Sunday, December 11, 2005

What is it with Narnia?

The j. has devoted its cover story to the amazing news that The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is a Christian allegory, and is being marketed as such to church groups. They feel that Jews Should Be Informed.

I'm seeing various other Jewish sites and sources getting interested in this. I do not get it, people.

Yes, the Narnia books are a Christian allegory. It is possible to read the whole series, love it madly, and not know that--a friend of mine, pagan, was suddenly hit with the awareness of who Aslan is meant to be in the middle of a pleasant evening when we were in college, and was quite stunned. She's recovered, but she'd loved the books for at least ten years or so without noticing. Still, Lewis was a Christian writer, and his faith runs through everything he wrote--science fiction, fantasy, theology, all of it. He was also quite a nice person, by all accounts.

So what? It's not possible to read Western literature without getting a hefty dose of Christian imagery. Lewis writes with specific intent, that's all. And honestly--I adore Harry Potter, say, do not get me wrong here, but the goblins in Gringotts are actually written and drawn as anti-Semitic caricatures straight outta the Ring Cycle, and every term brings another huge Christmas extravaganza, celebrated by absolutely everyone at Hogwarts, without the slightest hint that not everyone at the school is a nonpracticing Anglican. The message there is clear--we can be multicultural as long as everyone's the same. Compared to that serenely assimilationist message, an actual Christian allegory--complete with talking badgers--seems positively easy--it's a great story, rooted in a faith I don't share. NO PROBLEM!

The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is not The Passion of the Christ. Here's one way you can tell: no one is going to walk out of theaters thinking the Jews killed Aslan. Here's another way you can tell: Mel Gibson is an anti-Semite. C.S. Lewis was an anti-fascist.

Now, if you want controversy, wait until they do the other books, and have to decide how to show the Calormenes. That will be interesting.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"we can be multicultural as long as everyone's the same."

I love it!