Sunday, May 04, 2008

Lions and Religion

Chelsea asked an interesting question in the comments of my last post. I was just going to answer it there like I usually do, but figured I might as well turn this one into a full post of it's own.
She asked about The Chronicles of Narnia, stating that once she found out The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was all an allegory for the Christ story, it ruined it for her.
Well, I've got lots of thoughts on this. As a matter of fact, I actually used some of them back in December on an off-topic post on the crochet board I visit when some people there were up in arms about The Golden Compass.
I only ever read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a kid. I think I might have picked up Prince Caspian at one point, but it didn't hold the magic that the other did. (Sorry, I'm not typing that title yet again, it's long!) To me, reading the battered hard-bound copy that was my Mom's was magic. It was a wonderful story about four siblings and this amazing lion. I was never told it was allegory until I was in late high school or early college. I actually almost physically fought against this idea. I mean, it made me vaguely ill to hear it. I couldn't, wouldn't see it as possible.
You see, I grew up in a "mixed" household. Religion was never very strong. Sure, we celebrated Christmas and nodded to Easter. We also celebrated Hanukkah. I would go off and on to church with my mom when she found one she liked. I never learned a whole lot though. Most of the time I was just bored. I kept going in high school because I liked some of the other kids in the youth group and it gave me something to do. Most of the preaching really didn't affect me. I already knew to be a good, kind, caring person and that there is a right way and a wrong way to treat people.
Therefore, when reading The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I never even thought to apply the Christ story to it. It was a strange and amazing tale set in a wonderful place where the animals could talk. The kids were doing what was right, helping get rid of somebody big, mean and nasty that was making life miserable for all the "good" people. This was only what was right and just in the world. I strongly believe that people, not just children, will apply what they want to their world and in cases like this, unless they're told at the beginning it's the Christ story, the won't necessarily read it that way for themselves.
Recently I've "read", well... listened more like thanks to Audible, a few of the others. They're all good stories. Some are more "Christian" than others. (The thought of them being the Christ story or other Bible tales still makes me vaguely uncomfortable...) Personally, I think you should take away what you want from these stories. Yes, C.S. Lewis was a devout Christian and has written many Christian works. Yes, he probably intended these stories as a way to teach those ideals to children.
But aren't they good ideals that everyone should have? Shouldn't everyone try and right the wrongs, treat others in kindness and fairness and respect all life?
I guess I haven't really answered Chelsea's question yet, which was if the first movie was good.
I think it was a well done adaptation of the book. It followed it closely. The casting and acting was great and the effects, while stunning, were not over done. It is still a wonderful story of hope, courage, love and "doing the right thing" ... and family.
I hope Caspian lives up to the standard the first movie set. I've read the book and enjoyed it. It's still a good story about strong kids trying to do right.
Anyhow, I guess that's about all I've got to say on it. I've got to get the laundry together and write up the grocery list. I didn't do my chores yesterday, so I'd best get them done today.
Peace to all and may you all have stories you enjoy in your lives.


Chelsea said...


I found out about the allegory thing at a very impressionable/important/hard time in my life; I'd had a vaguely traumatic experience at church, followed very closely by finding out about paganism. I was in my first advanced English class (7th grade), and we were supposed to write book reviews on our choice of book. I'd picked TLTW&TW because of the magic, and then my teacher pointed out the allegory so I "could" use it in my review. *sigh* Maybe I'll be able to compartmentalize the movie better than I did the book.

Addey said...

I'm sorry it was a pushy teacher and bad religious experiences that killed it for you. See the movie, at worst it'll be a wasted evening and a couple of bucks. At best, you'll enjoy the escape for a bit.