I’m reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. It’s by far the most horrible book I’ve ever read. I’m not saying it’s not entertaining or well-written. I’m saying the concept of children fighting each other to the death is horrible. (It’s also kind of cheap conflict.) Perhaps I’m finding the story particularly disturbing because I just finished reading The Robe by Lloyd Douglas, one of the most inspiring books I’ve ever read. The Robe, historical fiction, tells the story of the Roman guard who crucified Christ. The soldier, after investigating Jesus’ life, eventually has a profound change of heart, fighting for his convictions, and dying a martyr’s death. The themes include a reverence for life and an abhorrence of violence. Now I’m reading about children shoving knives in each other’s backs. Of course I know that a story is all about its context. What a story depicts is by no means what the author condones. A story is the epitome of the ends justifying the means. And yet I only half believe that. The fact that The Hunger Games disturbs me and makes me feel terrible is evidence that content matters, the experience matters, that impressions matter. We take all of these things with us, not just a moral that we pick up at the end. The concept of shocking and disturbing an audience so that they’ll lose their innocence and be better because off is arrogant and short-sided. All that being said, I’ll probably finish the book, because as horrible as the story is, the sad truth is, there have been many such horrible occurrences in this planet’s history, and I feel a partial duty as a human being to learn how to empathize with (and prepare for) desperation, tragedy, horror, suffering, and death. To gain such knowledge was one of the reasons Christ endured the atonement.