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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Hunger Games

By
Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Source: AmericanCatholic.org

Making U.S. Box Office history with the highest midnight opening ever “The Hunger Games” swept into theaters last week. The film is based on the 2008 best-selling novel by Suzanne Collins, the first book in a trilogy of novels that the author says “explore the effects of war and violence on those coming of age. “

This is a story for our times, a cautionary tale.
 
Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) is 16 years-old and lives with her 12 year-old sister Prim (Willow Shields) and withdrawn mother (Paula Malcomson) in District 12 is the post-apocalyptic event USA.
 
Seventy-four years before the events in the book take place a revolution against the then government occurred but failed. As punishment, reparation, and a form of control by fear, the government holds “games” in the Capitol every year. Each of the twelve districts must sacrifice a boy and girl between the ages of 12 and 18 who will go the Capitol, pretend they are having fun as they prepare to be on a reality television show, and then engage in a survival exercise in a vast outdoor arena where they kill each other off. Only one can survive.
 
Prim is chosen but Katniss immediately volunteers to take her place. The boy chosen is Peeta (Josh Hutcherson). Katiss and Peeta have known each other all their lives but they are not close. Katniss is shy be cause once when she and her family were starving after her fathers death in the coalmines, he gave her bread. He tossed the bread to her in the rain and now is embarrassed that he did not hand it to her. Instead Katniss’ best friend is Gale (Wes Bentley), a young man who has hunted with her in the forbidden forest beyond the electrical fences.
 
“The Hunger Games” is a story filled with moral dilemmas that the young people and those close to them must face in a controlled society with an omnipresent government that dominates its citizens. How to survive without killing anyone except as self-defense or defense of another, how to be part of the fake and banal world of celebrity television without losing one’s humanity, the many shades and obstacles to true love, family, and how to endure life with an all-seeing totalitarian government whose absolute power has corrupted the leaders and their hacks absolutely?
 
Katniss is the heroine from the beginning and Jennifer Lawrence’s performance is compelling and graceful amid terror. The moment where she mourns the young girl Rue in the arena moved me to tears. It is also a moment that changes everything.
 
I was watching one of the morning network news shows last week a day or so before the film’s release and one of the commentators described the film as “kids killing one another for sport.”  It’s too bad that whoever wrote the script didn’t bother to read the book. There is no “sport” in the “The Hunger Games” unless you count the ancient practice of letting gladiators battle for their lives against wild animals a sport. One late night talk show host made a similar crack; interesting that hardly anyone laughed. The mainstream media is at the service of the government in “The Hunger Games”. They make banality an art form though we discover that there is more to some of the people involved than meets the eye.
 
Everyone just wants to survive but some are ready to sacrifice everything that others might live.
 
Instead “The Hunger Games” is about young people of character and humanity where love and empathy dictate their choices over a totalitarian regime that rules by fear, hunger, poverty, control and the threat of death for no reason except control.
  Since the US has been engaged in wars by choice over the last several decades, violence and conflict have been normalized. Suzanne Collins’ examination of life under surveillance, the threat of violence and its effects on young people, family and society, is chilling but also serves as a wake up call.


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Josephine Bakhita: For many years, Josephine Bakhita was a slave but her spirit was always free and eventually that spirit prevailed. 
<p>Born in Olgossa in the Darfur region of southern Sudan, Josephine was kidnapped at the age of seven, sold into slavery and given the name Bakhita, which means <i>fortunate</i>. She was re-sold several times, finally in 1883 to Callisto Legnani, Italian consul in Khartoum, Sudan. </p><p>Two years later he took Josephine to Italy and gave her to his friend Augusto Michieli. Bakhita became babysitter to Mimmina Michieli, whom she accompanied to Venice's Institute of the Catechumens, run by the Canossian Sisters. While Mimmina was being instructed, Josephine felt drawn to the Catholic Church. She was baptized and confirmed in 1890, taking the name Josephine. </p><p>When the Michielis returned from Africa and wanted to take Mimmina and Josephine back with them, the future saint refused to go. During the ensuing court case, the Canossian sisters and the patriarch of Venice intervened on Josephine's behalf. The judge concluded that since slavery was illegal in Italy, she had actually been free since 1885. </p><p>Josephine entered the Institute of St. Magdalene of Canossa in 1893 and made her profession three years later. In 1902, she was transferred to the city of Schio (northeast of Verona), where she assisted her religious community through cooking, sewing, embroidery and welcoming visitors at the door. She soon became well loved by the children attending the sisters' school and the local citizens. She once said, "Be good, love the Lord, pray for those who do not know Him. What a great grace it is to know God!" </p><p>The first steps toward her beatification began in 1959. She was beatified in 1992 and canonized eight years later.</p> American Catholic Blog St. Paul talks about the Christian life as a race, and encourages us to run so as to win. So it’s not just OK, it’s commanded to be competitive, to strive to excel. But true greatness consists in sharing in the sacrificial love of Christ, who comes to serve rather than to be served. That means that this race St. Paul is talking about is a race to the bottom.

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