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Narnia

Saw Nar­nia the oth­er day.

Liked it.

Of course, the whole sto­ry makes no sense, but hey, that's how it's sup­posed to be.

If you have not seen it, and have not read the book, and in­tend to ig­nore the plot, please stop here. Ok?

There is this large li­on, Aslan.

He gives his own life to save that of a snivel­ing treach­er­ous, sil­ly kid who sells oth­ers for turk­ish de­light (a can­dy Rosario tried in Is­tan­bul, and tells me is pret­ty good, so there is some sense in him).

Ok, so the kid is ac­tu­al­ly just scared, and pet­ty, and a kid, and he's not that bad.

On the oth­er hand, the li­on...

For the whole movie, the White Witch is built up as evil, and mon­strous and a killer. But it turns out that the worse she does is freeze her vic­tim­s. Un­harmed.

She even­tu­al­ly kills some­one in a bat­tle (but so does Pe­ter, our 14-year old "hero").

The frozen guys can be re­vived at will by Aslan. Who for some rea­son had not done so.

On the oth­er hand, Aslan's big sac­ri­fice? He knew all along that he would be un­harmed. Even his mane re­grows af­ter a few hours.

At least he could have told the two poor girls who thought had seen him die. And skipped the whole heavy-­heart­ed "o­h, I am so sac­ri­fic­ing my­self" walk through the wood­s.

Oh, you may say, but the war is fought so that the true rulers of Nar­nia will as­cend to their thrones!

Well, how in hell are those four eng­lish kids the true ruler­s? They had nev­er been there, they have no con­nec­tion to any­one there!

Hell they are the on­ly four bloody hu­mans in the world!

It looks amaz­ing­ly racist to me. Species-ist?

So, hun­dreds of Nar­nia in­hab­i­tants die (and I mean re­al­ly die, not fake-die like that Aslan kit­ten) so some car­pet­bag­gers get to lord as kings over the ple­beian mass­es, in­stead of an­oth­er high­-born chick.

My sug­ges­tion to the hordes of gryphon­s, sphinx­es, po­lar bears, faun­s, cen­taurs and dwarves:

Kill them al­l, and start liv­ing a de­cent life, with­out sup­port­ing use­less par­a­sites.

Free Phillip!

PS: Yeah, I did like it ;-)

Giacomo / 2006-04-04 12:55:

Well, of course it's specie-ist: the big monotheistic religions all are! Man is always above nature, above animals, because god made it in his image! also it's the only living being who sinned, hence it's the only one that can be (saved|graced|forgiven|whatever). This is true of all the middle-eastern-originated monotheistic religions.



Btw, the Queen actually turns people into stone, not ice, thus effectively killing them. However, Aslan shows no remorse at all in slaying her, and that's not nice. But then again, this is C.S.Lewis, muscular evangelist for the first "conquering" religion...

J. Mohler / 2006-04-04 12:55:

You don't read the Bible much, do you? I don't mean that as a slam in any sense, but it shows in how soundly you missed the vast majority of the allegory in the movie. Or, maybe you got it and were just playing ignorant ... and understandable sort of approach.



However, I can't say I ever really thought about the "species-ist" aspect of the story. That's an amusing point.



--

Joel

Craig / 2006-04-04 12:56:

I've read the Chronicles of Narnia series, so I saw the movie knowing the back story. If I hadn't read the books, I'd have many of the same questions asked here. I can try to take a stab at answering them, although I'm sure others would do a much better job.



("abits" = Another book in the series)



I think that turkish delight was just a temptation this particular kid (Edmund) was prone to falling for. Another person might have weaknesses in other areas (some not suitable for a children's book). As I recall, pride was also one of the problems here (which in itself is pretty universal).



It's a story for children, so yeah, the White Witch only freezes people. I think more is implied though. Freezing people may have been simply a more mean-spirited way of getting rid of someone (because the victim is always around for loved one's to mourn over).



Aslan didn't revive the "frozen guys" right away because he wasn't in the country and hadn't been for at least 100 years. It could be hundreds of years before Aslan was seen in any particular place. When he returned to the area, he of course did unfreeze everyone and wound up with a sizeable army in the process.



Aslan wasn't "unharmed". He died a cruel death. He did know that he would come back (resurrect) though. But the "happy ending" question is a good one and can be asked in a slightly different way - If you believe that you will spend eternity in "heaven", why would you fear death? Yet people do.



How could four english kids be the true rulers? Because they were human. Humanity brought evil into Narnia in the first place (abits), so humans were responsible to help fight its effects. The fairy tale aspect of this clouds the issue, but being a King can be as much a curse as a blessing (abits).



There are not "only four bloody humans in the world". Only four in Narnia maybe, but there is a whole race of humans in a nearby country (there are other countries in Narnia)(abits).



Yes, a lot of Narnians did die, but they didn't really die for the four children. They died for Aslan. They respected the right of the children to ascend the throne because Aslan himself proclaimed the children Kings and Queens. If the children had proclaimed *themselves* King, they would rightfully have been ignored (or killed). Did Aslan have the right to make the children Kings and Queens, or didn't he? The Narnians thought so.



Not to give anything away, but it does all end in war, in case that's what you were looking for.



8^)

|



btw, the series really is worth reading.










Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 12:57:

J. Mohler: I am always amazed at how christians (sorry of you aren't, I didn't intend to offend you) always assume the other guy has not read the bible.



I did. I find it pretty badly written, lacking in argument, and it has a bad tendency to rely in deus ex machina for everything.



On a more interesting note, even the bible gets the resurrection thing better!



You see, Jesus was not sure, while on the cross, that he would come back. That's why he asks why his father has forsaken him.



If he knew he would come back on three days, all he had done was an extreme S&M; performance, with no real sacrifice other than transitory pain, giving nothing of lasting value.



So, god would **have** to make Jesus so that he was not sure, or even so that he was pretty sure he would die, for real.



Otherwise, the story loses pretty much all its mystical appeal.



And that from a writer 1800 years before Lewis, when the long narrative forms were still on diapers.



So, if you like the bible, you should not like the feeble copycat aslan.

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 12:57:

Giacomo: if they revive when a lion blows at them, they are not dead. Death, to be meaningful , has to be permanent, or we are in Dragonball land.

Giacomo / 2006-04-04 12:58:

Roberto, they are dead indeed; however, as you know, death for monotheistic religions is just a transitory status (depending on the various doctrines, the immortal soul is immediately rewarded/put on hold before judgement day/etc). Yes we _are_ in Dragonball land, after all; religion is just a big fantasy narrative with the aim to set shared moral rules for a community, as you know :)



I wouldn't take this against C.S.Lewis; I would however argue that the movie producers are part of a scary new breed of (not just american) christian propagandists whose cultural and political influence brought enough havoc already. That's Narnia "original sin"; unfortunately, the movie quality level is not enough to justify its existence, as it was the case for other subtly racist works like The Lord of The Rings.

Ian Monroe / 2006-04-04 12:59:

When I just read your blog, I figured you wanted to blog about the fallacies of the Bible, just use Narnia instead. I guess you draw a distinction between them though. I still wonder if that wasn't your plan though - a discussion of the plot of Narnia without talking about the Bible at all is pretty weird, about as weird if you had done the same for the Passion movie (wait, they're both passion movies!). Not that I'm defensive about the Bible, I just like people to be straight-forward.



All the children died in the train ride to the professors house. So if "Dragonball land" is your name for an educational purgatory, then yes, they're in Dragonball land. :)

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 12:59:

Ian: I usually try to approach things in their own terms.



If Lewis wanted people to talk about the bible, he should have called Aslan Jesus and avoid lots of trouble. Or written a religious tract instead of pretending to be writing for kids.



So, if it looks like kiddie fare, let's talk about it as kiddie fare. If it wanted to be taken more seriously, there are known ways to that goal.



However, as I mentioned in one of the previous comments, if you are going to start comparing both books, the Aslan sacrifice is much weaker than Jesus'.



Not to mention that Jesus never ate a roman, as far as the bible says (I am not discarding the possibility, since the catholic ritual has a trivial cannibal meaning).



As for Dragonball land... have you seen Dragonball? Every character dies a few times per season, then they are brought back unharmed.



In fact they are brought back as ghosts (helpfully marked by the halos ;-) and in the flesh (through several different mechanisms).



The problem with the Dragonball brand of theology is that if you can die and come back, then what's the problem? It's just a game!



Sure, it hurts for a few seconds (Aslan got one shove, got tied, got a haircut, a knife to the heart, and died in about 20 seconds!), but then you are just as well.



That's... well, that's lame.



I **love** the idea that all the kids die at the beginning of the movie.



Further, I would propose that the whole series is just a hallucination caused by poor oxygenation.



That would make Narnia a precursos of Mullholland Drive, which was a much better movie anyway! :-)

Craig / 2006-04-04 13:00:



I am fascinated by how quickly the discussion turned from "Narnia" to "Dragonball". I've only seen a little bit of Dragonball Z (the Cell Saga) and none of GT. You don't have to try very hard to see both Aslan and Goku as types of Christ. In some ways, Goku is a better model. And after he dies, Goku even takes on a role reminiscent of the Holy Spirit as he helps Gohan. It's a strange amalgam though. They're on "Snake Way" (not Christian), but they sport halos (not really Christian either, but in an artistic tradition). Weird. And in case the point was missed, when all of the people killed by Cell are resurrected, the announcer with the gravelly voice quotes 1 Corinthians 15:55 "O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?". I almost fell out of my chair when I heard that, and I wonder if that was in the original or just the english version.



I find the comments here about death/immortality/etc pretty interesting. It is well known that you can completely undercut all of Christianity by simply disproving one point, the resurrection. And the surprising part is that the Bible freely admits this. I hate to push a big quote on you, but Paul here is constructing an argument (in the same chapter as the above quote, interestingly enough, 1 Corinthians 15):



"Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen: And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain. Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not. For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised: And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable."



That's quite an admission! I especially like the last sentence, about being miserable because of belief in Christ. The next verse moots the argument however with affirmation of the resurrection and the ramifications for Christians. But still, I find it interesting that all of Christianity hangs on this thread.



Sorry for the long post.



8^)

|

Giacomo / 2006-04-04 13:01:

Well, I'd rather say that all of christianity hangs on a book whose historical origins are dubious at best (I'm talking about the book itself, not the story inside the book).

J. Mohler / 2006-04-04 13:04:

No offense about calling me a Christian (it's true). The point of my comment is that one of two things is true:

1) You don't know the Biblical story of redemption (in which case you totally missed the point of Narnia -- to be an allegory).

Or:

2) You are criticizing the Bible indirectly by criticizing the movie (in which case, I don't really know why you would watch the movie in the first place --- If the story is an allegory, then you should be arguing it's allegorical value rather than the value of the original.)



In any case, I'd say there is an even bigger issue with the Allegory in Narnia which no one else here has touched on. It's fundamental to the Bible that *all* have sinned and need Jesus' redemptive blood to free them. In Narnia though, Aslan only had to die for Edmund. Presumably the rest acquired Salvation by some other means.



How do you know that Jesus didn't know about His coming resurrection? If he was God (as I think the Bible makes moderately clear), then he certainly would have known the future in just the same way that Aslan knew of his future resurrection.



--

Joel

J. Mohler / 2006-04-04 13:05:

Ooops, I see you answered my question about Jesus knowing already. Your answer was that Jesus Himself testified to be "forsaken by the Father". However, I don't think this necessarily implies that Jesus didn't know. I think it is made clear elsewhere in the Bible that God could not bear to look at Jesus on the cross because of the mass of the world's sin that came upon Jesus. (Holy God cannot bear to even look upon sin).



--

Joel

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 13:06:

J. Mohler: I forgot. If I were to be a christian, I would have to be a Arian heretic. It makes much more sense, and simplifies this whole issue.

Roberto Alsina / 2006-04-04 13:06:

J. Mohler: "Holy God cannot bear to even look upon sin".



Well, so much for omnsicient and omnipotent.

Ian Monroe / 2006-04-04 13:07:

Almost everything Lewis wrote was religious. As in, I can't think of anything that wasn't so I'll just put "almost" ;). After Narnia, he is most known for his Christian theological writings. He didn't need to call it "Aslan Jesus" for it to be known that its an allegory. Those /are/ the terms of Narnia. It is in-fact a religious tract for kids.



And its not an idea that the kids die at the beginning of the movie, that is really what happens. :P Just pick up a copy of the last Narnia book "The Last Battle" or a Narnia compilation and read the last few paragraphs. Aslan explains it all.


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