Thursday, December 15, 2005

On Narnia

So Holly and I got to catch the new Narnia film a few days ago. It was entertaining and a much more compelling children's fantasy film than Harry Potter, but as Rick points out, it was no Lord of the Rings. And you couldn't help but compare the two because Narnia too was shot in New Zealand, the music sounded similar, and the war scenes were reminiscent.

But that's not really my point in this post.

Now certainly this is simply an allegory, not a person-for-person or event-for-event translation of Biblical texts, but you must know that the story is so full of Christian allusion from Aslan dying and raising again to him saying, "It is finished" to...well, you get the point.

It's been some time since I have read the Narnia series...perhaps 10 years even. I honestly did not remember the battle scenes as they were in the film, but my memory of them is not the point. My point is how evil was defeated and health and life restored to Narnia.

You see, in the Biblical narrative, Jesus (and Paul) commands his followers to overcome evil with good...or with love...and in the case of his life, Jesus himself overcomes evil by death. I think we stand at a fascinating time in history when many who claim his name think it's honorable to overcome evil by killing or violence or fear-making...overcoming evil with evil. And that's what this post is about.

As the battle scenes roared in the film, I saw the history (past and current) of the church...and I saw Aslan almost congratulate it in a way that I have yet to see Jesus do...and that made me sad and uncomfortable. These battle scenes waged on, endorsing violence and death to bring peace and life in Narnia...and it's simply not what is in the Gospels.

So perhaps this is a bit of an over-reaction, but perhaps it's not. We stand at a time when the American Empire is legitimized by a good deal of the Christian community, who is urging the government, "Use whatever it takes to bring about the peace...kill, slaughter, rape lands, destroy cultures, dominate until peace is accomplished and democracy implemented."

I think most people of Christian faith could stand to go back and meditate on the Sermon on the Mount and take a thoughtful look at what's going on in the world today.

I'll leave you with some of the Master's words...

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


gone said...

I was hopping blogs and stumbled here. I like what you are saying and it's always nice to find other Christians with passionate views about peace. Bonhoeffer said it best, "There is no way to peace along the way of safety. For peace must be dared: it is the great venture; it can never be safe. Peace is the opposite of security... To look for guarantees is to want to protect oneself. Peace means to give oneself altogether to the law of God, wanting no security, but in faith and obedience laying the destiny of the nations in the hand of Almighty God... Battles are won, not with weapons, but with God."


Brian Aaby said...

Ryan, a very interesting look at the movie, thanks for you thoughts and one that I didn't even think about while watching the film, interesting how easy it was to just accept this (war) as the way to bring about peace in Narnia.
Hope the journey (this leg) ends well.

Tim said...

I found myself reacting the same way as I watched the movie. It has been a little less time (maybe 5 years) since I read the book, but I found myself reacting very differently to the story this time than I ever had before. Perhaps it was the portrayal in movie form, but I think even more the difference is my perspective at this point in my life. I found myself questioning Lewis' portrayal of the good news in other ways too, but particularly the violence of the battles. When I mentioned this to some friends the other day they all looked at me like I was crazy, so I am glad to know there is someone else who felt that way too!

William E. said...

Seems like you're leaning heavy to the left these days. How do you read the book of Revelation?

And there was war in heaven. Michael and his angels fought against the dragon, and the dragon and his angels fought back.

Or perhaps 19:11
I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war.

Also, in the allegory, the witch and her army are representative of evil. It seems as though you're suggesting that Justice give way to evil. Or that they somehow find way to make harmony and share a room. That Holiness should allow Sin to have its way with it.

Would love a response.

Jon said...

I agree with almost everything you said, except for the part of it being more compelling than Potter. It sure proves that $150 million dollars doesn't make a fairy tale an epic.

Angela K said...

Hi, Ryan -

For me, what stood out was the battle as metaphor for spiritual warfare (as opposed to physical war), and the lack of "gore" in the battle scenes helped in this regard, I thought. Thinking of it this way, it has been very helpful to remind me that "the battle is not against flesh and blood." After I saw the movie the second time, my journal entry was "The trouble is, you see, I forget that Narnia is real."

Still, especially now with our involvement in Iraq, I appreciate your sensitivity to how the battle may be viewed by some folks. Stay passionate for peace, friend!

- Angela K.

Jeffrey said...

Ryan, I too found it to be completely alluding to the spiritual battles. Another thing I found was that at the end of the battle, Lucy began healing all the wounded. I may be wrong, but I thought she not only healed the good of Narnia, but the bad as well, though, again, I may be wrong.