2005-12-11 01:26 am (UTC)
Thanks for that. I have been hearing all this christian theology angst about the movie, and for someone who hasn't read the books, thinks the movie is interesting, and wants to see it, it's refreshing to hear your point of view. I mean you can find christian allegory in many of the big movies many people love from Star Wars to ET to LOTR, and that didn't stop people from seeing them gay or straight. Besides I think the fact that people may make more of the allegories than is intended does not make a the movie a fundamentalist one like many have made it to be. *IT'S JUST A MOVIE* lol
I'm not willing to pay money to reread these books, so I'm stuck with the friends I have who are rereading them...
I think I was something like 5 when my father read them to me (and I probably read them myself at some point in the subsequent year); certainly I had no idea Aslan was a Christ symbol until many, many years later.
It's funny to me that one of the very few traditional "father"-ish things I can remember my dad doing is reading a Christian semi-allegory to me. Considering that he's a secular Jew, it's odd to have as one of those few "dad reading to me" memories.
Doesn't Canada have public libraries?
I'm leaving for six months of living in another country in 3 weeks, and my expectation is that I might get to the top of the Narnia waiting list roughly when I return to Canada.
I'm giggling at the thought of Sethra Lavode as a Christ figure.
Speaking of Christian allegory: have you seen the Superman trailer yet?
Nope! But I've heard lots of awful things about the genesis of the script, so I've got an eyebrow half-askance already.
Well, I followed a link a while ago (I have no idea where it is now) that had a VERY long and sordid tale about how actor after actor and director after director have started to get involved and then bailed, because the producer (or whoever the guy in charge is) is, like, insane, and the script has been re-written forty times and all the details that have leaked out from it have sounded really, um, crappy.
If you've ever seen Kevin Smith's lecture series on DVD, he tells this story about getting called in to fix up a Superman script, and the guy who was in charge of the project (1) didn't understand who this "Kal-el" guy was supposed to be, (2) wanted Lex Luthor to fight Superman's guards at his Fortress of Solitude (um, what part of the word "solitude" do you not get?), and if there are no guards, cyborg polar bears, and (3) wanted the climactic battle to be between Superman and a giant spider, because "spiders are like Nature's sharks".
Or something like that. Anyway, from what I gather, the coming movie has mutated quite a bit from that stage, but is still basically the product of studio execs who have literally never read a comic book and have no idea what it's all about, but are against the whole 'heroic dude in tights who flies around' aspect of the story. So it sounds like a total trainwreck in the making.
It could be a decent movie anyway -- but I'm not going to bother anticipating it until I hear some word-of-mouth reviews...
"spiders are like Nature's sharks." That is the freshest wine I have EVER tasted. I am going to say that all the time now.
Wow. Sounds like this script really jumped the spider.
I've always been surprised about the elements in these books that are deliciously pagan. As I've probably commented hundreds of times, they were the only fantasy I was allowed as a child because of Lewis' reputation as a Xtian.
Have you ever read L.M. Boston's Children at Green Knowe series. I think you would like them. But first, Diana Wynne Jones? Have you? She's a must.
I haven't ready the Green Knowe books, but I've read plenty of DWJ. I especially like A Tale of Time City. Though if you have particular titles to recommend, there are many of her books that I haven't read yet.
I think it's the first book that's most overwhelmingly allegorical, and I would venture to say that that's why it seems like it's on autopilot to you. The later books are more sophisticated in a lot of ways. Wait--I retract that, The Last Battle seems pretty doctrinal to me.
I do want to say, though, that "I didn't recognize it" doesn't necessarily make the Christian thematics less important. The way for one ideology to win over another is to prevent people from recognizing it as ideology, to make them think it's just common sense. For instance, to present a Christian allegory as a rip-roaring adventure story featuring some bad behavior, which is punished, and some good behavior, which is rewarded. The example you give about shedding the snake skin may not register as Christian, but if a young reader learns that there are some things you can't do for yourself but must let a more powerful being do for you--well, Christianity is going to make a lot of sense, isn't it? That is a massive ideological success.
Whether you mind? That depends on whether you're trying to raise your kid Christian, or in a religion that doesn't rely on external salvation, or outside of religion. But it matters, either way.
I have to disagree about the first book. The only allegory I noticed in it was Aslan-as-Christ-figure; Dawn Treader had one on roughly every other island. I think the autopilot factor is simply because in the first book, nobody makes any choices. They just do the obvious thing based on their circumstances...
You make a good point about recognizability != effectiveness. But I guess my feeling is that sneaking it in through the side door, as these books do, in most cases reduces the points from specifically doctrinal to generally ethical, if that makes any sense. I mean, most of the points that get made are sort of along the lines of "greed is bad" and "pride can make you stupid", which are common to most ethical/belief systems. And for the remainder, the common sense aspect is tempered by the "yes, if you're in a magical land with talking lions" aspect, which is not negligible.
It definitely has some teaching value, if you want it, but my conclusion is that it's not (as some, both pro and con, have intimated) some kind of super-effective brainwashing technique that will make all the little kiddies long for sunday school. It's no more effective than L. Ron Hubbard books are at recruiting Scientologists, except that the Narnia books aren't utter dreck...
the thing is that you'd never notice them if you weren't already familiar with Christian lore
I forget the term for it, but it's an instance of finding things you're looking for. People tell stories from their own experiences - especially their most moving ones. In Lewis' case, his "conversion" was one of them.
Which is related to the Christian idea of... well, nothing, really.
Well, maybe renewal in general, especially once you've "fallen". I'll agree - there is no simple mapping.
One thing to strongly keep in mind is that Lewis, Tolkien and the other folks who liked to tell each other stories were deeply versed in many mythologies. One of Tolkien's criticism of Lewis was less that he was using Christian mythology to tell his stories (not because he was making it profane), but that he was taking the easy way out.
Probably the most preachy of the books is the Last Battle. You're getting there, and that's the time to have the next discussion. One thing I'd look for is the bit about how one may come to salvation when you think you're following another god. It's probably the single biggest point I'd throw at people looking to get upset at the books.
I think it'll be interesting to see if this point is preserved - along with Susan's downfall.
That's actually your sweetie I'm quoting, but since it wasn't in an open post, I thought it would be kind of awkward to link to him. =)
I dunno that reusing an existing mythology is all that much easier; you're going to be influenced by the mythology you already know anyway, and if you want to do a good job of reuse (which I think Lewis did), you have to put a lot of effort into filing off the serial numbers. So it's not hugely different from making it up from the whole cloth...
you're going to be influenced by the mythology you already know anyway
Witness most modern fantasy. :-)
Considering that all too many fantasy/SF writers grind their metaphysical axes so hard that you need to read them with safety goggles to protect your eyes from the flying sparks, I'm a bit surprised anybody's bothering to fuss over Lewis.