Because it had been raining for four consecutive days, we decided to go to the theater and see The Hunger Games: Mockingjay: Part 2. More about that in just a bit.
Ours seem like apocalyptic times—Paris, Mali, San Bernardino, more bombings in Syria by more nations and all that is part and parcel of perpetual war. Prior to going, I had read a blurb on the internet. Donald Sutherland, the notorious President Snow, said that the movie was about war and how we are manipulated into war. We know that perpetual war is a reality for us. It is good for the economy—for a few fat cats without consciences who reap the benefits of war. We know that our leaders, in the pockets of the benefactors of war, play the old Roman game of bread and games. We cheer on the men and women who have been duped into the war game at golf tournaments, baseball games, football games and at airport welcomes. We and they are led to believe that they are fighting for our freedom. Then, in turn we are asked to give up our freedoms in exchange for security. Actually our freedom to manipulate other nations and their national resources is the root cause of war. The Middle East is all about oil and securing and controlling the rights to that oil.
Listen to what Donald Sutherland wants from The Hunger games:
Donald Sutherland wants to stir revolt. A real revolt. A youth-led uprising against injustice that will overturn the US as we know it and usher in a kinder, better way. “I hope that they will take action because it’s getting drastic in this country.” Drone strikes. Corporate tax dodging. Racism. The Keystone oil pipeline. Denying food stamps to “starving Americans”. It’s all going to pot. “It’s not right. It’s not right.”
The Canadian actor has a venerable record of leftwing activism dating back to support for the Black Panthers and opposition to the Vietnam war, but this latest foray into subversion dovetails with promoting The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, the second instalment in a series of four films based on Suzanne Collins’s bestselling novels for young adults. It takes forward the story of Katniss, played by Jennifer Lawrence, who must fight other oppressed proles to the death as part of a tyrannical government’s strategy of rule through fear. The dystopia, called Panem, is built on the ashes of the US, and Sutherland wants young audiences to respond to the allegory. “Hopefully they will see this film and the next film and the next film and then maybe organise. Stand up.”
Back to Mockingjay: Part 2. Katniss is on a mission to remove President Snow, oppressor of the people of Panem. (The Roman Juvenal coined the term “panem et circensus”—bread and circuses.) Katniss with her bow and arrows represents Athena—Roman Goddess of War. She is also a Joan of arc figure. She unites the districts in Panem and marches on the capital to assassinate Snow.
The symbolism goes deeper. The Hunger Games play on the myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. After the son of the King of Minos is killed in Athenian games, the king demands seven victims from Athens each year to be fed to the Minotaur—part human and part bull. The Minotaur lives in a labyrinth underneath Crete. Theseus, like Katniss, sets out to kill the Minotaur and succeeds with the help of Ariadne.
The movie, like Advent, unfolds in an apocalyptic setting. Great cinematic effects highlight the violence and mayhem. Katniss is undaunted and slowly comes to realize that she is being manipulated by President-to-be Coin, who is leading the effort to overthrow Snow. Katniss realizes that Coin, as president, will bring forth more manipulation and oppression. She takes her out with an arrow to the heart when she is supposed to be executing Snow. She the mob of rebels deal with Snow. Katniss and the people prevail. Peeta overcomes his brainwashing and they live happily ever after. The final scene shows them with two children in an idyllic field of grass and flowers. Out of the dystopia comes a new and better utopia. There is hope.
Isaiah 29 bespeaks woe to David’s city and offers a promise of hope for the future. “The tyrant [ruthless] shall be no more [shall vanish].” (Is 29:20) Will Isaiah’s promise give us the courage to stand up to an oppressive government that thrives on fear and perpetual war? Will we dare speak of peace when they shout for more boots on the ground? Will we dare to examine the root cause of violence—poverty, lack of natural resources, injustices, and vast disparities in income?
Where is the Katniss who will deliver us from oppression? It is up to us. We are co-creators with the Cosmic Christ who is bringing all things to completion. It is becoming evident to me that the Christ is up head calling us to higher consciousness, beckoning us to awaken to new life. Advent, like Mockingjay, is all about hope for things that are not yet fully realized. The scripture readings for the Second Sunday of Advent fuel this hope.
Malachi 3 promises that the Lord is coming to his Temple, coming to dwell among us. The Lord will refine us like silver. Is this not a metaphor for raising us to greater awareness, to higher consciousness? Does this not promise that there is something beyond bread and games in Panem?
Zechariah assures us:
Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel; *
he has come to his people and set them free.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior, *
born of the house of his servant David.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old,
that he would save us from our enemies, *
from the hands of all who hate us.
Our hope is in God. God will set us free as WE cooperate in the work of bringing all things to completion. It is not about arming college students at “Liberty” University to take out the Muslims when they try to come onto the campus. The Cosmic Christ is coming to the Temple to dwell among us and set us free, free from the bondage fear, hatred, group-think, and injustice.
Paul praises the people of Philippi, “I thank my God every time I remember you, constantly praying with joy in every one of my prayers for all of you, because of your sharing in the gospel from the first day until now. I am confident of this, that the one who began a good work among you will bring it to completion by the day of Jesus Christ.” The Christ will bring all things to completion.
Quoting Isaiah, John the Baptist calls out:
“The voice of one crying out in the wilderness:
‘Prepare the way of the Lord,
make his paths straight.
Every valley shall be filled,
and every mountain and hill shall be made low,
and the crooked shall be made straight,
and the rough ways made smooth;
and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.'”
As co-creators striving toward Christ—the Omega Point—we straighten paths and level mountains when we live Gospel values—justice, peace, and compassion. We speak justice when there is injustice. We speak peace when there is clamor for war or armed violence. We speak compassion when the “least among us” are ignored and marginalized.
A new day is dawning in Panem.