Sunday, December 11, 2005

Narnia: the "Right" Interpretation.

Unless you live in a cave, you have probably heard of Disney’ latest movie, The Chronicles of Narnia which came out last Friday in the US. It is based on a series of very famous books for children by Christian thinker C.S. Lewis.

What is fascinating is to see the vicious debate going on between conservative and liberal “theologians” who have tried to use C.S. Lewis’s work to promote their agenda. I have personally not read the Chronicles but I have read most of Lewis’s essays. What is certain is that the Anglo-Irish Oxford professor had a mind of his own and he was somewhat a maverick within Christianity, someone you cannot label. His writings range from medieval literature to Christian apologetics, science fiction, and fantasy. But the debate over Lewis’ legacy is futile for The Chronicles are not essays, they are children’s books and as this article rightly points out, children do not care about the Christian elements in the stories:

Millions of kids have read The Chronicles of Narnia for 50 years without detecting their religious underpinnings largely because the moral lessons of the Narnia books are extricable from their spiritual ones.

The current debate simply reflects the concerns of many adults who try to capitalize on a successful story. But however one may disagree with some of Lewis’ ideas, he was intellectually sophisticated and subtle enough to write books that allowed children’s imagination to grow. That’s why The Chronicles of Narnia with its magic has become such a classic in children’s literature.

Maybe we should remind our conservative friends that not everything is there to promote their values: children are just kids just like penguins are just birds!

Note: Here’s one quote by C.S. Lewis which – no doubt would not please many Conservative Christians:
"If you are a Christian, you do not have to believe that all other religions are simply wrong all through.../... you are free to think that other religions contain some hint of the truths." (Mere Christianity)


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