and suffering; it’s about watching one contestant after the other have their dream, their hope finally put to death. After all, “The Tribe Has Spoken!”

What’s next? In Suzanne Collin’s future world, next is Panem, and the made for TV mega hit, The Hunger Games.

Something good, something true, something beautiful.

I have spoken with several parents of young adolescents and they voiced a common concern. “My kid really wants to read The Hunger Games, but I just can’t let them.” 

“Why not?” I asked.

“All that violence, I skimmed through it,” a very responsible mother confided to me, “and I just think the premise of children killing children is horrible!”

“Fair enough, and if I thought that was the crux of the story I would agree, but I think the book is about something good, something true, and something beautiful.”

“What do you mean?” she asked.

“Love,” I responded, “it’s a story about this dark and painful existence in a world gone wrong — still, there is love, a I Corinthians, chapter 13 kind of love.”

Young Readers

It’s likely that a young person is going to read this book or watch the movie and like it . . . a lot. The question is “why?” A few weeks ago I sat with a group of about twenty-five kids who had read The Hunger Games. They came in on their lunch periodto discuss the book with some adults. Here is what we unpacked:

There is a clear and distinct villain in the story. We talked about violence, oppression, fear, poverty, indulgence, manipulation, and how that the “bad people” in the story put us off. Sure, there is the evil President Snow, but what about all those shallow people who have succumbed to the violence and oppression? The teens had no trouble seeing through to the hollow souls of the citizens of the Capitol. Say, these young kids are pretty smart.

See the contrast - a facade / the authentic Teens can see it.

The clear and distinct heroine of the story is Katniss, a wonderfully strong female character whose skills simple and beautiful. These talents represent her relationship with her father. Though this fact was a small offering at the beginning of the book, the students all nodded their approval when a freshman girl said, “I just liked the way Katniss and her dad related.” Her skills were used for sustenance, hunting for food — daily bread. The kids liked the relationship between Katniss and her father. Katniss is awkwardly good with relationships, and that seemed altogether good according the group of kids I talked to. (Every teen can relate to feelings of being socially awkward.)

Truth and Love

The MOMENT OF TRUTH is early in the story. Katniss’ young sister, the delicate Primrose basically receives a death sentence, and the good, true, and beautiful words are cried out, “I volunteer!” She is NOT volunteering to go kill other children; she IS laying down her life for save her sister.  In that moment we see a life poured out. It’s sad, but it is beautiful.

We talked about sacrificial love.  We discussed giving, serving, helping and caring; the idea of sacrifice was brought up and a student quickly noted how parents work and sacrifice to provide for their children. And the teens talked about the love of Jesus. He too sacrificed much. The Son of God looked at the judgment of the cross, the price to be paid for sin, and those words resounded, “I volunteer!”

Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” After all the pretenders and all the fakes have come and gone (the movie did a great job of re-creating a the outward facade of the shallow/lost cosmopolites) , only the Son of God will reign supreme.  “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” Mark 10:45

If you’re a fan of the Hunger Games, think about all that the Capitol represents. Base entertainment, acquiescence to outward appearance, and selfish indulgence, it’s a world gone bad, fake, and grotesque. “Truth” is what is left after all the facade is pulled away. Katniss is who we hope we can be in the face of all that is wrong.  She is an aggressive protector, but it’s hard to interpret her as a violent character.

Teenagers are not put off by the violence; they see that kind of violence everyday in middle schools across America. It’s the violence against every person’s soul (but that another blog).

Katniss is pulled from her world of family and a very stark existence. Welcome to the Capitol where appearance is everything and substance is a rare commodity. Welcome to the real world, except, there is not much that is real. (Do not love the world, neither the things in the world…” I John 2:15)   Katniss is introduced to indulgence at the grand level; here is the outcome of a world without truth — a society that is anesthetized by entertainment, food, and appearances (“…for all that is in the world is the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life.” I John 2:16)

Though her world may be stark, we learn that Katniss is rich in what matters most. She is rich in relationship, she is rich in spirit, and she has empathetic capacities that matter in this story. Mostly, she demonstrates selfless love.

There are a hundred other little nuances of The Hunger Games that cause me to reflect on my faith and the virtues of personal identity, character, strength of will, and hope. I have learned this, you might be surprised to learn what you can learn from a teenager and The Hunger Games.

Love seeks what is the best for those we love.


The Marriage Crucible: How I Know My Husband Loves Me

Here's Mick in his "other-centered" mode, helping me clean out my summer garden.

The scene: Our little home on Harding Place, eleven years ago.  My muscles were so sore from moving scenery for our Spring musical dress rehearsal I could hardly get out of the car.  I had just pulled into the driveway, bringing the girls home from school.  So intense were my body aches that I asked the girls to manage dinner.  They were 8 and 12 years old; this was an unprecedented request of them and they looked at me like I had suddenly turned into an alien being.

“Uh, okay…” Rachel said, and she turned to Rylee.  “Let’s have macaroni and cheese!”

“I love macaroni and cheese!” Rylee responded.  And they headed toward the kitchen while I walked into my bedroom.  I sighed, took off my shoes, laid down on the bed and waited for Mick to get home.  I had tunnel vision from exhaustion and was concentrating very hard on our bedroom window.  “Get home.  Please…hurry and get here.”  I needed an intense rub-down with Icy Hot, some ibuprofen and a nap.  I looked at my watch while I listened to the girls in the kitchen.  I prayed that there wouldn’t be some sort of accident with the boiling water, and closed my eyes.

A few minutes later I heard the truck pull into our driveway.  I was completely immersed in self-centered thought as I counted the seconds until he opened the front door.  I heard him come in, say something to the girls and hear their report of, “Mom needs to talk to you.”  I saw Mick’s shadow on the wall as he walked into the bedroom, but I didn’t turn around to face him.  Instead I said, “Can you please go get the Icy Hot and work on my back and shoulders?  They’re killing me; I need some help.”

When he returned to begin his task I closed my eyes and winced.  It takes a while until muscles are worked enough to where they can relax and respond to the treatment.  Somewhere in-between “excruciating” and “sore,” I noticed Mick’s hands and arms were shaking.  Surprised, I asked him about it.  He said, “Well, we had to move three aisles of inventory in the warehouse today, all by hand.  I worked almost three hours overtime in order to finish the job, and I’m really tired.”

I began to cry.  I asked him to stop, and to lay down beside me.  I said, “Let’s rest a while together.  By the time we’ve got a little energy back, the girls will have dinner ready.”  I had been so focused on my own needs I hadn’t even assessed where my husband was.  Our universes had intersected with mutually difficult and physically taxing days that had put both of us over our ability-to-manage threshold.  Yet he was willing to help ease my pain without even disclosing what he had just experienced.

A few years later I was reading a book called, “Constructing the Sexual Crucible: An Integration of Sexual and Marital Therapy,” by David M. Schnarch. As I turned through the pages, I thought back to that time when Mick’s arms were shaking from fatigue. Although written about providing therapy for clients with sexual problems, the premise of the book was that a couple is initially immature and “unspiritual” in their relationship, but at some point grows mature and “spiritual;” they pass into a vulnerable and ‘other centered’ relationship that becomes so deep a mystery is revealed –  the mystery of what it means to be intimate with one another, cognitively, emotionally and spiritually.

He quotes Sebastian Moore (1985) frequently when talking about this shift into a deeper intimacy.  I love the passage so much that I’m going to end this post with Moore’s words.  All the best to you as you find those moments of self-exposure, interdependence, hope and spirituality with those you love…~ Red Dirt Kelly


…Desire reveals its true nature when it comes into the moment of decision, either for the new initiate of self-exposure that makes possible interdependence, or for the cowardice that overshadows our society.  Love is ‘desire, decided for.’ (emphasis added)

…Desire is most nearly itself when, asserting my own goodness which is its source, I pass from dependence to interdependence whose soul is hope.  Then is desire most itself, so then am I most drawn – no longer by the obvious charm of another, but by the mystery that brings us together enlarging  that desire into hope. (Moore, 1985, p. 30)

Moore, S. (1985). Let this mind be in you: The quest for identity through Oedipus to Christ. New York: Harper & Row.

Gianna Jessen, The Book of John & Faith Wednesday

I love that we have wireless at my place of employment, AND that I can take a quiet moment when eating lunch.  I’m using this time to share my quiet moments of thought I had early this morning.  Thoughts that are still with me six hours later.

1) The Gianna Jessen video from 2008 is an interesting opportunity to revisit your views about life, death, politics and values.  Speaking in Queen’s Hall of the Parliament House, her message is delivered to an audience representing great diversity.  A message representing one voice, standing for many others.  If you’ve not seen the piece, I would recommend it for several reasons…One of which I address in my “second lunch-time point.” I chose to share this link because it’s her 16 min. speech in full, but will require a Facebook account to view.  You can search for the video easily in two parts on your internet browser if you avoid FB…


2) My second thought is this.  Regardless of what you believe, where you fall on this issue, or how you personally wrestle with feelings on one side of the line or the other, I would encourage you to embrace all human beings and think about loving them…without attributing a “sin” or behavior toward rationalizing how things are…or aren’t.

I was reading from John 9 this morning, and was thinking about how many clients I see in my office who struggle with the sins of their parents, or grandparents, or other family members.  Much of this “sin” is simply their family members’ inability to understand the consequence of their actions…or ability to empathize due to their own damage or pain.  Many clients feel they are being greatly punished for the sins or consequences of their family history.  Their pain is very real.

However, my message to you, the public, on this Faith Wednesday is this:  Turn these thoughts around, and think about the OPPORTUNITY your struggles or setbacks provide you to live out your faith, and glorify Him who you call Father.  Gianna Jessen does.  I try to.  Thousands of heroes and heroines do across the world every day.

Yes, this is a Christian message.  But it holds for people who have other faiths as well.  Or, for those without a faith to call their own.  Good luck, today, taking up the opportunity you have been given…with whatever struggles you are bearing…to use it to glorify and spread a positive message for your Savior.  For your faith.  And/OR, for the good of those around you.

Take care, Red Dirt Kelly

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 2His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”

3“Neither this man nor his parents sinned,” said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  John 9: 1-5