Scared $#!+less…metamorphosis

This week heard the phrase: if someone invented a shot that would keep dogs and cats puppies and kittens forever, they’d make millions.

Seriously…

I mean who doesn’t watch those vacuum commercials with the Golden Retriever puppies and go soft at the heart?

I’ve been watching in amazement my good friends’ baby has grown over the last 9 months. I held his fragile body in my hands the day he was born and a mere few months later, he’s almost walking, forming words, breaking in teeth and even recognizes me.

I watched an episode of a TV show I enjoy recently and heard this quote: “Change doesn’t care if you love it or hate it. Change is indifferent, intractable, and will not be denied.”

Change is the only constant. It is the only thing you can count on in the course of your startlingly short life and it’s the fabric of everything we know to be true.

It’s the war we have with existence. Even animals wear down paths to their watering holes as they go back and forth along the same predictable routes.

No matter what we try to do, we’re victims of our insatiable need for stability and live paralyzed by:

Metathesiophobia

“fear of change”

When we say “fear,” we’re talking about an emotional and even physical response to a stimulus we deem threatening or dangerous. The unknown, the disturbing, the upsetting and the deviation are classic anxiety-invokers.

I’m reading Donald Miller’s book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years (it’s wrecking my world right now) and came across this quote: “People fear change…Though their situations may be terrible, at least they have a sense of control; at least they know what to expect. Change presents a world of variables that are largely out of their control.”

When it comes to ourselves, some of us are the kinds of people who can’t eat the same cereal for breakfast every morning (anybody with me?) But others are creatures of habit (like my roommate) who has eaten the same lunch every day for the last four years.

But when it comes to our personal development. What we’re talking about might be:

Enissophobia

“fear of criticism”

We talked last blog about the fear of imperfection, but this one begins to strike a physiological chord with some people, because criticism might require change. It hits us either because we can’t handle the possibility of humiliation (gelotophobiafear of being laughed at) or even the shame of having messed up beyond repair (enosiophobiafear of having committed an unpardonable sin).

At the end of the day, we’re either the victim or the victor and I believe we have the right to choose. The immediate stimulus might paralyze us so that we do nothing (freeze) or scare us away (flight).

ARE YOU LISTENING?!

This is serious people! The fears of change and criticism are running our lives. You are allowing something to make decisions for you and to dictate your actions. In fact, some of you might be in such paralyzing bondage to these fears that you couldn’t move if you tried. YOU MAY NEED HELP!

This isn’t how things were supposed to be. I assure you: if you confront this, you will take away its power and one day these fears will be a memory long forgotten.

Are you stronger than your fear? Maybe you should start acting like it.

Scared $#!+less … the dreaded “f” word…

“I’m counting on you.”

That phrase could have been uttered by anyone. Maybe it was said from a boss, maybe it was said by a friend, maybe it was said by a spouse, but this time…

It was me.

Eisoptrophobia is the fear of what could happen. It’s the rehearsal of that conversation that happens in your imagination as you prepare to explain yourself…to you. Literally, it’s “the fear of seeing yourself in the mirror.”

What happens when you reach that point between “I can” and “I can’t”? There’s a combination of excitement and dread as you step across that line realizing that you’ve just passed a point of no return. You’ve just jeopardized everyone’s opinion of you and relinquished the shroud of mystery that keeps people far more optimistic than they should be about your potential and competency. The question is actually safer than the reality.

Atychiphobia

“the fear of failure”

There are two major issues when we talk about atychiphobia.

1) On one hand, we’re talking about how others perceive me. Once I give them the following evidence, I can’t take it back. If I embark into this unknown territory of my capabilities, everyone who sees me will have incontrovertible evidence against me. Because I’m terrified that I will fail them, I fear losing what little respect they have for me (that I’ve micromanaged to the nth degree) and stand on the premise: feeling inferior is unacceptable.

2) On the other hand, I fear the reality that I may have to face when I finally discover my actual limits. What happens when I always thought I could, even boasted about it, only to discover…I can’t? The internal humiliation is almost more than I can bear and it uncovers another one of my deeply rooted fears: atelophobia (the fear of imperfection).

Many people see perfectionism as arrogance… I’m sure you could find some unblemished narcissist that genuinely thinks that way but most perfectionists I know aren’t arrogant: they’re afraid.

Remember, fear is that weird instinctual reflex where my body, mind and emotions react without my permission. We’re afraid and maybe even irrationally, but what makes fear so daunting is the fact that if I could control it, I probably wouldn’t allow myself to feel it.

The issue is: when fear threatens to control us, what do we do? Are we so afraid of failing, of the truth we don’t want to discover, or of disappointing someone else that we fail to even try?

Whether this is a moment of panic: the split second decision of “do it” or “walk way;” or the long drawn out anxiety/dread of choosing a “road less traveled,” there’s still a fundamental need for courage. Remember: courage isn’t easier, but it’s the weapon we have against living as a slave.

“Courage is not the absence of fear but the mastery of it.”

Mark Twain

Your vocabulary word for today is:

Phagophobia – fear of swallowing

Scared $#!+less (part 2)

You know the ABC’s of CPR? Airway Breathing Circulation

You know the directions to give? “Go call 911 tell them we have a ___ who is ___ and THEN COME BACK.”

With all of the training I’ve received from the countless CPR/FA training’s I’ve been through there are only two things that actually freak me out. I’m pretty good in a crisis but if I encountered these two things I seriously don’t know what I’d do. Those two things are: amputations and infant CPR.

I don’t know why these are my triggers (fear’s like that isn’t it…a little irrational). I mean, burns, broken limbs with exposed bone, arteries bursting…there may be (in your opinion) way more terrifying medical emergencies you could imagine. But those two are mine.

What this tells me is that crisis isn’t actually that big a deal for me. In fact, it’s always the anticipation that robs me of sleep, that gets me to mentally rehearse worst case scenarios, and that triggers me to add things frantically to my “To Do List” at odd times. But once it’s here, it’s easier to face somehow.

One of the biggest concerns I have about our generation comes from an observation I’ve made over the last ten years. Little did I know that it actually has a name:

Decidophobia

“fear of making decisions”

Really?! There’s actually a clinical name for the epidemic plaguing our generation!? When I saw this I laughed and shuddered simultaneously (it would have been amusing to observe I assure you).

A few years ago some friends and I went on a Caribbean cruise. It was a blast and we used our lead up time before our departure to delegate out some tasks (navigation, packing special treats, learning the map of the ship, signing us up for meals etc.). It helped spread out the responsibility and made things easier but when all was said and done, it was I who volunteered to take on the task no one wanted: decision maker.

As amusing as it sounds, it actually made the entire trip smoother. Laura had the job of collecting everybody’s preferences and then getting them to me so I could make the decision of what the day’s activities would include, what time we’d meet for lunch, if we’d play shuffleboard or hit the pool, etc.

It’s not that I like making decisions but sometimes they’re unavoidable and the alternative of doing nothing is just as distasteful.

In all seriousness though, it’s disturbing. Look at this:

Teleophobia Gamophobia

“fear of definite plans” “fear of commitment”

There is a physiological response that our bodies, minds and emotions have when confronted with fear. These particular labels, however, describe stimuli that confront us with what we perceive to be a cage.

I talked with someone a few months ago about our generation’s obsession with “the backspace key.” It’s actually anxiety producing for us to consider putting ourselves in a place without escape (Claustrophobia). We’re so afraid not of the good selection we might have made or the positive place we may have ended up, but the sole reality that: there’s no way out.

These kinds of fears paralyze us. We miss opportunities and we actually convince ourselves that they are opportunities worth missing because the associated panic with having no perceived escape is worth avoiding. Do you hear this?! Good things missed because we’re unwilling to place ourselves in a potential place of regret.

That’s the real issue isn’t it? We’re afraid we’ll get something we don’t like. We’re afraid we’ll end up somewhere having rued our decision (ever ordered something at a restaurant that sounded good but was decidedly not?)

Some of you may need freedom from these fears.

Some of you aren’t realizing your destinies because you are entertaining these fears.

Some of you are stuck and THIS IS WHY!

Friends it’s time to get some freedom. YOU HAVE THE RIGHT TO CHOOSE! And you know what? You also don’t have to live with cherophobia (the fear of being happy). Don’t live in bondage.

Live free and make a decision for goodness sake.

As we go through this series, if something strikes a chord with you and you want help overcoming a fear in your life, leave me a comment and I’ll send you a declaration and prayer to help you dominate the fear in your life rather than be held prisoner by it.

Your vocabulary word for today is:

Omphalophobia – the fear of bellybuttons

Scared $#!+less

That moment when your heart starts beating a little faster…you know, when you can feel it in your ears…

It’s a mixture of horror… of disbelief… of regret…

It’s gone way past a simple adrenaline rush… it’s uncomfortable… maybe even painful… and all you want is for it to stop.

You think in your mind: can I make it stop?  FORCE it to stop… RIGHT. NOW.

Or maybe you think: where’s the nearest exit?  if I walk away now, it’ll all get better in a second.  If I can’t see it, it can’t see me.

Or simply: I don’t know what to do.

The emotion you’ve just experienced could occur for any reason as long as that reason involved a stimulus that invoked a negative emotional response commonly known as: fear.

I’m obsessed with the idea of fear right now.  I see fear running our lives and impacting almost every area of our generation and society.  It’s not a new concept.  In Genesis 3, the first emotion described after God said everything was “very good” was (you guessed it): fear.  Adam was “afraid” and so he hid.

Fear is absolutely always connected with the future.  Whether that future is a millisecond from now or a hundred years, there’s no way to fear the past (that’s called regret).  We always, always fear the future.

I’m doing a study on phobias which are fancy ways to identify the stimuli that we encounter which invoke these anxious or panic responses and motivate us to do one of three things: fight, fly, or freeze.

We’ll break this down over the next several posts, but I wanted to start off with the number one fear in our society today.  This one beat clowns, spiders and even death itself: public speaking.

Glossophobia

“fear of speaking in public”

Can we be honest for a second?  Picturing an audience in their underwear is the most unhelpful advice ever given to anyone ever.  It’s not funny and doesn’t actually defray my own anxiety about standing in front of people and making a presentation.

In my work with missions training, there is nothing more panic inducing than the revelation that all good missionaries will, at some point in their experience, preach a sermon.

Cold sweats, nausea and that general feeling in the pit of one’s stomach…yep it’s like clockwork.  Even the mere idea that preaching might happen motivates people not to learn and give a new experience a shot, but inspires them to mentally formulate innovative scenarios which often include self-administered injuries at critical points in time (ie. just before a church service) that will disqualify them from the assignment of delivering a message of truth to a waiting crowd.

We’re going to dive into this over the next few conversations, but honestly: what’s the big deal?

Many fears and phobias involve legitimately dangerous activities, such as:

Hoplophobia fear of guns                           Traumatophobiafear of getting hurt

Aichmophobia fear of sharp objects               Arachnophobiafear of spiders

Ophidiophobiafear of snakes               Selachophobiafear of sharks

Public speaking just isn’t one of those dangerous activities.  So what’s the problem?!  That question is not an indictment; it’s a curiosity.  I’ve seen people pass out, throw up, hyperventilate and even start sweating when they are about to take the stage.

There is something inside us that reacts involuntarily.  It controls us and tells us what we can and cannot do.  I want to figure out what it is.  Because I believe if we can conquer our fears, we can change the world.  There are messages that need to be spoken and I say:

THIS WON’T BE THE OBSTACLE THAT STOPS US!

As we go through this series, if something strikes a chord with you and you want help overcoming a fear in your life, leave me a comment and I’ll send you a declaration and prayer to help you dominate the fear in your life rather than be held prisoner by it. 

Just because it amuses me, here’s your vocabulary word for today:

Arachibutyrophobia – the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of your mouth

I Want a Nation: Australia and Oceania

Our last installment will be for all those incredible little islands in the South Pacific. Australia is the official continent, but Oceania will include all the people groups in the islands in the Pacific Ocean.

I’ve had the chance to visit Australia and New Zealand and there’s an incredible culture that is a clash of both the familiar and foreign. The Maori people of New Zealand for example are incredible warriors. The haka or tribal war dance is performed by New Zealand’s professional rugby team the All Blacks. Using mere intimidation, the warriors prove their fortitude by stomping, yelling and fierce body language.

The people I’ve met also have a beautiful expression of intimacy. Individuals in close relationship will put their foreheads together as a greeting and exchange breath. Literally inhaling what you’ve exhaled as a way to say “what is inside you I receive inside me.”

Australia was actually used by Britain as a veritable prison on the other side of the world. It was populated by the criminals of society who lived alongside the indigenous Aboriginal people and established a society that was tenuous at best.

The island nations have been populated by many European explorers and there is a wide mixture of cultures in the island nations. However it’s a place of cohabitation.

Australia – unknown southern land Fiji – home of the lookouts

Kiribati – trusted, bright son Marshall Islands – steward or caretaker of the horses

Micronesia – small islands Nauru – “I go to the beach.”

New Zealand – land of the long white cloud; sea land

Palau – indirect replies Papua New Guinea – frizzy hair, burnt or blackened

Samoa – holy center Solomon Islands – peaceable, perfect, one who recompenses

Tonga – southern, friendly islands Tuvalu – eight standing with one another

Vanuatu – our land

DISTANT SHORES AND THE ISLAND WILL SEE YOUR LIGHT AS IT RISES ON US!

May you be peaceful and unified! You are welcome to show us your beauty and use your voice to call the world to discovery and peace!

I Want a Nation: Asia

We’re in the home stretch here. I’ve held off on Asia because of a couple different reasons, the first is that Asia intrigues me more than just about any other continent, and second, because it’s absolutely huge. The variety of dominant cultures contained within the continent of Asia is more dramatic than just about anywhere on earth.

The middle eastern, soviet, Indian, and mosaic of oriental cultures notwithstanding, the variety of dominant religious hubs is among the most pronounced of anywhere else. Three of the world’s most popular religions call Asia their home. Hinduism, Islam and Buddhism all have their roots planted firmly in this area of the world and cultures in Asia have their distinction as much from their preferences and tastes as they do from their religions (or lack thereof when considering the strong atheistic stance some countries take).

Asia

muddy or silty, rising light of the East, resurrection

It’s marvelous to consider how a clash of such dominant cultures exist side by side and share a prophetic name. As with all the continent’s we’ve looked at, there are a variety of opinions about how and why the continent received its name. “Muddy” is a strong picture and could be descriptive on a number of levels.

In considering the Buddhism of eastern Asia for example, differing countries have differing stances on Buddhist doctrine. It plays out in the mixtures of these religions with common folk religions and superstitions. However, I believe a case can be made that the inhabitants of Asia, regardless of their religious affinity, understand the idea of devotion. Nowhere have I found such contrition and sincerity than those who practice Islam, Hinduism or Buddhism. It has been a convicting journey as I consider the sacrifices and disciplines I employ for my own religious stances.

And yet, written in the name is another meaning. Long has Asia been referred to as “the East.” It’s even said in Luke 2 that “kings from the East” followed a star which led them to Bethlehem. The rising light of the sun is the promise of a new day, a “resurrection” even. As we look at the diversity of beliefs, we can stand on one promise: there is a dawning light in Asia.

ASIA! WE CALL TO YOU AS CHRIST DID TO LAZARUS! COME FORTH!

Forsake your ways and commit your sincere, contrite hearts to the one true God. The Creator has a desire for intimacy with you. Live no longer as slaves. CLEAR THE MUDDY WATERS and walk forth clean and unblemished. From the middle east to the frozen north to the far orient BE RESURRECTED and show us all what new life truly means!

Afghanistan – land of the Afghans Armenia – assemble or create

Azerbaijan – land protected by the pagan holy fire Bahrain – the two seas

Bangladesh – land of the sun god Bhutan – highlands, land of the thunder dragon

Brunei – “there!” Burma/Myanmar – fast, tough, strong China – land of silk

Cambodia – weak, the least, unshaken East Timor – east island Georgia – tiller of the land

India – region of the Indus river Indonesia – east Indian islands

Iran – home of the free Iraq – land between the rivers Jordan – descend

Israel – land of the people who struggle with God Japan – land of the rising sun

Kazakhstan – independent-rebellious-wanderer-brave-free

Korea (North/South) – lofty, walled city, center Kuwait – fortress built near water

Kyrgyzstan – land of 40 tribes Laos – land of a million elephants, son of a pagan god

Lebanon – white, milk Malaysia – hill town Maldives – palace islands, garland

Mongolia – eternal fire Nepal – those who domesticate cattle

Oman – settled man Pakistan – (an acronym of the 8 major people groups of the area)

Philippines – land of King Philip (lover of horses) Qatar – port

Russia – land of the rowers Saudi Arabia – empire of the constellations Singapore – lion city

Sri Lanka – holy island Taiwan – terraced bay Tajikistan – leopard or tiger

Thailand – land of the humans Turkmenistan – land of the Turk-like people

Uzbekistan – home of the free Vietnam – south Viet Yemen – right hand

I Want a Nation: Americas

Continents are hard enough when considering the diversity contained within the nations that make up their borders without having two continents with the same basic name. North and South America are newer to the history books, but proud of their own heritage and just as rich and deep in ancestry. Consider the native American tribes of North America; the Incan, Mayan and Aztec cultures of central and South America; and the Caribbean flare to boot, we’re talking a wide, diverse, beautiful mosaic of stories.

America

ruler of his household, land of the prince, master workman, leader

Most of us were taught in school that America was named after the Italian explorer Amerigo Vespucci. This is the widely accepted background but a few others would say that “America” comes from the British name “Emeric” which is the British version of what Americans would call “Henry.”

To be honest, in my research it didn’t matter because the etymology of the names all came back to some common trends. Leaders, masters, rulers, you can see this trend of independence and authority woven throughout any version of the name. The question then becomes is what prophetic value these names have.

It would be easy to analyze this from our own United States perspective but it would be unfair and grossly disproportionate to apply a single prophetic word to a small population in one corner of the western hemisphere. So instead of taking what I know from my own culture, I want to just dig into the prophetic nature of these meanings and see what we find.

“Ruler of his household” was a meaning probably given by some of the brave explorers on their quest for liberation. However, what happens to a culture who begins to see themselves as masters of themselves and only themselves? Where does the sense of community go, the sense of family, where does it stop when one’s world begins to shrink but into complete narcissism.

If the Americas are truly “master workman” then what prophetic responsibility does that give but to create, to mold, to produce, or to set an example? There are many great things about the beginnings of the United States for instance but knowing what we know now, would we be as proud and how would we have changed our approach?

As we approach nations like Haiti which are in the process of national restoration or consider the revolutions in Argentina or the tumultuous present of Colombia, Venezuela, or Mexico, what do we wish and what is our prophetic responsibility here?

BROADEN YOUR GAZE AMERICAS! GRASP THE OPPORTUNITIES AND LEAD ON!

Stand tall and create something worth noting! May the history books be filled with successes, with contrition, with compassion, with consideration and with conviction! From Arctic to Antarctic flee the temptation to rule yourself and look to the hope unity can provide! You are MORE than the land of the prince, you are land of the KING of KINGS! Worship Him and Him alone!

Here are some country names in the North and South American regions.

Antigua and Barbuda – ancient and bearded Argentina – silvery land

Bahamas – land of the shallow sea Barbados – the bearded ones

Belize – muddy water, beacon Bolivia – land of Bolivar, windmill in the valley

Brazil – red wood, red ember, isle of the blessed, land of the holy cross

Canada – village, the land where “nothing is here” (referring to gold), where the river narrows

Chile – where the land runs out/ends; cold, snow, depths

Colombia – land of Columbus, Condor’s nest, march

Costa Rica – rich coast Cuba – abundant, fertile land, great place

Dominican Republic – belonging to the Lord, abounding in rocks, navigable waters

Ecuador – republic of the equator El Salvador – the savior Guatemala – the place of many trees

Haiti – mountainous land Honduras – depths

Jamaica – land of wood and water, land of springs Mexico – naval of the moon or “sun”

Nicaragua – water Panama – the place of many fish or the place of many butterflies

Paraguay – crowned river or the river that comes from water

Peru – river Trinidad and Tobago – island of the Holy Trinity, tobacco

Uruguay – shellfish waters Venezuela – little Venice (city of water)

There’s something special about prophesying over your own land. If you come from a place in the Western Hemisphere and want God to move here, then leave a comment and prophesy some life over these lands!

I Want a Nation: Europe

Getting back to our series on the continents and countries of the world brings us north to the epicenter of much of our recent historical and even religious development. This may be one of the most challenging areas of the world to talk about en masse considering everything from English to Soviet to Germanic to Roman to Baltic to even Middle Eastern histories must be considered (and many, many more). Even with such a melting pot of pronounced and established cultures living so closely side by side, I believe there may be an overarching journey that the continent has traversed.

Europe didn’t receive much attention in world history until after the time of Christ (sure you could consider Greek or Viking history, but we’ll consider the discussion continent-wide for now). But in the last two thousand years, we’ve seen a lot of action. From empires to kingdoms to regimes to wars there’s been a lot of movement. The evolution of technology, innovation, intellect, academics, politics, and a host of other developments, Europe has made an undeniable contribution to our world.

There’s a chatter around the continent as of late that Europe has moved into a place of “post-Christianity.” (The United States is not far behind FYI.) Atheism is at an all time high and a predisposed disdain or indifference toward the things of God is palpable. I’m convinced that missions in Europe is one of the most challenging mission fields on the planet. God bless those of you who are seeing fruit through European missions, I have a deep level of respect for your investment and contribution.

Europe

land of the setting sun (the “West”), wide face, broad eye

As with “Africa,” Europe was a hard name to break down. There are a host of different interpretations and etymological breakdowns for the word. The most frequent I came across in my research, however, was “land of the setting sun.” When compared to Asia (known widely as the “East”) it was noted for its contrast. Europe was West; Asia was East. Simple.

And yet, not so simple. The prophetic angle to this takes some time to look into. The setting sun is a picture of closure, it’s the end of the day. Yet, it’s the beginning of night. If I were analyzing this as a personal name, I’d look at it through this lens: descriptive, redemptive and as a charge or responsibility.

The dark of night breeds its own temptations and reputations. Scripture talks often about the differences between light and dark and especially the cautions against the “night.” If “descriptive,” we should look at the current state of things: what darkness do we see. Darkness is much easier to expose and expel if you know where it is. I think about the Red Light districts in Amsterdam or the fact that Moldova is the 2nd highest exporter of human slaves of any country in the world and I see darkness. I’ll revisit this in a second.

Second, if names are redemptive, then they are given as hope. It’s a beacon for us to always know that where there are pitfalls there always remains a best hope in God’s eyes. To whatever depths the darkness has gone, there is always hope of the sunrise to come.

Third, there’s a responsibility tied up in prophetic names. If this is true, than Europe holds a responsibility, which I believe many have seen and taken on, to show the people of the world how to navigate through a night. Not all of Europe lives in darkness, there is a strong remnant and history and proclamation currently underway.

MAY THE LIGHT SHINE!

From your coasts to your mountains to your back alleys, may the light and truth of God shine forth! Show us the way Europe!

I wanted to look into some specific countries and see what their names held as well. Here are some names to consider:

Albania – land of understanding, land of eagles Andorra – to walk the forest

Austria – Eastern march Belarus – white Russia; free; pure

Belgium – to swell with anger; bright; dazzling Bulgaria – the land that is shaken, land of disorder, split off

Bosnia and Herzegovina – land of running water; land of the duke

Croatia – warriors with horn-clad armor, mountaineers Cyprus – copper

Czech Republic – land of the Czechs (a famous legend) Denmark – the boundary, forest

England – people of the narrow waters, people of the meadow Estonia – land to the east of the sea

Finland – land of the wanderers, people of the fen Germany – the People’s Land; neighbor, battle-cry

France – spear, free, land of foreigners Greece – to grow old

Great Britain – the land of many trees Hungary – alliance of the 10 tribes

Iceland – land of ice Ireland – the fertile ground Italy – bull

Kosovo – field of blackbird Latvia – boundary land Liechtenstein – light stone

Lithuania – unite, pour/spill, lake, seashore, a rainy place

Luxembourg – little castle Macedonia – the tall ones

Malta – the land of honey, a haven Moldova – dust, mud Monaco – single dwelling

Montenegro – black mountain, restoring, harvest Netherlands – low lands, hollow, wooded land

Norway – northern passage Poland – open field, man who plows virgin soil

Portugal – port, to heat, beautiful Romania – Roman realm

Russia – land of the rowers Scotland – land of the forest warriors (loose translation)

Spain – land of the rabbits Sweden – land of one’s own kin

Switzerland – land of the Swiss (to burn) Turkey – strong Wales – land of foreigners

Ukraine – marches and borderlands Vatican City – city on Vatican hill, prophesy

Join the group and leave a comment prophesying over the countries of Europe. God’s moving there friends. It can’t hurt for us to speak some life over places and people that have become so near and dear to some of our hearts. Speak it out.

Why we like The Hunger Games (Part 3 of 3)

There are dozens of analogies and parallels I could continue writing about. The Hunger Games is not just an entertaining book, it’s a banner, a heart cry of a generation and we should pay attention to why that is.

We’ve talked about the morality of the story and why we’re intrigued by what’s right and wrong in this story. Then we discussed the identification with the harsh reality of the setting and our quick acceptance of the story that must take place in this time in this place.

There’s something to The Hunger Games itself though that I think connects with each of us independently.

Reason #3

The Hunger Games arena tests your limits. Our world has become so convenient and soft that we have no way to test our mettle anymore. We’re all asking the question: “could I win The Hunger Games?”

I saw this come across Facebook: “I jog because I know I’d be the first to die in The Hunger Games.” There’s something to this…it’s funny because it’s true. Could we outrun the faster opponent? Could we shoot straight? Could we throw accurately? Could we survive? Would we think about the smoke from our fire? Would it occur to us to sleep in a tree?

We’re trying to compare ourselves. The successful stories nowadays are ones where the world can be understood. Harry Potter is a perfect example. Everyone, even the most casual of skimmers would know that “expelliarmus” disarms your opponent. By the time Harry Potter reaches its later books, we’re arriving at the conclusion that the Polyjuice potion would be a useful tool in the plan before JK Rowling is telling us about it.

We want to understand the world because we want to determine what we’d do and the bigger question: if we could.

Limits are a big deal for our spiritual formation, especially in today’s culture. Moving from “I can” to “I can’t” is a line we rarely cross, are terrified to cross, are compelled to cross and fantasize about crossing. The stories we’re reading give us a shortcut. They’re proposing new challenges in new scenarios with physical, emotional, and mental components and we’re entertained not solely through the observation but from the question.

To this generation: there are real challenges in the world. If you really want to see what you’re made of and if you really want to see if God is who He says He is, we can take that journey. It doesn’t have to be enough to fantasize about what could be or what’s possible, we can see and I guarantee this: you’ll learn something that will change your life.

Next post I want to get back to our name study of the continents of the world. I’m fascinated by what I’ve found out and hope it inspires you the way it has me.

Why we like The Hunger Games (Part 2 of 3)

Kids killing kids? We’re horrified by the story! It’s a reprehensible thought and no one denies it. And yet we watch. It’s the Roman Empire all over again. Remember the movie Gladiator? Maximus gains popularity when he defies the system. He doesn’t give them the show, he charges and efficiently eliminates his opponent only to challenge the speechless crowd and chastise them with his famous line: “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?!”

But there’s something to note here, another reason we like The Hunger Games.

Reason #2

We identify with the harsh reality (even though it’s extreme) because it validates our own realities and liberates us to admit our realities are hard.

Okay, let me unpack this. The world of Panem is made up. Suzanne Collins invented it. It’s fiction. We could be horrified that she’d even suggest such a reality. In the past I think we would have characterized this as horror literature and pity the disturbed outcast demographic that would find it entertaining.

But today it’s different. We don’t read this because we’re looking for some sick pleasure. It’s not hard for us to accept that the setting is what it is. You know why? Because that’s how we have to view our own worlds.

We are entertained because Katniss and Peeta have a journey that they have to navigate. The government and President Snow might genuinely be evil but so what? That’s life. Our generation is cynical and has little faith in the system. We’ve been burnt by families, communities, churches, and even our own generation and it’s taught us one thing: how to survive.

Some of you have no idea what I’m talking about, but I hear it every day. Abuse, molestation, rape, criticism, perfectionism, demotions, evictions, downsizing, it’s all real. The world of Panem is extreme but it’s not hard for us to see threads of familiarity within it.

We don’t like the world of Panem but we accept that the story must take place within it. We don’t want to be in The Hunger Games but we care more about what we’d do if we had to instead of standing on a soapbox and protesting the mere idea.

Listen to a generation that’s finding solace in the validation of this story. It’s not a healthy worldview, it’s a coping mechanism and it has pervaded our entire culture. Speaking against it won’t change the culture, jumping into the trenches and guiding a generation through the challenges of the horrible realities they face and hear about everyday might be a better option.

One more thought to come. Stay tuned…