Tuesday, April 3, 2012
The Hunger Games and a Father's Dilemma...
When it comes to my children, I am very weary of the pop culture and its influence on them.
I realize that I can't raise them in a bubble, as my wife often reminds me, but there are so many subliminal and counter-Christian signals in today's society that I am very concerned about what they are turning our children into.
When I hear that 75% of all Catholic kids leave their faith, or at least stop practicing it, during their teens (and that applies to non-Catholic Christians as well), I am disheartened.
I was one of those teens. While, I never really left my faith, I started drifting by the time I got into high school and didn’t return to it for almost thirty years.
Although, there are many contributing factors to this, including family dysfunction and friends, in today's world the mass media has gained more influence on kids than ever before.
In fact, studies have shown that the the biggest influences on children these days are friends and the mass media.
Because of the deterioration in the American family, even among married couples where both parents are working, kids spend more time with friends and television then with their fathers and mothers.
Also, things were much different in previous generations. In the mid-twentieth century, for instance, kids would read more books and developed their own imagination from what they read. Radio changed that by putting voices, sounds and thoughts into kids' minds. Television revolutionized the way kids saw the world, by putting images to those sounds.
However, all books, radio and television programs and movies were filtered through a Christian world view. Whether a writer or movie director wanted to or not, he had to deal with good and evil from the widely accepted prism of an Absolute Truth, better known as God.
Unfortunately, that has changed.
With the watering down of Christianity, the rise in atheism, agnosticism and the new age movement, there is so much confusion that it was difficult for my generation to decipher what truth was and our children are being subjugated to much worse.
It is what author of Landscapes with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child’s Mind, Michael O’Brien, calls neo-paganism wrapped in Christian packaging.
In other words, in a not so distant past, witchcraft and spells were usually performed by evil or fringe characters seduced by evil. And, vampires were legendary demonic beings, who sucked human blood, had fangs, slept in coffins and terrorized the inhabitants of the area where they lived.
Today, they are the protagonists of books and movies, which top the best selling lists and make hundred of millions of dollars at the box office.
The latest entry in this pop-culture phenomenon of turning children's book series into multi-million dollar Hollywood movies is The Hunger Games trilogy, which despite my objection, my wife allowed my eleven-year-old daughter to read (which she devoured in about three weeks), because it's apparently all the craze in her fifth grade class.
I’ll be honest, after doing some research, I was not a fan of Harry Potter, for the witchcraft, warped perspective on good and evil and moral relativist aspects (among other things) and although for older kids, I definitely objected to the Twilight series for obvious reasons.
Although I have not read the books, what makes me queasy about The Hunger Games is that it is based in a post-apocalyptic world, where as in Potter good and evil, right and wrong is determined by the individual characters (relativism) and not by an Absolute Truth (God). In fact, there is no God mentioned.
Moreover, it is set in a pagan-style culture, reminiscent of Ancient Rome, where battles to the death, in this case between children (who kill other children for survival), are spectator sport and broadcast on national TV. Am I reading too much into this?
Just on principal alone, in a society that has seen its share of children killing children tragedies like Columbine and, to a lesser extent, Virginia Tech, because it involved older kids, I object to exposing kids to this message.
The fact that our children’s school principal sent a warning to parents that the school is not recommending The Hunger Game books for fourth graders and younger was another sound of alarm for me.
While my wife points out, my daughter is older, the message is still the same whether they read it in fifth or third grade.
Anyway, tomorrow afternoon, most of the girls in my daughter's fifth grade class have been invited to a birthday party for two classmates, where they will be going to watch The Hunger Games (since most of the class has already read the books) and thus my dilemma.
As a matter of fact, despite buying her the books to read, my wife had already told my daughter that she wasn't going to see the film. However, because of this party, and the fact that all her friends are going, my wife washed her hands like Pontius Pilate and let me be the one to choose between Barabbas and Jesus of Nazareth (over dramatic, I know!).
Mind you, over the past year or so, my relationship with my daughter has been a bit strained. She is maturing physically and, in the process, has withdrawn from me somewhat.
In her mind, I have become the “no” dad.
Monday night, she was unusually sweet as she asked me for permission to go to the party. She even agreed to read The Hobbit by Tolkein, which I have been trying to get her to read for months.
Now, I have to decide between following my fatherly instincts or further alienating her.
Decisions are definitely getting harder as they grow older...
What would you do?