Sunday, March 25, 2012

Why We Will Watch The Hunger Games

One of my jobs as a parent, perhaps my most powerful responsibility after sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, is to teach discernment.

Discernment is literally judgment, insight, perspicacity, and the ability to separate truth from fiction. Every single person and thing on the planet is pushing to alter your perception of whatever he/she/it believes to be true, but unless we measure against Scripture for truth, we will believe anything and everything.

These people and companies want to influence our behavior and are doing it purposefully. They have a plan, and we are under attack. The only real weapon against it is the ability to separate fact from fiction and DISCERN what you are being sold as truth.

"This diet will make me sexier, and is GUARANTEED to work or my MONEY BACK, therefore, I can and will try it with no risk to me. This car ad has a fantastic song from my youth and looks cool, and THEY SAY it’s the safest on the road, so if I buy it, I LOVE my family. This politician goes to church, therefore he MUST be the best choice as a leader."

Think this doesn’t work? (Snort. You’re an idiot. Please, stop reading my blog.)

I don't know how you do it, but personally? I check Consumer Reports to see what the safety rating of the vehicles I consider is, not the commercials. I check the diet instructions, and if it says anything about losing more than 1 pound a week or that I don’t have to change my diet or exercise level, I know it’s not the truth. And I see what the man or woman’s leadership record reflects, not who he/she has or hasn’t slept with. Then, I choose. That is discernment in action.

Which brings us to pop culture. I know that this is shocking, but I have never shielded my kids from unpleasant things. How will they know the truth if they never have the opportunity to hear a lie? How will they be able to make good decisions out on their own if I never give them safe opportunities now?
For example: the twins were three and Carter was 20 months old when I gave birth to Lillian, who was only 1lb 9oz and went down to 1lb 4oz. (This is the size of a 20 oz. soft drink. And that’s exactly how long she was—12 inches crown to toes.) She was covered in tubes, wires, IVs, bandages, hoses. Her eyes were wrapped. She looked like a science experiment. Steve and I never even hesitated or had to discuss what to do about telling the children the truth about her chances and her condition.

We took photos and brought them home in a brag book and explained that Lilly was sick, but that we were relying on God to make her whole again. We showed them the photos. We explained in great detail what everything on her body was, even though they couldn’t understand. Several (LOTS) of people criticized us for that decision. I never considered any other option.

How can they learn about the power of prayer and the healing nature of God if they never see sickness? How can they learn about the amazing restoration if we never let them fail? How can they learn to pray unless they pray urgently and see us modeling it? We prayed as a family every day. They didn’t understand everything, but knew when I had to leave for hours and hours that I was going to take care of Lilly. They asked about her, and drew pictures and sent her kisses. I regret nothing about that circumstance. And I can tell you right now that if God called that baby home, they would have seen parents who trust in God no matter what.

This brings me to The Hunger Games (you can insert any pop culture thing you want to in that slot, but this is what I’m talking about right now.)

Obviously, not for younger viewers. Everything has a time and a place (just like I won’t be having The Talk with The Little Flower today or tomorrow, I won’t be taking her to the film either). I was on the fence about how the violence would be portrayed, but the review by Plugged In cinched the deal. I will be taking the Wonder Twins to view the film. (I made reading the book a condition for considering taking them, too.)

After the film, we will have dessert and discuss:

1. Why The Bachelor is a million times more damaging to our culture than this movie. I will also explain how it's the forerunner, or how you numb a society, for something like The Games. (And if you find yourself watching The Bachelor, but are anti-gay marriage, something is wrong with your spiritual radar--you can't call one a mockery of marriage and financially support the other one, which actually IS a mockery of marriage.) (I’m not being sarcastic—you have a spiritual discernment problem.) (Am I judging you? Okay. Yeah. I am. By your own actions.) (Which is actually called discernment not judgment.) (See what I mean?)

2. We will discuss reality TV, and if it’s really “real” or not (see how Katniss and Peeta are portrayed verses their reality at the beginning of the book, which is far, far from the same thing). How does the media manipulate what we see and how we feel about people who are on “reality” television? On the news? In politics?

3. What does it say about our culture that we put children on these reality television shows like Dance Moms and allow their emotions and fears and highs and lows to be exploited by their parents? How is that different than a fight to the death in an arena? How will their lives be different as adults? How would you feel if everything you did and said and cried about was on national television for everyone to see? What kind of culture does that make ours—a better one or a worse one? Why? Would you do that your kids?

4. In what ways does the government in the book manipulate its citizen? How does our government do the same? (Political ads, different bias in news media, what is reported and what is left out.)

5. What does God’s Word teach about true love? Oh, yeah, that it’s laying your life down for your brother, sort of like Katniss does for her sister? Taking her place as a sacrifice. Hmmm… I can see we are going to need more cake over here.

Think they won’t be able to get it? That I’m talking or teaching above their heads? You get what you expect out of your children, and my expectations are through the roof. The Hunger Games is a YA novel written for grades 6-12. There are no words in it above a fourth grade reading level. They will understand. If you don’t teach them active discernment, guess where they will learn it? Their friends. The television. The media. The school. And forbidden fruit always tastes sweeter. Why not make it a family outing and discussion about what we believe and why?

Here is a link to the Plugged-In review:
May the odds be ever in your favor.


Anonymous said...

Take 'em on down to the bar while you're out and go ahead and get them in that habit too. Can't start 'em too early.

The Mother Bear said...

Well, that's one way to look at it. lol But, we let them watch the dog give birth, listened to The Rolling Stones, and ate spicy food at three years old. It'll have to be your parenting judgment call.

The Mother Bear said...

Oh, one more thing, Anonymous...I only published you for a little fun. People who won't put their name to what they write are the worst sort of cowards. If you believe something, be brave enough to actually stand beside it.