Discussion in 'Off-Topic Discussions' started by Charles, Nov 3, 2005.

  1. Charles

    Charles New Member
  2. Charles

    Charles New Member

    Barry Lynn's Americans United in a Huff Over Use of Christian Allegory
  3. Charles

    Charles New Member

    The Secret of the Wardrobe
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2005
  4. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    I read a couple of C.S. Lewis novels when I
    was much younger. I wasn't a Christian and wasn't tuned into that mindset. So I didn't even pick up on the things that so fascinate the evangelicals about Lewis. I never knew that Lewis was supposed to be a serious author until I saw what some English professors were saying about him. Nevertheless, the books worked well for me as fantasy books and that was all that I was really interested in.

    But more broadly speaking, religious themes are a fundamental staple of science fiction and fantasy. Many of the best stories, the ones with imaginative scope and emotional resonance, touch upon themes with clear and obvious religious implications:

    The basic nature of reality. Human interactions with higher powers of all sorts, ranging from demonic to divine. Different (alien) ways of knowing. The natural and the supernatural, science and magic. Man and demigods. Pride and hubris. The ultimate fate of humanity and of the universe. Quests for higher knowledge. The individual self in a world of cloning, thought transference and memory downloads. Cosmic struggles between good and evil...

    Pretty much any issue that you find in religion and theology has its analogue on the sci-fi and fantasy shelves. Decontextualizing it from its churchy devotional aura and high-seriousness actually makes it easier to play with the ideas creatively, to work out what their implications might be. There may be more stimulating religious thought taking place at sci-fi and fantasy conventions than at scholarly theological ones. It's true.

    But I really prefer it if I'm the one who intuits the religious themes in speculative-imaginative books and movies for myself, in my own way. I'm less comfortable if I'm pre-instructed on what everything means. Not only does that take the fun out of it, not only does it reduce the scope upon which my imagination is free to operate, it leaves me with the uncomfortable feeling that I'm being preached to.

    My impression is that this Narnia film is intended to be the opening film in what is hoped to be a multiple film franchise. But if Narnia becomes identified as an explicitly Christian film, a re-telling of the Christ story, then what it gains in church-group attendence might be matched by its sagging performance out there in the general audience. The fantasy audience might grow leery of it. They might feel that it seeks to box them in, not let them out.
  5. Guest

    Guest Guest

    When's the movie version of Screwtape Letters coming out? Oh, wait ... that was Devil's Advocate. ;)
  6. Charles

    Charles New Member

    Hi Bill,

    The Chronicles of Narnia were explicitly written as Christian allegory by an explicitly Christian author.

    Is it your contention that the Christian allegory should be somehow purged from the film?
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 18, 2005
  7. mattchand

    mattchand Member

    Perhaps he's refering more to how it's marketed rather than the actual story line?


  8. BillDayson

    BillDayson New Member

    That's what they tell me.

    Not necessarily.

    Fantasy readers do respond to religious themes. Fantasy is positively built on them, they are nothing new to the genre. But the fantasy audience likes them decontextualized from all the cultural baggage that religion brings with it. They like to be able to intuit the themes for themselves and they like the freedom to play with the ideas in their heads.

    I think that C.S. Lewis knew that, and it's why his books do work as fantasy, not just as religious tracts.

    By its nature, fantasy is liberating. At its best, it frees readers to think about religious themes outside the deep conceptual ruts that tradition has carved.

    But if the fantasy audience perceives that it's being preached to, being led, that there's one correct interpretation of all the allegory that they are expected to gravitate towards, and that their own ideas will simply be wrong if they don't acknowledge the story's true meaning, then that audience is apt to be turned off. They will have lost the ability to improvise around the themes, to explore and extend them for themselves, which is essential to fantasy.

    Of course the Christian devotional audience will love precisely those things that the fantasy audience doesn't. The whole aura of Christian truth about the thing. Its higher purpose. So if 'Narnia' becomes another Christian event-movie like the 'Passion' was, it will probably succeed at the box office even if it loses the fantasy fans.

    You know, this might be another example of the old medieval/modern dichotomy. One one hand you have the idea that man's religious path is to come to terms with revealed truth (the devotional audience), on the other hand you have the idea that individuals seek meaning for themselves (the fantasy audience). Authority vs individualism. Top down vs bottom up. Unity vs diversity.

    If there's anything to those speculations, then there may be something fundamentally modern about the fantasy genre today that sets it apart from the religious allegory of centuries past.

    C.S. Lewis kind of straddled that gap. That's part of his brilliance, I guess. It's a delicate balance and one that's very easy to bring down.
  9. Charles

    Charles New Member

    We went to see the movie this weekend. It's well worth seeing.
  10. SteveFoerster

    SteveFoerster Resident Gadfly Staff Member

    I saw it

    I saw it Friday. I didn't see anything particularly Christian in it, but then I didn't see much that was explicitly Christian in the books either. The one exception is where Aslan tells the children that on Earth, "You will know me by another name." This is not in the movie. Even though I'm not Christian, I always prefer when movies are true to the books on which they're based, and I would have preferred he'd said this in the movie.

    But whatever, either way it's a phenomenal movie!

  11. Laser200

    Laser200 Guest

    I saw the movie too. I think the movie only flirts with Christianity. However, I really liked the movie for its entertainment value.

    I don't think the movie is a replacement for church but it can supplement the learning process by establishing useful memory pictorials of relationships towards biblical aspects.
  12. Anthony Pina

    Anthony Pina Active Member

    No one is shocked that Michael Moore's work is marketed toward those who are predisposed to be critical toward George Bush. Why should certain reporters be so shocked that the distributers of Narnia would not have to be brilliant to figure out that believing Christians who buy C. S. Lewis' books would also be a natural target audience for the movie version. Some of the "alarm" reflected in some of the media reports that I have read and heard is quite amusing. There seems to be a genuine concern that those familiar with the New Testament can recognize parallels in a story written by a well-known Christian author.

    Narnia was pretty much what I and my family expect it to be. We recognized many of the biblical parallels. Of course, we can also watch other movies and most prime-time television and find parallels to other biblical passages about the "last days" ;)
  13. Kirkland

    Kirkland Member

    Having seen this movie over the weekend, I'd say it's a bigggggg stretch to say this is a Christian allegory or shows a religious theme. There was nothing religious about it. It's more about magic and fantasy displaying a hero theme based on self-sacrifice, nothing more. hmmmm... now I'm wondering about Old Yeller...
  14. Jack Tracey

    Jack Tracey New Member

    Of course, if we needed to discuss this in terms outside of religion we could begin by simply invoking the term "archetypes."
  15. StevenKing

    StevenKing Member

    Saw the movie this weekend, as well...

    This movie is well worth viewing and contains all the cinematic indulgences audiences have come to adore (i.e., mythical characters, Lord of The Rings battle scenes, etc.).

    As a Christian, I delved into this movie anticipating the same biblical parallels I observed when I read The Lion... in college. I was pleased and noted many of those parallels in the movie. My teenage daughters, both of whom profess belief in Christ, deduced biblical parallels, as well.

    However, The Chronicles are widely read independent of any Christian parallels that I, my family, or anyone else might deduce. C.S. Lewis writes great fiction which captivates our imaginations. I would love to see what Disney, Pixar, or DreamWorks could do with a work like ScrewTape Letters.
  16. mattchand

    mattchand Member

    Hmmm... now you're beginning to make it sound like the wonderful recent Batman Begins movie. ;)

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