It's Narnia time again here at Matt O' Rama and I've just read a remarkable article on the religion of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe in The Guardian. I don't agree with it but it's mostly well-considered (One wrong thing is that Edmund is never meant to bear the true brunt of what he has wrought in the book, Aslan sees to that specifically). I never saw the religion in the books when I first read them many years ago. It wasn't until I read that Aslan was supposed to be Jesus that I saw it. It's not like Lewis has Aslan say "I was brought back to life by my father who art in heaven to wipe away your sin." He says he was brought back by "deep magic from before the dawn of time," which is perfectly normal in a fantasy context. I know Lewis wanted the books to be sort of an undercover introduction to Christianity, a way of preparing the field so to speak, but it certainly had no effect on my belief system and I'll happily read the books to my kids.

The author of this piece seems to have a general hate of Christianity, something I can't muster. I don't believe it, don't like it, but can't gather up the bile to bother. I read the stories of Narnia as fantasy books, and that's all. She does make a good point though, showing how a lot of religious groups are using the book to further their own ends, just as they do with other books. When the governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, wants to make sure all the kids in his schools read the books it's not okay. He doesn't want them to be read because they're good, he wants them to be ead because it's a way of pushing Christianity without running into that pesky "seperation of church and state" thing. That's hateful, not the portrayal of religion in Narnia.

The Chronicle also has a good defense of Lewis and the Narnia books. They've come under some attack for being numerous things; sexist, racist, violent but I tend to agree with this defense. Once I reread all the books I'll have more of an informed opinion on the assertions. I do keep in mind though that Lewis was brought up in a time when things we wouldn't say today were everyday ideas.

I'm glad that these books are being pushed to the forefront with the release of the movie. That's the best outcome for a book-to-movie conversion, in my mind. They two will always be separate experiences and separate stories but if the attention gets more kids to read the books, awesome. Plus if the extra talk means more money for the movie, they might eventually decide to make the movie of Voyage of the Dawn Treader and we'll all be in for a treat!

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