DEVOTED: The Gospel According to “The Hunger Games”

Elissa Emoto, staff writer | communication studies major

Two North Carolina pastors capitalize on a phenomenon by creating a “Hunger Games”-based Bible study.

Matthew, Mark, Luke…and Katniss Everdeen? According to the Huffington Post, Reverends Andy Langford and Ann Duncan of North Carolina created a youth Bible study to parallel the story of life in Panem—the future dystopian society Suzanne Collins’ “The Hunger Games” trilogy is based on.

This week the Hunger Games movie will premiere in theaters Mar. 23 and is said to be the most anticipated movie of the year.  The film’s box office sales are expected to be significantly greater than the last Twilight movie, “Breaking Dawn,” according to The Hollywood Reporter. Its star, Jennifer Lawrence, portrays the protagonist Katniss, and the pastors of two North Carolina churches are taking notice of her character’s Biblical underpinnings.

Senior Pastor of Central United Methodist Church, Andy Langford, describes Katniss’ commitment to revolutionize Panem as an imitation of the Biblical characteristics of Moses and Jesus.

“Katniss is willing to sacrifice herself for the sake of her family, her community and her whole world,” said Langford in a video posted on his church’s website describing the Bible study.  “And when other people catch a glimpse of what Katniss is willing to do, they begin to follow in her footsteps until the Hunger Games come to an end.”

The idea for the study came about when Langford’s daughter, Ann Duncan, Pastor of Hoyle Memorial United Methodist Church, saw the response of youth towards the books and realized leaders in the church could seize an opportunity teach about basic biblical themes within contemporary culture. The study is also meant to display how Christians may respond to culture calamity that surrounds us.

In an interview with the Christian Post, Langford shared that one of the Biblical messages is, of course, based on love.

“Sacrificial love … is the most obvious theme throughout all three books,” said Langford, who also added, “many of the characters have biblical parallels, which seem so obvious to us but most people missed [them].”

Images of fire and birds are being paralleled with traditional symbols of the Holy Spirit.  Katniss is also perceived as a messiah figure whose right hand man is Peeta, who may represent Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples. However, Duncan realizes that these connections can seem a bit far-fetched.

“We’re not trying to make it something that it’s not, but we’re trying to find themes that we as Christians can relate to,” she said in a press release about the study.

For the two pastors the analysis is still a relevant connection for youth today who are so heavily influenced by pop culture. The study is now available as an e-book on Amazon, which includes character analysis and highlights the themes of sacrifice and selfless love.

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