Monday, January 23, 2012


This week's sermon at church was put together by the High School students.  it was based on Kurt Vonnegut Jr.'s short story, "Harrison Bergeron."  This story tells of a completely equal American society.  This dystopian equality is enforced by "handicappers" that try to basically level the playing field to the lest common denominator.

That got me to thinking (in the late hours of the night.. I had trouble sleeping).  Dystopian fiction is all the rage these days, especially among teenagers.  But not all dystopian fiction is alike.  In my mind, there are two types.

The first type of Dystopian fiction is fiction that at first thinks it's portraying a Utopian society.. until things are probed a little deeper.  "Harrison Bergeron" is an example of this.  The Giver is perhaps the example that is the most well known.   In The Giver, we are introduced to a world with no poverty, no want, no need.  The place has this Borg-like perfection.  Everyone dresses alike, acts alike.  All the families have the same amount of children.  All the children celebrate their birthdays on the same day.  It looks perfect.  Until change is added, and things are discovered, and we find that adding color to the black and white is dangerous.  These novels make you wonder about the validity of over legislating things.

The other side of the coin are the gritty, Survivor-esque novels.  Much like The Hunger Games.  the world is dangerous.  The government is corrupt.  People die.  It's a struggle to survive.  Since The Hunger Games became so popular a crop of similar teen novels have sprung up.

There has been a lot of discussion as to why teen like these types of novels.  I think it's rather simple.  This is the world that these kids are going to (likely to... possibly will) inherit.  Teens read the news, and most of the time the news isn't good.  Global warming, obesity, legislating morality, all sorts of bad things clutter up the nightly news every day.  They watched the peaceful Occupy protests end in showers of pepper spray and mass arrests.  They know what might be on the horizon.

I just pray that it doesn't happen.  Living in a Giver-like, or Hunger Games-like world is an awful prospect.

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