Saturday, December 24, 2005

Narnia: A Different Slant

Today, as part of our Christmas celebration, my grown kids went with us to see the first of the Narnia movies, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, co-produced by C. Douglas Gresham, stepson of C.S. Lewis. We loved it! According to Gresham, "Jack didn't intend the Narnia books to be an evangelistic fantasy. The myths of Narnia are partly those of the great man-made religions - Norse mythology, Hindu mythology, as well as the true myth of Christ. Exposure to man's myths will make young viewers ask questions about themselves - and only later will the seed of faith take root."

Paradoxically, Gresham has not joined the Christian bandwagon gearing up around the film. Won't it at least impart a subliminal Christian message to young audiences, I ask?

"I sincerely hope not," he snorts. "Because - and this is what people always get wrong - it's not a Christian film and the Narnia books aren't Christian novels."

Hmm. Most interesting. One would guess he would know. But what a different viewpoint from that of so many of us who grew up with the Chronicles! Does it matter? What do you think?

[Btw, I was in my first year of college, November 22, 1963, when C.S. Lewis died and when JFK was gunned down in Dallas. I will never forget that day! So many of us remember exactly where we were and what we were doing when we got the news about JFK. Do you?]


  1. On Nov. 22 1963 I was just 3 days short of being 6 months old. :-)

    When I read the Narnia books as a child, it never occurred to me that there was any sort of religious 'message' in there, Christian or not. But organized religion didn't (and still doesn't) play a role in my upbringing and it was a long, long time ago so I'm planning to read the books again and see what I get out of them this time.

    A very Merrry Christmas to you and yours, Ginnie!

  2. C.S.Lewis and stepson Gresham would love what you've written, Christina! Lewis' life is so interesting, especially growing up around JRR Tolkien, Chesterton and MacDonald. What a group to be part of! Wiki says the Narnia books "borrow from Greek, Roman, and Celtic mythology as well as traditional English and Irish fairy tales." Nothing about Christianity! I quite like the idea that these so-called "Christian themes" are elsewhere in our world's other mythologies.

    I was part of organized religion for 55 years, but not the last 5 years. Hmm. Maybe I'll go back and re-read the books myself! Wonder if I'll see them differently!

  3. First of all I think getting a different perspective on something can be a bit shocking and I think maybe that's what you're saying here. About whether it makes a difference in the big scheme of things, I am not sure.

    For me, reading Narnia as an adolescent, it was nothing more than a fabulous story of a fabulous world. Where kids were brave and animals talked. Oh I so liked the talking part! Aslan was a marvelous leader (who happened to be a lion).

    Just yesterday I finished re-reading all seven books. I haven't seen the movie. Today, the allegory of Aslan as Christ is quite clear. But the religious connotation is a quiet one, it sits behind the main messages which are the importance of unconditional love, sacrifice, hope instead of fear, and innocence protected from corruption. And profound optimism! What could be more optimistic than believing that the "inner" parts of all things are good and true, and that they're there somewhere under the often crude workings of reality.

    On a less important note, I did a little reading about the movie and learned that American film-makers were reticent to produce this movie for many years because they felt that American children could never relate to a story about British kids. Somebody even attempted to change the venue to Los Angeles. But this hesitation flew away with the advent of dear Harry Potter.

    And finally, I was in Grade 7 and sitting in a classroom when over the loudspeaker came the news of the death of John F. Kennedy. I remember that moment as clear as if it were yesterday.

  4. Your comment, PG, is better than my post! How very well-spoken and exactly to the point. I love it!

    7th grade, and in Canada, I assume! It really was a world event, wasn't it!

    Happy Holidays to you, dear Blogger Friend.

  5. When I was a kid, I read it because I thought it was a neat adventure story into another world. I never really dwelt on its Christian message though I may have been faintly aware that the symbolism was there.

  6. I've been interested to hear the different comments on this, Tim, especially from my siblings who read these books as adults and through the grid of a preacher's home. I don't think it ever occurred to us there was anything else BUT a Christian interpretation/allegory. So this whole conversation has been refreshing to me!