A new movie, called The Hunger Games has recently been released onto the big screens in New Zealand. It's set in a future world where young people are selected from 12 rebellious districts as "tributes" to fight to the death on live television. It's reminiscent of ancient times, when human sacrifice was not uncommon.
Father Barron, in the video clip above, talks about why this story line is resonating with audiences today, and how Chrisitianity (when people are really living it) prevents human sacrifice from re-emerging in our cultures.
Why is it, that this dynamic of human sacrifice is so prominent in our culture ... from ancient times to today ... Rene Girard uncovered this dynamic ... discovered what he called the scape-goating mechanism ... tensions arise within human communities ... how do we solve the problem ... by this mechanism we choose someone to blame, someone to isolate, someone to ostracise, at the limit, someone to kill. We discharge our anxiety, our tension, our fear onto that person or that group. In that process ... we come to a kind of peace. Which is precisely why this kind of activity is sanctioned so often by the state, and by religion.
However in the Bible, the way out is shown. At the heart of the New Testament is a scape-goating victim, however this is not sanctioned by God, instead God identifies with the victim. That is how the scape-goating mechanism is unveiled and disempowered.
And now a new vision of life emerges ... which is based upon love and forgiveness and compassion and connection, and especially identification with the victim.
They don't play the game. Now it's deeply disconcerting to the powers that be...
Human sacrifice emerged right at the heart of those civilisations [Aztec and Roman].
See, I think we comfort ourselves, or flatter ourselves and we say of that could never happen ... I like the fact that the Hunger Games is set in a futuristic society where human sacrifice has re-emerged
I would argue that what keeps human sacrifice at bay is none other than Christianity.
When it re-emerges in Christian societies, then those societies have lost their way, they've lost their connection with the heart of the Christian faith. You can see that in times gone past when witch burnings became popular, or the gruesome killing of heretics, or today where we have millions of unborn babies sacrificed so that society can continue to believe that human sexuality can be let loose from love and commitment.
It looks like a very interesting movie. I'm going to have to go and see it.
Related link: Fr. Barron comments on "The Hunger Games" (SPOILERS) ~ Word on Fire