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Affluent Christian Investor | October 23, 2017

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The Repression of Ender’s Game

Ender's Game

Orson Scott Card is a Mormon, as such he believes that marriage is properly an institution which requires both a man and a woman. He has supported this position publicly, though not vociferously. For this reason, there have been attempts to boycott the new film based on his novel Ender’s Game. This despite the fact that Card’s financial arrangement with the studio are such that he makes no money based on ticket sales and that even such reliably liberal outlets as the New York Times and Huffington Post have published editorials opposing the boycott. There were calls to prevent the film from being made and there have been attempts to ban Card from creative involvement with the Superman comic book franchise.

Basically to be a Mormon is to be ban bait and Hollywood and Broadway have had no end of fun at the expense of Mormons. But what I find interesting about all of this is the degree to which suppressionists have already won the day, at least for the moment. And I’m not talking about the boycott attempts, I’m talking about the film itself.

Ender’s Game is about an earth of the not too distant future which is ruled over by a global government which controls population and suppresses religion. Ender is a “Third”, that is a third child, and third children are as a general rule illegal. Waivers can be granted for the conception of a third based on the interest of the state, however. And Ender’s parents were granted such a waiver because the family is of very high intelligence and high intelligence children were needed for the war effort. Ender’s two older siblings, Peter and Valentine, were both found to be of extremely high intelligence but each was temperamentally unfit for fleet command, in opposite ways. Valentine was too docile; Peter, too aggressive. Ender, it turns out, is just right.

Ender’s parents are religious, the mother is a Mormon, the father a Polish Roman Catholic named John Paul. Ender was secretly baptized as a child, as religions are suppressed in Ender’s world. In Battle School, Ender Meets Alai, an Arab boy, who whispers to Ender, “Salaam“, “Peace,” which Ender takes to be a reference to a suppressed religion. Ender’s very name is a religious reference (actually, I think it’s two religious references): he is named after St. Andrew, one of Jesus’ earliest disciples. Peter and Valentine are both consciously named after Christian saints.

Religious themes abound in the novel. (spoilers ahead) At a climactic scene in the psychological monitoring and control computer program, on Ender’s ‘desk’ Ender crushes the head of a serpent under his heel (which astute Sunday school students will recognize as the proto-evangelium from Genesis 3.) In other words, Ender is a Christ symbol. And if that is not clear to the reader in the serpent-killing scene, it is made clear after the climax of the novel, when Ender is in some sense sacrificed to save the world and he falls into a kind of psychological death state during which his female disciple named Petra (“rock”) holds vigil while Ender’s body is gently washed and laid to rest. I think that Ender’s name is a further indication of his symbolic role: Ender is a corruption of Andrew, the Saint, and appeared as many family nickname’s do, as a mispronunciation by a young sibling. But it hints at Andros, “man” as in ‘son of’.

Then after all of this Ender goes deep into the earth, into a cave and rescues ‘the queen’ from the dead, taking her out of the ground to save her and her race, a classic descendit ad infernum, and harrowing of hell scenario. Now, you may think I’m reading too much into this. There’s always someone in the comment section with some gem of highly polished ignorance: “It’s just a movie.” Except it’s not just a movie, it’s a novel, and a novel in which Card explicitly says that he has planted lots of literary devices and symbols for the kind of people (like me) who like that sort of thing.

Plus, almost none of that material is in the movie. That’s right, that religious stuff is censored out of the film. Nothing about the kids being named after Saints, nothing about the parent’s religion. And don’t tell me there was not time for it. In the film, the father is named John. The mother tells him, “John, talk to the boy”. Don’t tell me that the movie was just too fast paced to add an one extra syllable “Paul” which would have been a dead giveaway as to the father’s Catholic identity. There are one or two short references to the population suppression of Ender’s world, but not a single reference to its religious suppression. That’s right, the theme of religious repression in the novel is itself repressed in the film.

I can join much of the conservative world in decrying the intolerance of the left which tries to ban a movie like Ender’s Game, or I could be joined in exaltation about the failure of the effort to stop the film from being made. But from my standpoint, the saddest part of the whole sorry episode is that Card’s novel was great partly because it understood the ways in which tyrannies must war against God, and the way in which God, working through the individual human spirit can resist. It was, after all, John Paul who helped defeat the Soviets, and not any other pope after which Ender’s father was named.

But modern Hollywood does not see Christianity as a bulwark against tyranny, it’s a story that they just don’t have ears to hear, so they just can’t seem to have mouths to tell it, even when it’s the center of the story. What a pity; it reminds me of the bowdlerization of Bradbury’s Farhenheit 451, but that will have to wait for a future column.


Article originally published on

Jerry Bowyer is a Forbes contributor, contributing editor of, and Senior Fellow in Business Economics at The Center for Cultural Leadership.

Jerry has compiled an impressive record as a leading thinker in finance and economics. He worked as an auditor and a tax consultant with Arthur Anderson, as Vice President of the Beechwood Company which is the family office associated with Federated Investors, and has consulted in various privatization efforts for Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. He founded the influential economic think tank, the Allegheny Institute, and has lectured extensively at universities, businesses and civic groups.

Jerry has been a member of three investment committees, among which is Benchmark Financial, Pittsburgh’s largest financial services firm. Jerry had been a regular commentator on Fox Business News and Fox News. He was formerly a CNBC Contributor, has guest-hosted “The Kudlow Report”, and has written for, National Review Online, and The Wall Street Journal, as well as many other publications. He is the author of The Bush Boom and more recently The Free Market Capitalist’s Survival Guide, published by HarperCollins. Jerry is the President of Bowyer Research.

Jerry consulted extensively with the Bush White House on matters pertaining to the recent economic crisis. He has been quoted in the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Forbes Magazine, The International Herald Tribune and various local newspapers. He has been a contributing editor of National Review Online, The New York Sun and Townhall Magazine. Jerry has hosted daily radio and TV programs and was one of the founding members of WQED’s On-Q Friday Roundtable. He has guest-hosted the Bill Bennett radio program as well as radio programs in Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

Jerry is the former host of WorldView, a nationally syndicated Sunday-morning political talk show created on the model of Meet The Press. On WorldView, Jerry interviewed distinguished guests including the Vice President, Treasury Secretary, HUD Secretary, former Secretary of Sate Condoleezza Rice, former Presidential Advisor Carl Rove, former Attorney General Edwin Meese and publisher Steve Forbes.

Jerry has taught social ethics at Ottawa Theological Hall, public policy at Saint Vincent’s College, and guest lectured at Carnegie Mellon’s graduate Heinz School of Public Policy. In 1997 Jerry gave the commencement address at his alma mater, Robert Morris University. He was the youngest speaker in the history of the school, and the school received more requests for transcripts of Jerry’s speech than at any other time in its 120-year history.

Jerry lives in Pennsylvania with his wife, Susan, and the youngest five of their seven children.


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