Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Hunger Games - Christian Symbolism?

I've just finished reading the first book of The Hunger Games Trilogy. I really enjoyed it actually. I was inspired to read it after seeing the video for Coldplay's Atlas single (which is on the soundtrack to Catching Fire - the second Hunger Games movie). The video looked a little bit esoteric and it aroused my curiosity. I wasn't really aware of The Hunger Games at that point. In fact, the first time I'd even heard the name was just a few months ago when a younger, cooler girl I work with asked me if I'd read them, and then looked in horror when I said I didn't even know what they were.

Having seen the Coldplay video, I then had a little Google search and came across various conspiracies suggesting that the book and movie franchise are part of some New World Order template to prepare the ground for a real life 'hunger games' of the not too distant future. That kinda made me wanna go and read the books more.

Anyway, reading the first one I was more struck by the Christian symbolism than by any Illuminati nods and winks. I don't know if this symbolism is intentional, but I found it quite striking. Bread is a symbol of 'hope' throughout the book. There are 12 districts in Panem (the nation where it's set), there were 13 but one was destroyed - the crucified Jesus and his twelve disciples? The Capitol (the central controlling metropolis) is Rome (complete with Roman names - Octavia, Flavius, etc). The Games where the contestants fight to the death no doubt the games where Christians were thrown to their death. The name Panem even comes from the Latin phrase panem and circenses (bread and circuses). The two main characters (Katniss and Peeta) even spend some time half-dead in a cave! In fact, come to think of it, Katniss and Peeta - Catholic and St. Peter?? I think I'm pushing it too far now.

I think I'll definitely have to read the next two.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Recently Read: Power Trip by Damian McBride

I've just finished 'Power Trip' by Gordon Brown's former special adviser Damian McBride. It was a fascinating read. Concise, well-written and very engaging. I would highly recommend it for anyone interested in the Blair/Brown period of British politics.

The book more or less confirmed my general view of the Blair/Brown rivalry. Gordon Brown and his entourage come across as good and conscientious, albeit flawed, individuals. Whereas Blair and the Blairites come across as self-interested, self-serving careerists. Ed Balls comes across in a particularly good light, and Ed Miliband comes across quite well too - although I was left with a much more mixed opinion of him. I'm convinced that the bounce in popularity that Labour have recently received in the press is more due to this book than to the Labour Party conference itself, which to my mind was as dull and cringeworthy as ever. I think that political journalists across the board have read this book, seen the two Eds in a much more capable and competent light and that this has coloured their write-up of the Labour conference accordingly.

The book also clearly illustrates that the Blair/Brown divide in the Labour Party was more due to policy differences than personal differences. At times we've been led to believe that it was Brown's personal ambition that drove him to thwart Blair's plans, but clearly he was more driven by a genuine fear that Blair was taking the country down the wrong path (which in my opinion he was).

For anyone of a conspiratorial mindset it was interesting to note how close Brown was to Robin Cook before the latter's untimely death. This following passage about Brown finding out about Cook's death stood out;
"Gordon was so upset he could barely speak. He and Robin had only recently resolved their long-standing feud and become firm friends again, talking almost every day. It was central for Gordon's plans for his premiership that Robin would become his Deputy Leader or Chancellor, or be restored as Foreign Secretary, symbolising a break from the Blair years more than any other appointment could, following Robin's resignation over the Iraq War."
It's hard to underestimate how much of a U-turn that would have represented in regards British foreign policy. Now I'm not gonna sit here and state that therefore he was killed by some security service, but I'd be lying if I said the suspicion had never crossed my mind. Especially given all the intrigue surrounding the death of weapons expert David Kelly.

Anyhow, whatever did or didn't go on during those turbulent years, I find it hard not to feel that Brown was essentially a force for good and that Blair was ...well, er, not a force for good.

Books, especially books written by people in politics, should always be viewed with a degree of scepticism, however I feel that this one may be one of the more honest political ones we'll read in recent times. Recommended.