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Monday, May 14, 2012

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor (Because God Doesn't Exist)


Gina here :: Last month I went to a local ACFW-Richmond meeting. YA Author Roger Bruner (Lost in Translation) was speaking on plotting. He did a great job! In fact, he'll be sharing later this month on one of the side-topics he discussed. Well, also at the meeting was an author I hadn't met before. Jon Wakefield has written to fascinating books and writes some rather compelling blog posts, one of which I asked if we could repost here because it's relevant to our "right now." Welcome, Jon, to Inktropolis!!!


May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor (Because God Doesn’t Exist)

Warning: minor spoilers included in the following post.


As someone who loves movies, I have been increasingly disappointed over recent years as Hollywood has showcased an almost total inability to produce films not based on comic books that are original, intelligent, compelling, and don’t viciously attack my core values. At this point, I’ll settle for just one or two of the four (with emphasis on the fourth), but even something that simple is rare. Every so often, though, a movie nails all four, producing a deeply satisfying and thought-provoking experience.

The Hunger Games is one of those movies.

Okay, disclaimer time: I understand I’m opening myself to being labeled a bad Christian for choosing a violent movie that depicts children killing each other when I could have chosen the more uplifting October Baby, which celebrates the sanctity of the life, especially that of children. If you’re one of the potential labelers, please hear me out. What I have to say will probably surprise you.

Let me start with this: I hate violence. I generally avoid R-rated movies and often close my eyes when I know blood’s about to splatter the screen.

So why did I pick The Hunger Games? First, I had been told that it shared some similarities to my own novel, Fatal Reality, which is about a reality show host who takes the contestants hostage and pits them against each other in an anything-goes race where only the winner will be allowed to live. (I promise that I wrote this novel well before I’d even heard of The Hunger Games.) Naturally I was intrigued by the parallels. And based on what I’d heard about The Hunger Games, I also suspected it would not glorify violence, but instead condemn it, as I did in Fatal Reality.

I’m happy to report that I was correct. Big time.

But The Hunger Games aims much higher than simply condemning violence by illustrating how extreme it can get. It also illustrates the intense brutality and oppression made possible under a society where God apparently does not exist, as there is never a mention or implication of any higher power operating in The Hunger Games’s futuristic reality. The only authority is government—one that does not recognize any rights of its citizens.

This manifests itself in a class-driven society where the rich, ruling class (driven by a government/media complex) live separately and above the commoners who rely on the government for their sustenance (sound familiar?). And to scare them into submission and prevent rebellion, every year the government randomly selects 24 children ages 12-18 and pits them against each other in a battle for survival that does not end until only one child still stands. The commoners have no recourse against the ruling class—one so indifferent to the value of human life that it will even force innocent children into mortal combat in order to maintain its wealth and power structure, all while entertaining itself.

America was founded on the ideal that all men are created equal and endowed by God with the unalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. He is Ruler, and because he has stamped his image on every human, government has no authority to oppress its (God’s) people.

The Hunger Games brilliantly depicts what happens when government, not God, becomes Ruler.
The phrase uttered throughout the movie by those in power to those under their oppression is, “May the odds be ever in your favor.” This reflects the worldview of a godless society. People must rely on “odds” or luck in order to survive, because God doesn’t exist to intervene in human affairs.

I’m too lazy right now to research Suzanne Collins—the author of the novel the movie is based on—and what her beliefs may be, so I have no idea if she intended to perfectly illustrate exactly what happens when a society ignores God and instead submits to the Almighty Government. Intentional or not, though, that’s what she did, teaching that in a godless society there is no freedom, only oppression.

Every American 13 or older should see this movie. And while on the surface The Hunger Games and October Baby seem to be advancing conflicting messages, I believe they are actually advancing the identical message, using opposite approaches.

Life is sacred.


My novel, Fatal Reality, also advances this message, though it more closely aligns with The Hunger Games in approach. In Fatal Reality, the antagonist, Daniel Vats, tells the contestants that there is no God in their race to help them; Vats is the ultimate authority. He shows them how an existence that ignores fundamental human rights would operate. One of the underlying questions I pose to America through this story is, How far away are we from creating that type of existence?


Whether intentional or not, I believe The Hunger Games poses the same question.
~*~

JONATHAN WAKEFIELD holds a Biology degree from the University of Richmond and is an information technology specialist and a freelance writer. His inspirational thriller, Fatal Reality, is his debut novel and was a finalist in the 2009 Operation First Novel contest. His first non-fiction book, Saving America: A Christian Perspective of the Tea Party Movement, was released on April 15. Jonathan lives in Richmond, Virginia with his wife and two sons.


www.jonathanwakefield.com
www.teapartyforchristians.com

FATAL REALITY

In this race only the winner will be allowed to live. When media celebrity Kyle Borders wins a spot on Extreme Mortality, the biggest reality show ever, he’s determined to use the opportunity to live out his faith before the worldwide audience. Daniel Vats, the show’s creator, has never killed anyone, but he can hardly wait to start. Kidnapping the contestants, he thrusts them into a fight for survival of the fittest, forcing them to run a perilous race to the death-televised on live feed before the world-on a remote South Pacific Island. Who will live? Who will die? And why is Daniel so vehement about proving Kyle a phony? The shocking revelations will stun the watching audience.


Buy a copy today at Amazon 

8 comments:

  1. I thought the Hunger Games was an incredible book and a great movie. Jon, you did a great job pointing out her underlying theme regarding society and government. I think Christians could also draw interesting parallels in the fact that the main character chooses to sacrifice herself for another--expecting to die--and ends up turning the world "upside down."

    I'm looking forward to Catching Fire and Mockingjay! There are some interesting themes in those as well.

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  2. Great article. Thanks for visiting. I'm hoping to read the series soon. My seventeen-year-old daughter has read it and seen the movies, and she's a big fan.

    But, on the other hand, I saw some 10-year-olds in my neighborhood "playing" hunger games in the woods near the park. Quite disturbing. I think if you're young enough to want to "play" hunger games, you don't need to be watching it.

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  3. I've read all the Hunger Games books twice. They definitely make one think about society, propaganda, sacrifice, truth, and a whole lot of other big themes. Great conversations with my kids about these books. The movie was well-done, too.

    Nice having you here, Jonathan! Thanks for your post.

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  4. wow. i love this post. i haven't gotten to read or see Hunger Games, but I do want to. I will need to check out Fatal Reality as well. I think the point of having society becoming the be all/end all without God is a near reality. People bemoan the increase of violence in society while at the same time, mocking people who believe in a loving God. I guess they don't see the correlation.

    Thanks for visiting the Inkwell Jon. Glad you shared.

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  5. The English governmental system was also founded upon the principle that all people should have recourse to law, and the ruler should be accontable.

    The good old Declaration of Independance has certain echoes of a far older Declararion- Magna Carta. This did not admittedly grant equality to everyone (not the the 'unfree') but it was a start.

    "We have granted also, and given to all the Freemen of our Realm, for Us and our Heirs for ever, these liberties under-written, to have and to hold to them and their Heirs, of Us and our Heirs for ever"

    "No freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or disseised (dispossesed of land) or outlawed or banished, or in any way destroyed, .. unless by the lawful judgement of peers, or by the law of the land- to none shall we sell, to none deny or delay right or justice".

    It always makes me feel a certain pride that these things were thought up in England- and that Magna Carta is still relevant today.

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  6. I was a little leery of the Hunger Games. I found the premise a little disturbing. And my daughter is a big fan.

    But then when you compare it to works like 1984, Animal Farm, or Lord of the Flies, I guess it does make sense.

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  7. Jonathan, thanks for visiting us today - I know I'm late, but it's still "today" for two more minutes. I loved your post, love your book cover, and the premise of your book. It sounds interesting.

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  8. Hey, everyone. Sorry I'm so late in responding – my wife and I traveled to Ethiopia last week to adopt a child, so I've been a little preoccupied with that. We became a three-year-old boy named Amare's parents, but we actually have to wait another two to three months before we can travel back to Ethiopia and bring him home for good. It's a crazy process, but we're working through it.

    Anyway, thank you all for your nice comments about my post. I do hope some of you check out FATAL REALITY. Please be sure to contact me through jonathanwakefield.com and let me know what you think of it. Thanks!

    And thank you to Gina for allowing me to post!

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