Thursday, December 15, 2005

narnia negativity

Polly Toynbee at British newspaper The Guardian has written a most interesting critique of the new "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" movie.

The movie, which appeared in theaters last Friday, is based on the popular children's book of the same title by C.S. Lewis. The book is especially popular among Christians, who love its allegorical elements, with Aslan representing Christ; the White Witch, Satan; and her castle with stone statues, the grave with all those who died in the time before Christ came and broke the power of death.

I won't be seeing the movie until tomorrow, but still, I got a kick out of reading Toynbee's piece, because it's so laden with irony. The writer, who obviously has a serious grudge not just with Narnia with Christianity, nonetheless deserves high points for spiritual perception. She seems to understand the gospel very well:

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus's holy head every day that you don't eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion's breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

It's not the first time I've heard such complaints, but I don't get them where the faith is concerned. Jesus is revealed in the book of Revelation as the Lion of Judah, and (paradoxically) as a Lamb. The lion's glory and power is manifest in the Lamb's weakness and humility, but he's still a Lion -- and while he's not militaristic or fascist, I don't think Lewis' Narnia, for all its failings, depicts him as such.

I'm curious to see how well the movie treats the subject matter. I've heard a few people express concerns that it might be too violent, upsetting or scary for the girls in a few parts. I guess we'll find out this weekend.

(Personally, I thought Toynbee's article would have been well served with a headline like "The Chronicles of Narnia: Why I hate God, Christians, Jesus, America, and you.")

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