Empire

Life Under Empire

“THE WORLD will be watching,” runs the tagline above a determined Katniss Everdeen, her arrow at the ready, on a teaser poster for The Hunger Games film. The phrase describes well the popularity of The Hunger Games trilogy, young adult novels headed to the big screen. The world has been watching, and reading, voraciously. Suzanne Collins’ dystopian tale of young Katniss Everdeen’s struggle to survive under the totalitarian government in Panem (the United States of some post-apocalyptic future) has captured readers’ attention, as evidenced by the continued dominance of the books—The Hunger Games (2008), Catching Fire (2009), and Mockingjay (2010)—on bestseller lists.

The country of Panem is ruled by a central Capitol known for its luxury and obsession with fashion and entertainment. Surrounding it are 12 fenced-in districts whose people exist in dire poverty—on the brink of starvation—and labor to supply the insatiable demands of the Capitol. To assert control, the Capitol demands that each district must send two children (called tributes) each year to compete in the Hunger Games—a televised survival game where they must kill or be killed in the fight to be the last one standing. Dreaded in the districts, the Games serve as the height of entertainment for the citizens of the Capitol.

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In The Stacks: Friday, March 9, 2012

Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.
Photo by Tischenko Irina/Shutterstock.com.

Among my must reads are the Sunday New York Times Book Review and other book reviews I come across in various media outlets. There are too many books being published that I would love to read, but just don’t have the time. So, I rely on reading book reviews as one way of keeping in touch with what’s being written. 

Here are my picks in this week’s books of interest:

The Feast of Christ the King

Stained glass panel in the transept of St. John Church, Ashfield, NSW.
Stained glass panel in the transept of St. John's Anglican Church, Ashfield, New South Wales. Photo by Toby Hudson via Wylio [ht

Today is the Feast of Christ the King, the last Sunday in our church year.

I always find it a strange feast to celebrate in a democracy, in which the whole point is that we do not have kings, but shared authority vested in the people and temporarily delegated to elected leaders. What does thinking about Jesus as a King mean to folk like us?

This year it is particularly strange, for, with the exception of the marriage of William and Kate, this has been a bad year for kings. Monarchs, tyrants, plutocrats, and autocrats of every stripe have found themselves under assault from a powerful wave of populism, as the citizens of country after country have risen up to hold their leaders accountable for their stewardship of their nations. Throughout the Middle East and in parts of Europe and the United States, the official narrative of power has been held up and judged against another set of ideas, one that speaks of fairness, liberty, and raising up the poor. Ruler after ruler has heard a cry that translates, roughly: “as you did it to the least of us, so shall it be done to you.”

Christ is a different kind of king, and his authority always calls our leaders to account, whatever the form of our government or our political preferences. Christ embodies a form of leadership that is rarely seen in our world. In the ordinary scope of things, our leaders wear nice suits and inhabit the corridors of power and cut deals with the wealthy and the powerful. Christ, however, threw in his lot entirely with those whom the doors of power shut out. He would talk with anyone, eat with everyone, and, in the end, died among the refuse of his people. He was a leader who led from below.

Is a Boycott of Murdoch and News Corp. Possible?

1100722-murdochboycottWith the scandal around Rupert Murdoch growing by the day, a full-fledged boycott of News Corp. has been launched on the internet, according to the Washington Post.

The website Boycott Murdoch also has Facebook and Twitter pages. While the boycott has received coverage on many mainstream news outlets, it has yet to gain much traction. The Facebook page has less than 700 fans and the Twitter page is approaching only 1,000 followers. To make even a small dent in Murdoch's bottom line, the boycott will need to metastasize, and quickly.

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