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Monday, December 13, 2010

I went to the dentist and discussed post modernism and C.S. Lewis

I have an interesting dentist but she gets me talking too much.
I've been in a discussion at the IMDB film discussion boards about Narnia and I'm surprised at how shallow popular thought can be. (See yesterdays commentary on the movie.
Most of the posts are as follows: It sucked! No it didn't you suck! Narnia Rocks! I am an atheist and I'm more clever than you... And so on.
No one ever says, "You are Eustace's Parents!" Which would be a good comeback.
There has been a good discussion about the film on a couple posts. No one will answer my posts because I just registered but I've made my feelings known.
The Chronicles of Narnia also illustrates the conflict between the old ways and the new. That is most evident in the discussion posts. Lewis appreciates hierarchy and order and respect. The world is based upon the world before, traditions and beliefs and solid ideas of right and wrong and good and evil.
Our modern post-modern world thinks in terms of relativity and we see that conflict in the, "The Last Battle," with the ape and the donkey. The ape uses this philosophy to talk the donkey into wearing the lion skin. We see it with the dwarves who cannot accept that they are eating a wonderful meal and consider it all to be hog food. The are judging their meal from their perspective, though their world experience and so it is real to them.
We cannot help but absorb this understanding of the world. The idea of multiple absolutes or no absolutes or what we believe to be real is real because of our understanding and perspective and it becomes a crutch to avoid the responsibility that comes from believing in the unchanging. The past can be reinterpreted to mean what we want it to and the present can be re-imagined so what was considered "wrong" is no "correct" and what was "right" is now abhorrent.
But I digress.
What kind of bugs me is the old discussion of if Aslan is Jesus and if he is, so what?
I don't think Aslan is Jesus. Although Aslan represents "God" in a way, but so does "the force" in Star Wars. Aslan is the creator and the force behind Narnia so he is god-like. But in the Last Battle we see different ways leading to "GOD." So perhaps it would be better to say Aslan represents the Truth that we call "God" in our world and there are many ways to the truth which Lewis shows to be the force of goodness, honor, respect, and virtue. Truth and Goodness is a universal force that transcends the Universe. Aslan represents that in Narnia and God represents that on Earth.
People read too much into a child's series.
It is mean to teach honor, virtue, respect for good authority figures, respect for the "Old Ways", a belief in mysticism, and an appreciation for a higher power.
I'm not a student of CS Lewis and I have not done any research on this, I'm just talking off the top of my head so if you disagree that is fine with me.
Anyway, in the end I got the idea that how you came to the "Truth" was your own business.
I think Lewis is writing on a little higher intellectual plain than your modern kind of  Christian and your modern smug atheist.
The modern church-going christian seems more concerned about either abortion and singing the same verse of a praise him over and over until they find rapture, or on the other side how evil the Jews are oppressing the Islamics. The first side would see Narnia as an adventure and Aslan as Jesus but is unable to process a deeper meaning, and the other side have more in common with Eustace-pre dragon.
The atheist side just hates anything Christian so they can't get anything out of the movie either.
It is all probably due to the fact that kids are somehow all taught the wrong things to begin with...

UPDATE: I am wrong. I asked google the question, "is Aslan Jesus," and I guess CS Lewis actually said that he imagined that Jesus would look like Aslan if he were in Narnia. Somehow this kind of lets me down a little. 

says Peter Glover's Wires From The Bunker: (don't know Peter but he showed up first on the search)

"But let us allow Lewis to speak for himself. In the letter, written in 1961, he writes:

"The whole Narnian story is about Christ. Supposing there really was a world like Narnia . . . and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours) what might have happened?” he wrote. “The stories are my answer. Since Narnia is a world of talking beasts, I thought he would become a talking beast there as he became a man here. I pictured him becoming a lion there because a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; b) Christ is called ‘the lion of Judah’ in the Bible.""

10 comments:

  1. times like this that remind us that we need to be humble, doesn't it? :)

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  2. Budde,I've heard of the comparisons between the Narnia stories and the bible. I've only seen one or two of the movies and was not inspired to watch any more. I'm a little out of the loop anyway as I have not even seen a single Harry Potter episode.

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  3. The Narnia books are just adventure stories for children that teach good character. There are references to the Bible which drive all the clever folks wild. Also the fact that CS Lewis is making fun of the clever folks, who of course don't get it, is the one thing I liked about them as I get older.
    Random magic and wands and end justifies the means kinds of plots are much more popular these days.

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  4. I think we get out of movies and literature what we bring into them and what we want to see. If my perspective is that a book is an analogy for Christ, then that is probably what I will find. "Lord of the Rings" and "A Wrinkle in Time" were Christ-analogies for me. I did not find "Huck Finn" rascist--rather quite the opposite--Jim's the hero of the tale. I am not offended by the concept of witchcraft in "Harry Potter" because I think all kids love the idea of personal power against bad adults, and magic that does their chores quickly. I could argue that Voldemort represents Satan. But, I am choosing how I interpret it. Now "Smokey, the Cowhorse" was just a plain, old good book, and I am content to leave it that way without searching for deeper meaning.

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  5. Frumpy, you read Smokey the Cowhorse? I am somewhat of a Will James fan as I suppose you gathered from my bookself at the bottom of the page. Will James was an amazing fellow. What Hemingway wanted to be... I really liked Lone Cowboy.

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  6. It was a childhood favorite. I will look for Lone Cowboy at the library. When Will James wrote, he made it sound like he was sitting at the campfire telling the story to you personally. I've read nearly everything Hemingway wrote because I thought it would be good for me. I was wrong.

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  7. I guess God must have been trying prevent something pretty bad from happening to us. If there was another way to save mankind, would he have let part of himself suffer and die in agony? That leads me to think there is just one way to salvation and that is through Jesus Christ. That is why we try so hard to pass this knowledge on.
    Being an atheist requires just as much faith as being a Christian, but it requires one to be much more of a conformist.

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  8. Well, The Chronicles of Narnia are not the Bible so what CS Lewis says is not the word of God.
    In the Last Battle, donkey who was used as the fake Aslan repents and is forgiven and a number of the Calormine soldiers also are in Aslan's country. I don't have the book right here but there is some sort of speech about if you do your best to do the right thing and essentially do things that serve God and don't know the truth you will be led to God.
    It is a major theological argument that I don't have the depth to discuss.

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  9. I agree most with one of your first statements: People don't think deep thoughts. As a history teacher I think about how in 1788 Americans were debating what became the Federalist Papers in the pubs and street corners. Now they argue about sports or tweet in 140 characters or less.

    I read through the Chronicles of Narnia twice, once for each child. I enjoyed them as children's stories but I also think Aslan is a Christ figure. Either way they are great stories. Isn't that one of the characteristics of great literature?

    C.S. Lewis also wrote some science fiction which I read 40 years ago and don't plan to re-read, but his serious works are on my re-read shelf. I am coming to the end of "Mere Christianity" again and if you have not read "Screwtape's Letter" then you have missed a treat.

    Enjoyed the post.

    Grace and Peace

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  10. Pumice, thanks for the comments.
    I'm not really that deep a thinker, I just start wondering why and it leads me to things that are interesting. It is surprising that so many people don't take the trouble to go to the next level of thought.
    I have tried to reread Prelandria and didn't make it. I don't read as much as I used to. I read the other two books sometime around my college days.
    We are reading voyage of the Dawn Treader in the morning before school It replaces cartoons.

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