In Suzanne Collins's trilogy, and the recent movie
adaptation of the first book, the Hunger Games are a nationally-televised
spectacle in which 24 randomly chosen teenagers are forced to fight to the
death in a man-made arena. The annual Hunger Games are an instrument of
oppression by the Capitol--the center of totalitarian power that survived a
rebellion--to remind the 12 districts under its power just how powerless they
The citizens of the Capitol love the Hunger Games. To
them it is pure entertainment. To the citizens of the 12 subservient districts,
it is a form of torture. Their children and neighbors become murderers or
victims, and they are forced to watch (literally--viewing is mandatory).
There is a paradox at the heart of The Hunger Games' appeal.
April 4 issue of the Century offers Ruth Burrows's witness to her life as a
contemplative Carmelite; it also includes an homage to a community
of students shaped by their experience with Trappist monks, which in turn shaped Faith Matters writer Stephanie Paulsell in her
faith and thinking.
Yet Carmelite, Benedictine, Trappist and other
monastic communities find themselves in a precarious place these days, with many
of them closed or closing. Must we lose these Catholic (and Protestant) communities before we
realize that they are a profound presence
to those of us out wandering in the world?
I know some people who refuse to sit on church committees
because they think it's a waste of time. I've known some church committees that
prove them correct. In one case, the chair has become something of an
establishment. She's rather undisciplined, drags meetings out needlessly and
talks excessively herself.