Hunger Games: Friends and Frienemies

A devotion for Jr. High Students

In the book and movie The Hunger Games, all the tributes know that only one can be crowned victor.  Yet many of them form relationships.  Just like in real life, Some of these are true friendships and some are not.

Do you remember your first friend?  Are you still friends today?  When we’re young most of us make friends with the people around us because they’re available.  These relationships come and go, a few may stay with us, but as we get older the bar for friendship gets higher and higher.  We make more conscious decisions about who is our friend and what kind of friend we want to be.

During the 74th Hunger Games, Marvel, Glimmer, Cato, and Clove form an alliance.  They have lot in common: they’re older, well trained and confident;  they all come from (relatively) wealthy districts and they’ve received a specialized education.  They treat the games like fun and bond over hunting and torturing the other tributes, but each knows in their heart only 1 of them can survive.  When something goes wrong– like a trackerjacket nest, or their food being destroyed– or when they have no other targets they are quick to turn on one another.   They even pretend to be friends with Peeta, just so he’ll help them find Katniss, and then   Have you ever known anyone like that?  Someone who always puts themselves first?  Or mocks others to make themselves look good?  [allow for answers]

The Career’s friendship is very different than the relationship Katniss develops with Rue.  How would you describe their alliance?  [allow for answers]

They help one another, they try to protect each other.  When Rue dies, Katniss genuinely grieves for her and tries to honor her memory.  It’s that same kind of friendship that makes Katniss volunteer for the games in the first place.

Jesus said “No greater love has anyone than this:  that they would lay down their life for their friends.”  (John 15:13).  That’s the kind of love He showed for us on the cross, and the kind of love he calls us to show to one another.  It isn’t always easy, in fact a lot of times we fail.  But the alternative is living like we’re in a battle; remaining constantly on our guard, never really trusting even the people we’re closest to because we know they’ll hurt us the same way we would hurt them.

Discussion Questions:

  • Can you think of any other relationships from the book/movie?  How did they become friends?
  • Can you name any friends in the Bible?  What is their relationship like?
  • Based on this what are good qualities to look for in a friend?
  • How can you be a good friend?
  • What about Katniss and Peeta?  How would you describe their relationship?  How does it measure up to Jesus’s standard?

Church in the age of facebook (a what do you think)

Facebook recently filed paper work for an IPO and Slate writer Josh Levin found some interesting “Facebookisms” within the forms.  (The five he pulled out are listed below).  Reading over them it occured to me (via Amanda Baker) that we used to say/act like in similar ways in seminary.  However my local congregation (and i would venture many others) operate out of an entirely different mindset.  Is that harming us?

What do you think?  Would it behove the local church to move faster and take more risks with new ideas and ministries?  Or is the culture of Facebook something to be more opposed than embraced? (or is there something inbetween).

Facebookism No. 1: “Done is better than perfect”

Hackers try to build the best services over the long term by quickly releasing and learning from smaller iterations rather than trying to get everything right all at once. To support this, we have built a testing framework that at any given time can try out thousands of versions of Facebook. We have the words “Done is better than perfect” painted on our walls to remind ourselves to always keep shipping.

Facebookism No. 2: “Code wins arguments”

Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works. There’s a hacker mantra that you’ll hear a lot around Facebook offices: “Code wins arguments.”

Facebookism No. 3: “Move fast and break things”

Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.

Facebookism No. 4: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Building great things means taking risks. This can be scary and prevents most companies from doing the bold things they should. However, in a world that’s changing so quickly, you’re guaranteed to fail if you don’t take any risks. We have another saying: “The riskiest thing is to take no risks.”

Facebookism No. 5: “This journey is 1 percent finished.”

We encourage our employees to think boldly. We also have posted the phrase “this journey is 1% finished” across many of our office walls, to remind employees that we believe that we have only begun fulfilling our mission to make the world more open and connected.



Wisdom and Perfection in Tron Legacy

“I did everything you asked.  I created the perfect system.” –Clu

“I know…It’s not your fault.”–Flynn

If you haven’t seen Tron Legacy, I recommend it (and apologize for all following spoilers).  Yes, the movie has numerous faults, and no, its not as thoughtful as the original.  It is trying, nonetheless, to say some interesting things.  While watching it with the CSM youth last week, what struck me was this:  There is a very real difference between perfection and wisdom–between being good, and seeking the good life.

The premise runs thus:  After the fall of the MCP (see Tron), Kevin Flynn, enticed by the possibilities of User power on the Grid, sets out to create a perfect utopian system.  To this end he creates CLU (Codified Likeness Utility), in his own image, to carry out his will when he is not around.  All goes well; until a “miracle” happens–something Flynn neither planned nor created.  Flynn chases this new idea, CLU feels rejected, rebels, traps Flynn in the grid, and seeks to build the perfect system as originally  instructed.  Flynn, meanwhile, spends a lot of very humbling time hiding, pondering his mistakes.

Flynn made perfection (as he saw it) his central goal and source of meaning; he tried to play God.  In the process he convinced Clu that if he  worked hard enough and long enough, if he brought order to the whole system, if he lived up to expectations…then he would be perfect and, because of that, pleasing to his creator.  If Clu can just get every detail right, he will be loved.

I know I have been Clu.  I suspect most of us have at one point or another.  But after watching Tron, I think the bigger danger is being Flynn.  It is wrong to put too much pressure on our children–to ask for perfection in everything, even if we don’t really mean it.  It is risky even to teach them that “perfection” is the goal.  I know that sounds momentarily un-Methodist, but “perfection” for Wesley was not doing everything well.  It wasn’t even being a model Christian.  Perfection is to seek God in all things, to live for the Word of the Lord.  Yes, he felt that life would have some markers, but readily acknowledge that would would all fall short, probably often.  In the real world failure isn’t just an option, it’s frequently the outcome.  We learn more that way.

Flynn learns a great deal in his failures:  respect for CLU, love for Sam, the difference between might and power, the dangers of single-mindedness, the value of patience, the importance of sacrifice.  These he passes on to Quorra with great humility.  At the end of the movie, his greatest gift to Sam  is not the Grid or even Quorra, it is wisdom.

Flynn is opened to the wonders and possibilities of a world that is far to big and too strange for him to craft or control.  Sadly, the CLU he formed in his former image cannot get there.  The ideas of perfection and dominance are too far in grained; the pain of Flynn’s perceived rejection permanently mars their relationship. He cannot grow, he cannot marvel, he cannot forgive.  CLU does everything Flynn asked and in the end, it’s not enough because Flynn taught him the wrong question.

Some of what Flynn learns can only be won through age and experience.  But his mistakes with CLU aren’t necessary ones.  We can offer our children more than the unfulfilling pursuit of empty perfection.  We can teach them to do more than just “be good”.  We should set them searching for God; we should teach them to awe and wonder.  And we must walk beside them on their path, even if it’s not the path we would choose for them.  We can teach them to seek wisdom.

Then Job answered the LORD: “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.  ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have uttered what I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. –Job 42:1-3