Monday, May 14, 2012

My Review THE HUNGER GAMES & THE GOSPEL by Julie Clawson

Photo Credit: Patheos Press

Like many people, I loved THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy. The interesting thing about reading the series was that the profound themes laced throughout the series about love, survival, human value, justice, and many others. The series taps into some of the deepest questions of humanity. I came away from the series with a lot of thoughts about the world we live in and how Suzanne Collins’ story reflects much of what humanity struggles with. People see a lot of different things from reading a great story like THE HUNGER GAMES, so not everyone comes away from it with the same thoughts. Christians often read stories through a certain lens, often seeing reflections of the story of redemption. This is why we sometimes see books with titles like “The Gospel According to Harry Potter,” or “The Gospel According to Lost,” or “The Gospel According to Twilight,” and plug in almost any popular series and someone has probably written a book on how the stories plot, characters, and themes reflect the biblical story.

This can get cheesy sometimes, but I think what we’re really trying to do is connect big stories to a much bigger story. It’s interesting that when you look at most popular stories throughout history, it seems pretty clear that people love the story of Jesus, but don’t always necessarily love it in its truest form reflected in the Bible. People of faith believe that stories of trouble, a desperate need for a hero, and redemption at the cost of great sacrifice to the hero originated in a true story initiated by God. If we can reveal how stories that have relatively nothing to do with Jesus actually reflect the story of Jesus, and more importantly, reflect the deepest longings of the human heart, then maybe people will become more open to the story of Jesus and what it has to offer.

Julie Clawson is a writer who also loved THE HUNGER GAMES trilogy and saw several glimpses of the story of redemption laced throughout the story. In THE HUNGER GAMES AND THE GOSPEL: BREAD, CIRCUSES, AND THE KINGDOM OF GOD, Clawson connects some of the most profound themes of the trilogy to some very important concepts Jesus himself wanted to communicate. Using Jesus’ beatitudes at the beginning of his Sermon on the Mount as an organizing outline, Clawson shows how the world is desperate for the kingdom of God, and how the kingdom of God stands in sharp contrast to the world of THE HUNGER GAMES. Using many stories throughout the trilogy, she shows how the world we live in has many similarities to the nation of Panem. The core of the book is about Christians intentionally working toward bringing aspects of God’s kingdom a reality in the world as people seek justice, peace, love, a thirst for righteousness and all the other elements Jesus wanted to communicate about the kingdom of God in the beatitudes.

Though the book is about THE HUNGER GAMES and the gospel, there’s not a lot of discussion of Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection as the foundation of people’s redemption and reconciliation to God. Some people will be frustrated by this, but I understood the book to be tackling what Dallas-area pastor Matt Chandler describes in this book THE EXPLICIT GOSPEL as “the gospel in the air.” Social justice is an important part of the biblical gospel, and Clawson does a great job of encouraging Christians to pursue God’s kingdom in this way.

The book is a great exploration of the kinds of changes the gospel is meant to bring to the world. The hope of a better world is reflected throughout its pages, and it was also a great journey back through a truly captivating story.

I received this book for free for review from Patheos Press, and the opinions contained in this review are completely my own

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