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What Would Aslan Do?

Tomorrow night I'm going to the premiere of "The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe" at El Capitan. I am v. excited about this. I deeply loved the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid, and read and re-read them many times. Throughout my life I have had dreams of going to Narnia, too. This is a big moment for me.

What I do not want is the damn Religious Right stealing what is, at heart, a really good story. True, it has strong Christian allegorical content - but if it didn't stand on its own as a moving, meaningful fantasy story, it never would have captivated generations of children and their parents. I recently re-read the series, and while Christian elements of the story are unmistakeable to an adult, they're easily missed by a child. It certainly all went over my head when I was a kid.

It would do a strong disservice to Lewis' beautiful stories, then, to reduce them to nothing but a parable - there's so much more to Narnia than just Jesus-as-Aslan. There's a great story for anyone, regardless of their religious affiliation, to enjoy. Yes, Aslan's sacrifice is not dissimilar to Christ's crucifixion, as is their eventual resurrection and triumph over evil. Though... Jesus didn't need four English schoolchildren to help him out. Anyway, the point is - as a story, themes of redemption, sacrifice, and triumph through selflessness are powerful - they stand on their own.

If you're on the fence about whether you're 'allowed' to enjoy "The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe" or not because of your own religious ambivalence - consider that the story exists on its own, and is sufficient and worthy. If the religious right tries to "own" Narnia as something solely for Christians, they water down and corrupt it to be a far less worthy experience. Narnia is more than just an allegory - much, much more. It's up to us moderate, thoughtful folks to be sure that it is not dismissed as "The Passion of the Christ for Kids!"

Just ask yourself -- What Would Aslan Do?
(and feel free to steal this icon!)

Comments

( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
syntheticat
Dec. 7th, 2005 06:28 pm (UTC)
My senior year of high school I got roped into play aslan in the community children's theare production of TLTWATW.
Me, the spooky, wierd, dressed in black, most possiblly the most un-christian person in that tiny town, not to mention female......
Ohhh the church groups hated that last part.... "Why is "Jesus" female?"
It was a blast!!!!

After that I swore off anything remotely resembling yellow.......
aghrivaine
Dec. 8th, 2005 01:59 am (UTC)
After that I swore off anything remotely resembling yellow.......

Why? That was such a coup! Seriously, you coulda pulled the, "Would you say no to Aslan?" trick for ages!
syntheticat
Dec. 8th, 2005 02:17 am (UTC)
Normally I was the costume mistress for the kids theatre, but the kid supposed to play Aslan got run over and killed, and being the same time as the high school's yearly play, they were short on older kids. So one of the mothers took over and dressed all the animla parts in sweatpants, hoodies, and gloves plus full face paint.......just perfect for little kids under hot lights.
Well, they couldn't find yellow pants, and dyed a set of white ones for me to wear.....well...they shrunk a bit in the dye bath.....so it became a very uncomfortable, skin tight bright yellow monstrosity.......

evil flashbacks
I offered to do the costumes, but the director didn't want to set a pressidence by having an onstage person work in wardrobe.....you have no idea how badly I wanted to do those costumes......
mandyly1977
Dec. 7th, 2005 06:37 pm (UTC)
I agree. I loved the books when I was a kid and it definitely went right over my head then. I just loved the stories! :)
aghrivaine
Dec. 7th, 2005 06:39 pm (UTC)
And the stories are bigger than the message that's hidden inside them. To focus on the allegory and lose the story diminishes the work as a whole.

Bleah. I'm having a hard time articulating this.
mandyly1977
Dec. 7th, 2005 08:16 pm (UTC)
No, I understand what you're saying. Hopefully they will tell the story as was in the book and allow people to make of it as they wish, and not have the "Christian" meaning of the movie shoved down their throat if they don't want to.

I don't mind Christians taking the story and stressing the christian ideals, just as I don't mind non-christians celebrating Christmas :p Make of it what you will, people :)
lodengarl
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:29 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, I don’t get the sense that the Christian-right is stealing the movie for their own, just because they acknowledge and even take pride in the symbol of Aslan as Jesus and the importance of C.S. Lewis’ beliefs in the creation of his story. I would be more worried about the Disney uber-marketing juggernaut watering down the experience or childhood-beauty, cheapened for me by Aslan Big-Gulps at 7-11, Cair-Paravel-Parfaits at McDonaldsd etc. – and I am a marketing guy. To be honest, I didn’t get the symbolism when I was a kid either – it did not compute, but when I re-read them a year ago, I have to tell you, Aslan made me believe in a God, savior, whatever, more than anything else I have experienced, and I consider myself a spiritualist at the most – maybe that’s why; a giant, proud, all-loving, talking Lion calls back the peyote and animal-spirit-guides in the recesses of my brain. The Chronicles of Narnia and A Prayer for Owen Meany are the closest connections I have ever had to a Christian belief, and feeling that it all was perfect in some way. Not enough for me to jump in, but felt good to dabble with that all-loving light for a few moments and consider the wonder of it all.
aghrivaine
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
You know, I agree that Lewis' work as a religious parable is far more effective for adults - particularly adults who live in a country where the savior's name is invoked more often to condemn than to uplift. The image of the Savior as a lion, as a fierce, loving, just, and fair protector is powerful, particularly one who upholds good, and consorts with talking animals. That shit is groovy. Sunday school was never groovy.

But it's funny how kids just miss that. They just love the story - they miss the connection between Narnia and the bible.
lodengarl
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:41 pm (UTC)
Yep, and I know "born-agains" that will not buy the book or allow their children to read it since it has "witch" in the title, which shows you the insanity of absolute-thinking. For someone who was very religious (in the Christian/Jesus thang) and wanted to help share that love and teaching to children, these books could be used to highlight that so well.

I am a little nervous about the movie - saw a 5 clip the other night, when the beavers and kids are fleeing from the wolves and it was almost slapstick and felt like a scene from Twister when they are holding on to a pipe in a hurricane - not sure how they are going to mix the "reality" and danger of it all with the magical beauty of it. I pray they succeed (pun intended).
aghrivaine
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:43 pm (UTC)
the first time I saw the Captain of the wolves, looking at the kids and the beavers fleeing across the river, and he turns to his pack and says, "Take them." - I got chills. I was like.. Talking Animals of Narnia! I was so excited that they got the Talking Animals right.

I have high hopes.
lodengarl
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:45 pm (UTC)
I think it is all up to Mr. Tumnus to put the movie into the right frame.. when you read it, it is all frolicky and magical and then he gets dark, and you get scared and the horror of it sets in. Like Serkis as Gollum, I think that early scene, and first look at a magical beast will set the tone.
aghrivaine
Dec. 7th, 2005 07:48 pm (UTC)
Yeah - if Tumnus is believable, he'll be the Gollum for Narnia ... but if he's cartoonish, he'll be Jar-Jar. That would be a hard deficit to come back from.
nephandi
Dec. 7th, 2005 10:07 pm (UTC)
Aslan would definitely be a ninja.
aghrivaine
Dec. 7th, 2005 10:10 pm (UTC)
Hardly. Aslan isn't a tame lion!
erythromeister
Dec. 8th, 2005 01:43 am (UTC)
>Though... Jesus didn't need four English schoolchildren to help him out.

Nope, he needed twelve.

Aslan knows how to keep personnel costs down.

- E
aghrivaine
Dec. 8th, 2005 01:45 am (UTC)
'Course, Jesus hung out with Mary "Virgin for the right price" Magdelene. Aslan didn't keep such... uh... fast company. Jesus definitely had a posse.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 8th, 2005 04:18 pm (UTC)
I am just happy people are talking about the Chronicles of Narnia. For most of my life I honestly believed I was the only child in S. Philly in my age group that read any of the books. So in my lonely childhood Narnia really was my own “secret” land that I could go to when ever I wanted. It made it extremely special to me and as an adult instantly endeared me to anyone I met who knew anything about it.

One of the greatest joys in my life was passing my collection of the Chronicles to my son when he was 8 and talking about it with him. I am now passing them on to my niece who is so very much like me as a girl. It will warm my heart immensely should she fall in love with it like I did.

I am extremely fearful of the commercialization and marketing of it. It will kill me should McDonalds come out with an Aslan Happy Meal or if the Bible thumpers invoke his name to push their religious/political causes. But I am holding out for the greater good… for this move to inspire children the way Harry Potter books did- to pick up books and READ. It is so incredibly hard to interest children in reading these days, maybe just maybe this movie will move a child to read the books and hold the stories close to their heart the way I did so long ago. If just one child walks away and starts reading on a regular basis, the whole Hollywoodisation of it will be worth it to me.
beautesansbete
Dec. 8th, 2005 04:20 pm (UTC)
I am just happy people are talking about the Chronicles of Narnia. For most of my life I honestly believed I was the only child in S. Philly in my age group that read any of the books. So in my lonely childhood Narnia really was my own “secret” land that I could go to when ever I wanted. It made it extremely special to me and as an adult instantly endeared me to anyone I met who knew anything about it.

One of the greatest joys in my life was passing my collection of the Chronicles to my son when he was 8 and talking about it with him. I am now passing them on to my niece who is so very much like me as a girl. It will warm my heart immensely should she fall in love with it like I did.

I am extremely fearful of the commercialization and marketing of it. It will kill me should McDonalds come out with an Aslan Happy Meal or if the Bible thumpers invoke his name to push their religious/political causes. But I am holding out for the greater good… for this move to inspire children the way Harry Potter books did- to pick up books and READ. It is so incredibly hard to interest children in reading these days, maybe just maybe this movie will move a child to read the books and hold the stories close to their heart the way I did so long ago. If just one child walks away and starts reading on a regular basis, the whole Hollywoodisation of it will be worth it to me.
(Deleted comment)
aghrivaine
Dec. 10th, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC)
Nowhere did I say that it's a bad thing. What would be a bad thing is to reduce it down to *nothing* but a Christ metaphor, making it inaccessible to non-Christians.

In fact, I specifically have said, here and elsewhere, that it's a fine thing to use as a teaching tool for children, which was exactly Lewis' point.
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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