Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Repost: The Hunger Games and My Stony Heart

This was one of my first posts back after my month off in August. I'll post the same warning now that I did then - this post has some spoiler information in it about the Hunger Games. If you haven't read those books yet, I highly (!!!!) recommend them. Great story-telling, interesting characters, powerful lessons that don't knock you over the head. And the trailer for the movie looks amazing. Anyway, the post isn't really about the books, but about choosing to be vulnerable. But read the books.

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While I was on my sabbatical, I read through the Hunger Games trilogy. Admittedly, I was a bit unsure about reading them. After all, I hated the last huge YA novel that took everyone by storm (15 pages of Bella's whining was quite enough for me, thank you very much). After being disgusted by the Bella, Edward, Jacob love-triangle, I had my doubts about the Katniss, Peeta, Gale love-triangle.

But this trilogy was just plain kick-awesome. I don't think I read them with the speed that my daughter did, but I devoted large chunks of time to reading them instead of doing things like fixing food for my children or talking to my husband. So yeah, I guess you could say that I liked them.

In the third book, the various districts decide that they've had enough of the Capitol's tyranny and they stage a rebellion with Katniss Everdeen (the heroine of the trilogy) as the leader. As the rebels work their way toward the Capitol, they must go through the various districts, each one known for a particular item that it produces or manufactures.

What struck me was when the rebels are in District 2, the district that houses much of the Capitol's military and police force and where they quarry rock. In order to control this district, the rebels must overtake the Nut, a mountain in the center of the district where most of the quarrying is done, and this means a large-scale explosion, which inevitably kills a number of people.

'The Ten Commandment Stones 4' photo (c) 2010, Sheona Beaumont - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/I love Katniss because while she yearns for freedom, she is deeply troubled by the death that must occur in order for that freedom to be secured. After the explosion at the Nut, she is reflecting in one of the more spectacular structures remaining in District 2, a large marble building that is used for Capitol business conducted in the district. Katniss walks the halls, looking everywhere at the marble and has the following thoughts,
As I descend the stairs, I can't help brushing my fingers along the unblemished white marble walls. So cold and beautiful. Even in the Capitol, there's nothing to match the magnificence of this old building. But there is no give to the surface -- only my flesh yields, my warmth taken. Stone conquers people every time. (emphasis mine)*
Despite the beauty and durability of stone, it proved lethal to many of the residents of District 2 in that chapter.

When I saw that line, "Stone conquers people every time," I couldn't help think of the stone tablets that Moses brought down from the mountain. Laws carved on stone, meant to teach people how to live. They existed to show people their need. The need to be good, good, good. The need for a Savior.

But those tablets were not where life is born. They are not the source of comfort. Life came from One who came and bled and died and rose again for you and me. Comfort comes when we realize that following those stone tablets can never be enough.

A heart of stone will conquer you. It will leave you cold and unbending. It will leave you unsatisfied. It will leave you alienated from others and ultimately from God.

A heart of flesh can be more easily damaged. It is vulnerable. But it is pliable and warm. It can receive and give comfort. It is where life can be planted and it is where love can flourish.

Let's not be conquered.

*Excerpt from Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins, page 209

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