December 12, 2005

by Andrew Silow-Carroll
The Lion King of Kings

Who's afraid of Narnia?

Not me. I saw it with the kids Saturday, and really enjoyed it. As for its Christian imagery, I'll repeat what I wrote in February:

Part of being a mature reader is appreciating works of art on multiple levels. Knowing Lewis’ intentions deepened my experience of reading the Narnia books. I took a graduate school pleasure in figuring out how his fantasy maps onto the New Testament. And I had a more emotional thrill: The spiritual core of the book made me realize how Christianity became, in Rabbi Irving Greenberg’s tongue-in-cheek phrase, “one of Judaism’s more popular by-products.” I wasn’t about to convert, but as a Jew I earned an appreciation for Christian belief that had escaped me in my comparative religion classes, let alone watching The Passion of the Christ.

This was lost on my children, I suspect, who thought the Narnia saga was a ripping good yarn with a number of beautiful relationships and occasionally disturbing comeuppances [-- until I pointed out its Christian underpinnings. For the kids, who attend a Jewish day school, it was a rare opportunity to discuss Christianity and how it differs from Judaism]....

One of the ironies of the culture wars is that those with the strongest convictions — especially the religious — probably have the least to fear, and the most to gain, from the cultural phenomena they decry. If they are confident in their beliefs, then they can treat uncomfortable portrayals of worldliness as cultural whetstones on which to sharpen those beliefs. The alternative is censoring the kinds of messages others can hear and raising their own kids in a world divorced from reality.

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