November 16, 2005

NPR Exorcises Jesus from Narnia

Yesterday I was listening to NPR (National Public Radio), and they did a short segment on the upcoming Narnia movie (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe). The lady setting up the piece made the most inexplicable comment. In reference to the lion, Aslan, she said that "some people take him to represent Jesus, but C.S. Lewis never made that claim," thus implying that, in her opinion, this is a spurious connection.

First of all, I think that it is the case that Lewis has formally made the connection. (I have found at least one quote to that effect in a cursory search.) He has absolutely affirmed that the entire series is Christian allegory. In fact, J.R.R. Tolkien scolded Lewis after reading LWW for having packed it with too many symbolic elements. So, do we suppose that Aslan, one of the main characters in all the books, could have escaped being ascribed some important allegorical roll?

Let's see, Aslan is involved in the creation of Narnia, he is the absolute lord over it, lives in a faraway land with an unseen "Father," gives himself up (for the sake of a sinful character) to be tormented and killed by the enemy, "resurrects" and casts out the evil overlord (White Witch), is a help in desperate times, and comes at the end of the Narnian world to bring justice and judgment. Hmm...what could he possibly represent?

Even if Lewis had never spoken of the symbolism it would not matter. If I silently don my raincoat and umbrella I do not have to tell you that it is for the sake of staying dry for you to know my purpose. Any Christian with a basic understanding of his Bible is going to spot the connections. This NPR correspondent is either too ignorant of Christianity and C.S. Lewis to understand the connection or she is simply exercising some agenda.

But what the heck could be the reason for wanting to downplay the theological connection? It is Lewis' story after all, and he was deeply Christian — a hero of the faith in fact — worse, a Christian apologist. Why should the raw data concern this lady? It is not as though the mere allegory proves Christianity to be true. Now, I have my ideas on this, but I'd much rather hear some feedback from my readers.


At 11/16/2005 3:23 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Well, I don't know how we could decide. Like you said, she either was ignorant of Christianity so as a reader and/or viewer (I assume) she didn't notice the parallels, or she knows this movie, like the stories, will be well-received by impressionable young people and she wants to make sure that no one associates a pleasant memory with Christianity.
Either could be the case.

At 11/17/2005 3:44 PM, Blogger -Joseph said...


At 11/17/2005 3:53 PM, Blogger roman said...

It was Kim Masters who downplayed the obvious Christian parallels of the story line and characters. Replay here:
I thought it was just me that sensed an undercurrent of anti-Christian bias on NPR. It seems like the same cast of characters have been in place and entrenched at NPR and are treating it as their own private fiefdom.
I still listen to them on occasion
but am always on alert for their subtle intonations of radical left-wing and anti-Christian bias.

At 11/17/2005 4:33 PM, Blogger Jeff said...

Roman, you're not alone. As long as 6 years ago I knew a guy who called it "National Liberal Radio".
It's social liberalism that is anti-Christian, and NPR certainly qualifies.
I don't think it's just an NPR problem. I think that much of the news media falls in to the same category.

At 11/18/2005 9:31 AM, Blogger Chris said...

Hrm... If you are a positive minded person, and try and come up with the best reason someone would do something bad, you might come up with this:

[thoughts of NPR reporter]

She said that because she thought it was such a good movie that she didn't want people to not go to it just because of that whole silly christianity thing.

People shouldn't miss out on such a cool film just because they are protesting christianity, or just because some christians have to ruin it by thinking about it alegorically instead of just seeing it as a neat story.

It's worth seeing, even if you aren't a christian. So why let all that religion crap get in the way. Go see the movie for what it is, and don't worry about all that silly allegory, after all, even Lewis didn't publicly say Alsan represented Christ (that she knew of, although she didn't research that claim. But why should she? Such a brilliant childrens book writer wouldn't do that, would he? Lewis just wrote children's books, didn't he?)

[/thoughts of NPR reporter]

That's probably along the lines of what she would have been thinking in a world free from malicious intent.

My boss loved the books. He read them when he was little and thought they where "rad". But then his teacher told him that Aslan was Jesus and he got angry that he had been "duped" (he felt) since he wasn't Christian. Maybe this lady wanted to keep similar things from happening, and make the movie more accessible and less "sneaky" to non-christians.

However, if you have a more negative outlook on the world (and non-christians and liberals), you probably think she is doing it to try and destroy the connection, and keep the movie from converting even more people the the crazy right wing extremist christian cults that are ruining our country...

I'm not sure which I think she was doing. Probably a little of both.

At 11/18/2005 12:43 PM, Blogger daleliop said...

That "sneaky" suspicion plagues everything Christian or remotely Christian these days. Probably isn't helped by tv preachers.

At 11/18/2005 1:43 PM, Blogger ephphatha said...

I can't remember which book it was, but in one of the books, Aslan told the children that they couldn't come back to Narnia, and they must go back to their world and discover what Aslan's name is in that world. Or something like that. But I don't think it could've been more obvious that Aslan was Jesus in this world. That's what he was trying to tell them. I suspect C.S. Lewis put that in there to get his readers to ask themselves the same question, "What is Aslan's name in this world?"


At 11/20/2005 6:53 PM, Blogger Vman said...

If a popular children's book preached promiscuity or racism on a symbolic level then NPR would probably try to ignore the symbolism and focus on the book on a literal level. I guess in their minds preaching christianity is as bad as preaching other much worse ideas.

At 11/21/2005 8:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I think the MSM has misunderstood "for everyone" to mean "non-Christian".

While the series was certainly written "for everyone", it does not follow that it must have originated from a pluralistic/secular worldview. To deduce so is to show a biased hand prejudiced against Christianity.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Westminster Presbyterian Church Columbia, TN