Hunger Bones

I recently saw a movie called Hunger Games (another in a long troop of dystopian movies/books).  I guess the movie is part of a series, because I saw a preview of another movie… which figures.

There is great restlessness in our hearts right now, isn’t there.  Great restlessness.  Very great restlessness.  We know something is afoot.

I digress.

My point about Hunger Games was that I recognized the actress from a far better movie: Winter’s Bone.  This movie is… gritty.  It is a view of our human dark side and the fearsome conditions of life many face.

The actress, Jennifer Lawrence, has talent.  But the talent is more evident in Winter’s Bone, which is, I am sure, why she got the part given the connection to the poverty imagery in the beginning of Hunger Games.

I’ll put the Hunger Games books on my Kindle wish list.

So much dystopian stuff going on.   Soon World War Z is coming out, for which I am already getting hazed.

What’s up?  Zombies! Vampires! End of the world movies!  Spectacular CGI of destruction of cities in movies!

I think we feel… we hear… that TEOTWAWKI is in the air, even if it is like the thin peep of the flitting bat at twilight.



About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. JohnE says:

    My wife and I were just watching a movie last night (embarrassed to say Hansel & Gretel — she picked it) but World War Z was one of the previews on the disk. I thought the very same thing that you posted. First the vampire craze, now the zombie craze. Out in theaters is After Earth. Seems like there’s been a lot of TEOTWAWKI themes in the movies recently.

  2. acardnal says:

    Curiously, “Winter’s Bone” was written and directed by a woman, Debra Granick.

  3. Perhaps what is afoot is the end of an era: the end of the reign of immorality, immaturity, and hostility to religion that has persisted for the last 40 years or so. That may not be all good; when the penduluum hits one side and starts to swing the other way, we may find that the other extreme has its faults as well, especially if we get to that other extreme rather quickly.

  4. Bosco says:

    When I was a boy so very long ago and had done something wicked, my Mother was want to say to me “Just wait till your Father gets home!”.
    I died a thousand deaths through expectancy and dread knowing that my Father would inevitably return home in the evening and I had to face a reckoning.
    I think there is an unconscious expectation of that in the air these days.
    Your Father is returning soon. The stomach churns. Get ready.

  5. inexcels says:

    “I think we feel… we hear… that TEOTWAWKI is in the air”

    I’m guessing that rather than a literal apocalyptic scenario (which is always possible, but who knows when it will happen) Fr. Z is here referring to the end of an era of human history, which is a lot more evident. Western civilization seems intent on committing suicide: for example, the EU’s ongoing economic collapse and growing restlessness; the US trying to become more like the EU (brilliant! let’s emulate a model that’s failing before our eyes!); and the fact that most Western nations are in the midst of demographic winter by having birth rates way below replacement level.

    Yeah, the world will probably undergo a radical transformation within my lifetime.

    And while I’m sick to death of zombies (World War Z? ugh), I have to admit that I too rather enjoy depictions of post-apocalyptic scenarios in general, probably for the exact reason that they’re an effective outlet for the sense that an era is passing away.

  6. Bosco says:

    Just a further contribution…I don’t know why but for sometime now I’ve been overcome with the impression of how lonely (if that is possible) Our Heavenly Father must be. How His Heart aches for some sign of affection or gratitude from His children.
    And I think too how that loneliness must alternate with a just indignance at His children who have forgotten Him so completely.
    I pray daily (and I hope it’s not a heretical sort of prayer) “Heavenly Father, You have Mercy on all of us all of the time, just this once have Mercy on Yourself and grant the radical and extraordinary Grace of conversion and repentance to all of Your children who are so lost that, unlike the Prodigal Son, they cannot even remember the way home to You”.

  7. Austin Catholics says:

    Fr. James Alison has some interesting thoughts on The Hunger Games and the connection to the Book of Joshua and lotteries.

    He calls the movie the “un-Glee”.

  8. majuscule says:

    My twelve year old granddaughter was telling me about this really good book she was reading– The Hunger Games. Curious about what kids are reading, I got it on Kindle. Sure, it’s gritty. But it does have spiritual, or at least moral elements. That was what impressed her the most. We were able to discuss ways our world might deteriorate into that world and how we might prevent it from happening.

    Of course I have always been interested in TEOTWAWKI. (Hmmm. My iPad just automagically suggested the whole acronym when I started to type TEOTWAWKI!)

    I would rather see her reading about the gritty “what if” world of The Hunger Games than the dark romance of vampires.

  9. babochka69 says:

    Father, The Hunger Games is available to borrow for free on the Kindle for Amazon Prime members.

  10. Marion Ancilla Mariae says:

    I, also, have the sense that we are on the brink of a new era, an era which people accustomed to the comforts and freedoms of middle-class American life won’t find particularly pleasant.

    I believe that over the last fifty years or so, American Catholics concentrated on “assimilating” ourselves into the larger culture. We assimilated all right; we have come close to assimilating ourselves right out of the Kingdom of God. Study after study reveals that a majority of persons who identify themselves as Catholics divorce as frequently, contracept as frequently, commit abortion as frequently, and vote for pro-abortion candidates as frequently as non-Catholics. Many of us no longer attend Mass on Sunday; no longer marry in the Church, and many of us choose to cohabit outside of marriage, just as non-Catholics do.

    Since we U.S. Catholics have done so excellent a job conforming ourselves to the World, the Flesh, and the Devil, I believe we have left the good God with little choice but to arrange things so as to set us apart once again. Since we have so conformed ourselves to the Culture of Death, God in His wisdom incites the Culture of Death to turn its rage and its fury particularly against His Church. In this way, we are once again de-assimilated from what we should never have assimilated ourselves to in the first place. We should have been evangelizing instead, our children first, and then others. We have done neither. And now, God has to step in and fix things. And we may be in for a “Fasten your seatbelts; it’s going to be a bumpy ride” era.

  11. Chris Garton-Zavesky says:

    On the way out to an appointment yesterday, I heard a news report about the surveillance debacle which is all about the newsrooms nowadays. I came to a conclusion which is, I hope, immediately relevant to our discussion here. There seems not to be a crisis of ideas so much as there is a crisis of trust, a fear that if you do what I wanted to do, then you will win the zero-sum game and I will be lost everlastingly.

    Then, I thought, if that’s what’s really wrong, is the solution more programs, or a moral renewal of our country?



  12. Suburbanbanshee says:

    I think it’s more like we’re doing a rerun of the Seventies — hard economic times, substantial changes in what’s considered “ethical” by the elite, and a lot of art being made by people without hope.

  13. my kidz mom says:

    Austin, your link to theologian Alison mentions the Hunger Games’ lottery in which “the winners get to die for the sake of the community.” Sounds noble, yes? Until you realize the “winners” of these Games were kids who won by gruesomely killing other kids. The adults allowed this carnage, standing by passively year after year, sacrificing their children to these Games, allowing them to lose their innocence and their souls. I had hoped to find some spiritual or moral elements in these stories, but alas they were too disturbing for me.

  14. Mum26 says:

    A moral renewal of society, that’s for sure.

    Confession and Latin Mass might be very helpful to accomplish this goal.

  15. StJude says:

    There is a lot of lack of hope these days. Our whole way of life seems to be fading away.

  16. Basher says:

    “””Austin, your link to theologian Alison mentions the Hunger Games’ lottery in which “the winners get to die for the sake of the community.” Sounds noble, yes? Until you realize the “winners” of these Games were kids who won by gruesomely killing other kids. The adults allowed this carnage, standing by passively year after year, sacrificing their children to these Games, allowing them to lose their innocence and their souls. I had hoped to find some spiritual or moral elements in these stories, but alas they were too disturbing for me.”””

    The plot of the book concerns the plight of the citizens who were made to endure this spectacle by the authoritarian overlords from the capital, the temptation they felt to take pride in the games, and the moral ambiguity of making the best out of being coerced into violence and barbarism. The protagonist subverts the games by refusing to take innocent lives, inspiring the populace to rebellion. That’s sort of the opposite of “standing by passively”. If the books have redeeming value, I think it is in providing a counterpoint to the video game culture. In the gaming world, it would be the goal to win the Hunger Games, by any means. The protagonist of the Hunger Games seeks to make morally correct decisions at personal expense, and agonizes over the correct choice of the highest good. Overall not a bad choice for readers of appropriate age.

  17. SKAY says:

    I read Hunger Games because it was on a reading list that my grandson had to read for school.
    I also found it quite disturbing for the same reasons that my kidz mom expressed..

  18. inexcels says:

    “If the books have redeeming value, I think it is in providing a counterpoint to the video game culture. In the gaming world, it would be the goal to win the Hunger Games, by any means.”

    Speaking as a gamer: Your assumption is wrong. Quite a few games make a theme out of subverting the initial goal. It wouldn’t surprise me in the least to play a game where you start out with the goal of “winning” some sort of death contest and along the way the goal morphs into subverting the corrupt establishment holding the contests in the first place.

    A lot of videogames have fairly confused philosophies and morals, but they’re not so easy to pigeon-hole as you might think.

  19. Mike Morrow says:

    Fr. Z writes: “I think we feel… we hear… that TEOTWAWKI is in the air”

    The term TEOTWAWKI is now a bit dated…replaced by the shorter, more generally applicable, and very descriptively emphatic (in an earthy way) term SHTF.

    [I think the terms are related, but not quite the same, much as all squares are rectangles but not all rectangles are squares.]

  20. Unwilling says:

    Hunger Games is (say I) a metaphor of the route, journey, career that innocent youth may take from feral, rural, suburban (less privileged) upbringings through pursuit of “professional” (law, stock trading, etc.) extreme competition in the big city where they are set against each other (dog-eat-dog) for the profit and amusement of the ruling parasitic elites. (I think I am agreeing with Suburbanbanshee to compare it to 1987 Wall Street.) In Bourne Identity (movie) a too-late-enlightened competitor, Professor, sums it up in his last words (repeated as Bourne’s last words in Ultimatum): “Look at us. Look at what they make you give.”

    It is a fair anti-materialist lesson, but I suspect it is intended to support the nihilistic and amoral philosophy of the “Occupy” movement; insinuating cynicism and despair, rather than celebrating family and spirit.

  21. Gretchen says:

    Yes, the term SHTF does give an earthiness to what is coming. Those with a mystical bent, those who are students of history, and some who just plain know how to read the signs of the times (I have friends in each of those categories) know that something big and dark is afoot. On the other hand, I have plenty of friends and family members who scoff at my Cassandra warnings that trouble lies ahead. Many of them are not able to connect the dots for one reason or another.

    That said, we just got back from seeing Man of Steel. I recommend it. It is so packed with Christian and Christological symbolism that I was almost in shock.[SPOILER REMOVED BY FR. Z!]

    I, who loathe the film industry and rarely go to films, would even pay to see this film again. It is full of the Christian virtues of heroic self-sacrifice and faith. With all that is going on in the world it managed to brighten my day and remind me of Immanuel.

    As for the Hunger Games, my daughter read the books and loved them. She’s in her 20’s. I’ve seen the film and felt it spoke about the themes of self-sacrifice and standing unbowed before raw political power. Will see the second film when it comes out…if the S hasn’t HTF yet…

  22. Maltese says:

    I like Native American terms. Get a shot-gun and some freeze-dried food at Walmart; but more importantly, get a blessed rosary and Scapular—and pray that Rosary every day!

  23. Maltese says:

    Actually, I spent four years of my training with and shooting an AR-15; so it’s my gun of choice (actually I have an AR-15 ‘pistol’; but it only has a shorter barrel). At 50 yards I can shoot a tight group. It’s all about trigger control–using the tip of your finger, not jerking it, and not being afraid to pull it, or the sound. The second thing is breathing: you breath in and out–half way–and then shoot.

    Quite honestly, I don’t like violent/apocalyptic movies; I prefer movies like Bruce Almighty! BUT, I don’t think a bit of prepping is a bad idea. I don’t want to be raped by a pack of Zombies! I just re-watched that infamous scene from Deliverance; imagine a hundred of those guys prowling about your neighborhood after a Katrina-like event!

  24. Suburbanbanshee says:

    That would be the version of Superman that’s crossed with the 1970’s Incredible Hulk or that old show The Phoenix. (Though to be fair, the TV Incredible Hulk was a fairly radical reinterpretation of the Hulk/Bruce Banner, mostly because you couldn’t be tossing around tanks every week on a TV show budget.)

  25. Jean Marie says:

    Yes, I agree – something very dark is coming soon. I keep getting a mental image of Obama as pharaoh, and we the faithful having to be delivered like the Exodus. Will our “Moses” be Our Lady? Also, the following passage from Zachariah keeps coming to mind….

    [7] Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that cleaveth to me, saith the Lord of hosts: strike the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn my hand to the little ones. [8] And there shall be in all the earth, saith the Lord, two parts in it shall be scattered, and shall perish: but the third part shall be left therein. [9] And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined: and I will try them as gold is tried. They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. I will say: Thou art my people: and they shall say: The Lord is my God.

  26. VexillaRegis says:

    Slightly off topic: I’ve never understood this fascination for vampires and zombies. The Sci-Fi side is completely boring and the masochist-romance side is revolting and risks putting wrong ideas about love into (young) brains.

  27. David Zampino says:

    I read all three books for the same reason many of the other posters did: I’ve got children of the age to which these books are being marketed.

    Call me crazy, but I found the books of extremely poor literary quality. There are places where the author just plods along in drudgery; there are places where the author completely telegraphs what is going to happen next. In my view, the second book was the worst of the three — basically a re-hash of the first book.

    I’ve read quite of bit of dystopian literature (for both adults and older children) and in my view these have been measured and found dreadfully wanting.

  28. JonPatrick says:

    One possible TEOTOWAKI scenario that worries me is a “counter-crusade” where the West becomes Islamic. This already seems to be happening in places in Europe, and is much further along in the formerly moderate secular middle eastern countries such as Egypt and Turkey. There might be an appeal to some people in a no-nonsense way of life with a strict moral code as a reaction to the chaos and moral decline of the West. Of course the Catholic Church could also provide that but I’m afraid the process of getting our collective act together might be too little too late. I hope I’m wrong as I don’t relish being a Dhimmi.

  29. JonPatrick says:

    Sorry that should be “TEOTWAWKI”

  30. Stephen Matthew says:

    Even those things not especially apocalyptic or distopian are taking a much darker tone. New Battlestar was grim and dark. New Batman was very grimdark. New Star Trek (09 and 13) involve more death and destruction. Even new Superman (Man of Steel) has threat of apocalypse, and actual destruction on a massive scale. There is trailer out for some sort of new movie involving giant ocean monsters vs. giant robots that’s most memorable line is a character giving what seems to a pep-talk capped with the line “we are canceling the apocalypse!”.

    Do we fear the apocalypse, is that why all of this? Or do we in fact long for it? hope for it?

    I think we know there is some great rot at work, that we are missing the deeper meaning of life. I think we fear that the apocalypse would be a just response to the rot, but that in a way we hope for some cataclysmic (and thus clear and obvious) struggle between good and evil to give our lives that deeper meaning we long for. It is not just a corrupt and decadent age that we feel is heading towards a fall, but rather it is too many lives lived without meaning or dignity yearning for something bigger than the individual self.

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