A Christian Narnia

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe The cast and crew of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have started downplaying the significance of the Christian symbology in the movie. I suppose the fact that C. S. Lewis was a Christian theologan and wrote the Chronicles of Narnia is of little use to them, nor the fact that there are many Christian lesson plans for teachers about the book’s symbology.

Cast and crew members of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe have played down the significance of Christian symbolism in their version of CS Lewis’s novel.
The Narnia books are often viewed as a religious allegory, with Aslan the lion representing Jesus Christ.

But director Andrew Adamson said it is “open to the audience to interpret”.

“Faith is in the eye of the beholder,” added British actress Tilda Swinton, who said the original book was more “spiritual” than religious.

“You can make a religious allegory out of anything if that’s what you’re interested in,” she told the BBC News website.

Swinton, who plays the White Witch Jadis in the film, was speaking at a press event held at Cliveden House, Berkshire on Wednesday.

In the film, the first in a planned series based on Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles, Aslan sacrifices himself in order to save the life of a human boy, or “Son of Adam”.

He later rises from the dead to lead his troops in an epic battle against the White Witch’s forces.

But New Zealand-born Adamson – director of the Shrek films – said resurrection was a common theme in the fantasy genre, citing The Matrix and Star Wars as examples.

Except for that whole “son of God sacrifices himself to save a human and then rises from the dead to battle evil” thing, I might agree with them. Christian symbolism? Nah. Unless you really look for it. 🙂

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28 thoughts on “A Christian Narnia

  1. Narnian Christmas celebrates the coming of Santa.
    Narnians go to war with each other because they listen to other people about religion instead of getting the word directly from Aslan (and please note that the Bible comes from people, not directly from God himself; the bad guys in Narnia also claim to have divine inspiration).

    Obi-Wan Kenobi sacrifices himself to save Luke, Han, Leia, and Chewbacca. He then comes back from the dead to save the galaxy (through his guidance and training of Luke). That means the rebellion symbolizes Christianity.

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  2. “please note that the Bible comes from people, not directly from God himself”

    I disagree, and the Bible itself disagrees with that.

    2 Timothy 3:16
    All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

    2 Peter 1:20-21
    Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

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  3. Yeah, his whole argument falls apart without that caveat. Jehovah’s witness perhaps?

    I like the Obi Wan thing…may the force be with us.

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  4. Why not listen to C.S. Lewis:

    o Less than one month before he died in 1963, C.S. Lewis wrote the following letter to a young girl who wanted to know if any other Narnia books were going to be produced. It turned out to be a fond and fitting farewell to all of his devoted readers.
    o Dear Ruth,
    Many thanks for your kind letter, and it was very good of you to write and tell me that you like my books; and what a very good letter you write for your age!

    If you continue to love Jesus, nothing much can go wrong with you, and I hope that you may always do so. I’m so thankful that you realized the “hidden story” in the Narnia books. It is odd, children nearly always do, grown-ups … hardly ever. I’m afraid the Narnia series has come to an end, and am sorry to tell you that you can expect no more.

    God bless you.

    Your sincerely,
    C.S. Lewis

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  5. Wow, thank you for that letter, Tad.

    I checked out your church’s website and your flock is so blessed to get a sermon series on The Lion, Witch, and Wardrobe. Unfortunately, the commute to Arkansas would wear me out. I don’t suppose you make mp3’s available afterwards, do you?

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  6. “Yeah, his whole argument falls apart without that caveat. Jehovah’s witness perhaps?”

    Um, I would say not. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe the bible is from god. They just disagree with some translations and/or interpetations.

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  7. Er, not the same. Harry Potter has the protagonist using witchcraft. Narnia has the white witch, the evil one, using witchcraft. The pope wouldn’t object to portraying witchcraft as evil.

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  8. Funny, the protagonists from “The Lord of the Rings” seem to have escaped that fate. I guess a story about good overcoming evil just isn’t enough anymore. How sad.

    Perhaps the Bible isn’t too comfortable with so much competition for young minds (and, evidently, young imaginations).

    P.S. The late Pope John Paul II had nothing but praise for the Harry Potter books. I think he saw the senselessness in vilifying what is really just…childhood fantasy.

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  9. Trying to determine how comfortable a book is would be difficult. Is it more comfortable in your lap or on a shelf? Hard to tell.

    And according to the Catholic World News, the English press falsely claimed that Pope John Paul II approved of Harry Potter.

    And since J.R.R. Tolkein was a contemporary of C.S Lewis, Lord of the Rings has many of the same Christian underpinnings found in the Narnia series. Just more subtle.

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  10. …nevertheless, Tolkien’s characters used sorcery and magic too, regardless of any “Christian underpinnings”, yet the Vatican has made no public condemnations.

    So again, I say: there is a double standard. Evidently, works of literature that don’t display *enough* support for Christian ideals are targeted, while others are not, and the justification for this rarely stems from a consistent policy.

    Nothing new here, I’m sad to say; having their cake and eating it too has become par for the course not just for religion, but for politics and big business too.

    Hope springs eternal.

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  11. Nearly half of the world’s religions is of the christian faith. Even pagans understand the principals of christian belifs. Life itself, regaraded independantly of christ (esepecailly if you are a athiest), is rife with sacrifice and penitence, good defeating bad. This is what life is all about so anybody will be able to identify these qualities in anyhting that we experience. You could take an episode of Ground Force and find religious symbolism.
    I think it’s just a tad hyprocritical of any ministry to comdem killing, evil and pescution when history abounds in religious wars in which millions have been mercilessly slaughtered for their beliefs, conveniently disregarding the six comandamnt that is to be inteprted as “you shall not murder”
    Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

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  12. Noyoushutup: No, I still don’t agree. Lord of the Rings used fantasy characters and few people if any would confuse it with reality. Harry Potter showed a human boy solving his problems with witchcraft and much of it was set in a real world setting. Even so, the Vatican didn’t condemn Harry Potter, just warned that the Harry Potter series contained “subtle seductions” that one ought to be cautious about.

    While I have differences with the Catholics on dogma, you sound like you’re being critical of them for having an opinion. What could the Vatican do that would please you?

    By the way, your username is munged up if you’re trying to list your website. Clicking on your name takes you to “http://noyoushutup.orggmail.com/”

    Colin: I agree with your first part (and I’ll have a new post up today on that subject), but not the latter. Just because something happened in history doesn’t mean it was good, and therefore history is no reason to abstain from condemning evil today.

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  13. My point was that the church condmens evil but it is the church that has commited more evil acts – murder and slaughter – in the name of good.Right and wrong shifts in balance according to the requirments of religion.
    sorcery is sorcery and it is the purpose to which it is put that makes it good or bad. So what if Potter is using magic. If he is using it for good then this must be condoned by anyone or any intituation that advocates the protection of the innocent. A gun today was yesterday’s magic. Are guns then a kind of sorcery. Do they fall under the vilification of the Vatican.
    A gun in the hands of a madman shooting kids. Yes a gun is wrong.
    A gun In the hands of a copper shooting this madman. no a gun is not wrong.
    no-one can say definitivly that witchcraft is wrong. We live in shades of grey.

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  14. Well, I can certainly see where you’re coming from, a position of moral relativism. First you name evil acts – murder and slaughter – then go on to say we live in shades of grey. Any shade of grey has too much black in it for me. Is half evil good enough? I think not.

    See, I believe the world was created by God who sent His only Son as a perfect sacrifice. If the only way to the Father is receiving the gift of grace, then witchcraft is wrong. It derails that person that would be seeking salvation and corrupts him.

    Right and wrong does not “shift in balance according to the requirements of religion,” at least not in my faith. While some evil or confused people have quoted their religion while doing their evil deeds, Christians roundly denounce evil in all its forms every time. And the few examples you might come up with pale next to those attrocities committed when there was an absence of religion.

    The gun analogy falls flat. You could substitute a screwdriver and get the same results. A tool is just a tool. Witchcraft is not a tool, it is moral alternative and an impediment to salvation.

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  15. Only if the screwdriver was being used as a weapon to destroy by one and a means of protection by another. The gun analogy was to impart that what may seem to be evil or detrimenatal may be their opposites. How can this “moral alternative” be an impendiment to anything if it helps and aids others in the allevation of suffering … and it can do this.
    So, it is wrong to kill as the good book says. The old Testment especially is rife with examples of God murdering others through his word and through the actions of his prophets. Suppose this is a case of “do as i say and not as i do.” without the black there would be only white (no shades of grey) with only the existence of good there will by no contrast for us to understand that good is good and innocecne and rightiousness would mean nothing without its antithisis. Water to wine. A staff to a snake. The parting of the red sea. the resurrection of Lazirus. He uses magic but we can’t????

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  16. I can’t come up with an example of something evil to one person may be good to another, Colin. Perhaps you can help. The gun and the screwdriver analogies don’t work since we would both agree the evil is the murderous intent, even if your hypothetical madman was disarmed.

    God’s miracles are not the same as witchcraft. Each of those miracles were specific and used for showing the power of God. The ressurection of Lazarus showed the power Jesus had over death. Does witchcraft also show the power of God, or is it a lure to convince people to look out for themselves selfishly and try to run from the power of God?

    And if you acknowledge miracles like the parting of the Red Sea, why would you not also acknowledge the power behind it?

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  17. To suppose that LWW is not overtly and covertly Christian, as claimed by some, is disingenuous. Lewis, who had claimed in middle age that his need for God “flowed from him night and day”, may not have set out to create a Christ for Kids, but that, is precisely what happened. When one looks at the character of Aslan the Lion (of Judah?) who is murdered to appease some ancient and deep magic (old testament?) in exchange for a traitor (a Son of Adam- humanity?) who is then resurrected to finally defeat evil (second coming?) it is obvious that this is exactly what the movie is. That Aslan, like the followers of Paul claim that their hero was “there at the formation of the world” make both Jesus and Aslan ageless and eternal (except that Aslan states he was there when the deep magic was written–again an allusion to the OT?) the story of Aslan and Jesus (or Mithra or Vishnu or any other countless sons of gods) is clear and apparent. Still, it was a real treat to watch as I am a special effects junkie (say King Kong).

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  18. As I said elsewhere, if you went looking for Christian symbolism, it was endemic in the movie. If you weren’t familiar with Christian symbolism, the movie was just enjoyable on its own merits without a word of scripture uttered.

    Sort of like saying that the Lord of the Rings was full of symbolism about the Iraq war (Frodo would then be George Bush seeking to destroy Weapons of Mass Destruction). You could certainly still enjoy the movie whether you supported the President or were against the war, symbolism or no.

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  19. Frankly, I was a bit disappointed in the movie. An acquaintance of mine converted from a confirmed atheist to a Born Again Christian after reading the book to his daughter, so I was sort of expecting something a bit more profound. Being somewhat familiar with the Bible, I was looking for all of the parallels in the movie, and really, I ended up at a loss as to why this associate had been an atheist in the first place. After all, if this story is what did it for him, he could have used any book or movie as a reason to convert. I just don’t find the same type of profound revalation or deep satisfaction that some people seem to when stories use symbolism crafted to appeal to the masses. “Christians” getting all excited about Narnia’s symbolism is a bit like Trekkies getting all worked up over Galaxy Quest. Rather than looking for all the various meanings in the LW&W, a book written by a religious man recently, mght as well read the books that were a bit less subtle, also written by men a long time ago. People look for reinforcement of their beliefs anywhere they can.

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  20. If you watch the movie for the sake of wathcing a movie then it’s execellent. if you watch and attempt to assign religious significance to every scene then you will be dissapointed becasue ….. IT’S JUST A MOVIE.
    If people want to learn about Christianity then thye should go and watch The Ten Comandmants or The Passion of The Christ.
    Rather than pick up one of C.S Lewis’s books and search it for religious symbolims why not pick up the bible and see it right there starring everyone in the face. The world has become far to complicated. Why can’t something just be “someting” wihtout having to read between the lines or determine the underlying paralellism and parables. Everyone should lighten up.

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  21. Aaron – nice analogy with the Trekkies. I suppose some of them find that a religious experience, too. 😛

    While your atheist friend may have rededicated his life after reading the book, it’s not surprising if he still had any faith available in him at all. I don’t think the movie is convicting enough to be used as an evangelism tool, though. It’s just fun with symbolism. 🙂

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