I feel the need to come clean about something.

I do not usually ride the waves of popularity that catches most of the world in its wake. I haven’t read Twilight. I don’t know what the fox says. And I have definitely NEVER twerked. Most fads, I just wave to as they pass me by.

But there is one that I have gotten caught up in.

The Hunger Games

I didn’t actually read The Hunger Games until the movie came out (I did, however, read the book before I saw the movie). But since then (October, 2012) I have read the series 15 times. Well, I’m still reading Mockingjay. When I’m done with that, I will have read the whole series 15 times in just over a year.

You might ask why I torture myself this way. Let me explain. If you’ve read the books, you know that by the time you are done, you are an emotional puddle on the floor. I don’t like being a puddle on the floor. In fact, it can be a very uncomfortable place to be. But the lessons in The Hunger Games are so important I don’t want to lose them.

Lessons like:

What entertains you?

In The Hunger Games, children from the outlying districts are sent into an arena to fight to the death as ENTERTAINMENT for the Capitol people. These people enjoy, bet on, and eagerly watch The Hunger Games to see which child, out of 24, will be left standing at the end.

I never want to end up like that. After reading the book, I seriously sat down and thought of what I did for entertainment. I asked myself to really look at the implications of what I was entertaining myself with. Now, I’m not really into reality television (especially after reading these books where the show Survivor closely resembles the premise of the Arena except people aren’t actually killed), but I thought about the shows I do watch and the books I read. In re-reading The Hunger Games, it gives me a renewed desire to make sure I’m entertaining myself with things that would show honor and glory to God and lift up those around me.

What would you do to save your family and friends?

The whole books begins with Katniss (the main character) volunteering to go into the arena for her younger sister, Prim. The idea of her sacrificing herself for her little sister prompts thoughts of unselfishness in me.

When I read about Katniss and everything she does for other people (she doesn’t want to go into the arena, she just wants her sister to go even less; she doesn’t want to kill people in the arena, but she does want to protect those around her who are depending on her; she doesn’t want  to defy the Capitol, but she can’t stand the thought of more people dying and the Capitol succeeding again; she doesn’t want to become the face and voice of the revolution, but she can’t stand the thought of how many people will die if she doesn’t), it makes me examine my life and see where I have become so self-focused, that I have missed the pain, hurt, and discouragement that is going on around me.

What can one person do that would really make a difference?

As I mentioned before, Katniss becomes the rallying point for the Districts in their fight against barbarism and unjustness. I know there have been times when I haven’t done something because I thought that one person couldn’t make a difference.

That’s not true. Especially now, with social media, it is very easy for one voice to become thousands……And think of all the good that could be done if one person began connecting people all over the world with the same vision and passion.

There are many other things I think of as I read the books, but these are the ones I come back to time and time again.

Of course, all of this is brought to the fore-front right now with the release of Catching Fire, the second movie in The Hunger Games trilogy. In fact, tonight I’m going to see the movie for the second time.

Honestly, I don’t know when I’ve seen a movie adaptation that is this close to the book (with the exception of Pride and Prejudice which you can almost read word for word while watching the 1995 version). With that understanding, it is very intense, but brings up all these questions in my mind again.

So, I confess, I read The Hunger Games; I watch the movies; and, being an actor, I watch (read: obsessively find and view all) interviews with the actors. But, just as we are encouraged to do, I don’t read them mindlessly or only for entertainment. Through my Christian worldview, they become a jumping point for me to become closer to the world, friends, family, and, most importantly, my God.