The Hunger Games is this year’s Harry Potter and both are this decade’s apocalyptic for older children and youth (and lots of adults). Both feature epic conflict between good and evil. The attraction to youth is the magnetism of young heroes and heroines who make a difference in a big way. Most kids would like to be like them, i.e. that brave, capable, and ready. Given the realities of global terrorism, Arab Spring repercussions, and bullies at school, children can easily imagine themselves having to take such courageous action. So, apocalyptic begins to make sense to the them. Actually we may need to help them evaluate all the apocalyptic stories that come their way and choose which ones to adopt.
Harry Potter provides a classic plot with “good” versus “evil.” It follows the path of Tales of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings. Characters are forced to choose sides and called to sacrifice for the success of their side. Trusted mentors support them as they live out the consequences of their decisions. In the end good wins, though at high cost. The young hero/ines make mistakes, but none that are devastating. In the last scene “good” rules and all grow up to enjoy the benefits of that fact.
In The Hunger GamesTrilogy it is not “good” versus “evil” but all sorts of evil against each other. The rebels who seemed to be the good guys turn out to be questionable at best. One wonders at the conclusion whether the new government will prove any less treacherous than the one ousted. The young heroes and heroines are on their own, distrustful for good reasons of the adults around them. In their fight they murder and betray each other repeatedly. The winners(?) are not “the good” but those who fight most cleverly and fiercely, i.e. survival of the fittest. At the end of the last book the remaining “victors” pensively work through their traumatic memories by creating scrapbooks about all the people who have been killed by others and even by themselves. One does not wish in their place at all.
Biblical apocalyptic insists that though horrible things may happen, God is the strongest power in the universe and will win in the end. God is also with us as we face whatever suffering and challenges come our way in the midst of the fight. We are called to be brave and to follow Jesus even when it is really hard to do that. We are promised that even when we feel like nobodies we have the potential to contribute to the final victory of God’s people. To children this apocalyptic says:
You can make a difference
The world is not always safe.
There is a war going on between “good” and “evil,” between getting what I want and living as one of God’s loving people.
Horrible things happen to each of us during our lifetimes.
Sometimes each of us must be brave and endure hard times.
No matter how it looks at the moment, the bad guys will not win. God will.