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Monday, May 8th 2006

7:45 PM

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

Recently I saw the movie, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, based on the novel by C.S. Lewis. I have not read the book, nor have I read extensively in C.S. Lewis, so my impressions are not illuminated by such knowledge.

The Chronicles of Narnia are said by many to be Christian allegories, and this was a major interest of mine in seeing the movie. I was disappointed as I didn't find it to be truly a very Christian movie. And I also thought it was considered a children's movie - at least, the books have a reputation as children's books - but the movie seemed clearly unsuitable for young children (it is rated PG for battle sequences and frightening moments).

There is an aspect of the movie clearly patterned after Christ's sacrifice. Aslan accepts death to save the life of Edmund, one of the children who is portrayed as a traitor, and then is resurrected. But this felt like a discordant element in the midst of a fairly conventional action movie. It didn't seem to me to fit well into the story.

The movie seemed to glorify war and violence. C.S. Lewis denounced Christian pacifism on the British air waves, from which other clerics were banned for their faithfulness to the Gospel, during World War II. To plop Christ's sacrifice in the middle of a story based on the conventional human view of how to achieve something (kill the people on the other side) represents an inability to absorb the meaning of Christ's minstry and sacrifice. The movie seems to mostly want Christ to be the Messiah many of those around Jesus thought the Messiah should be - a conquering war hero. But the gospels clearly portray Jesus as rejecting that model. The Chronicles portrayal makes Christ's sacrifice an anomalous element rather than the culmination of the whole gospel calling people to a very different way of living.

The experience of watching and reflecting upon this movie emphasized to me how critical the message of peace is to the Gospel. The whole message of Christ is severely crippled when one rejects this element.

-Bill Samuel
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