This afternoon I went to see Narnia. It was probably not as good as I had anticipated, as far as big block-buster special effects movies go. The lion was not always believable, and it didn't feel other-worldly enough for the vividly imagined Narnia of my childhood. The children acted fairly well, certainly more appealing than the bumbling Ron etc of Harry Potter. I liked Lucy. She seemed to capture a child-like rapture and faith. It's a good story, and I am sure that most people will enjoy it, but i am not sure that it will be the big conversion flick as promoted in some Christian circles. The parallelism is blindingly obvious as a Christian. However, if I did not know the Christian narrative, I am not so sure that I would come out wondering about Jesus (factoring out the possibility of a sovereign act of God).

Having said that, the film impacted me more on a spiritual level than possibly anything else I have seen in a good while. Edmund is deliciously naughty, and one feels torn between compassion for him and despising his flaws that enable him to betray his family for "a few sweeties" as the wily queen of ice points out. The audience obviously does not want him to perish for his crimes, as it seems as though he suffered enough. Yet the price had to be paid for the sake of the magic of the land. Easy to accept in a fantasy world. A hard truth to grapple with in our earthy existence. Why not forgive and forget? The incredible sacrifice of Aslan the lion is moving, and seems hugely unfair. Beautifully told, Clive Staples Lewis. In these scenes he captures the incredible act of Jesus with great simplicity and power, in a way that makes sense and breaks the heart. The quality of the film rendition scarcely matters here. The point is made, deeply. My connection with the salvation story throughout this film was deeper than I can express in words.

Another part that spoke to me was earlier in the film, when Peter is beset by a taunting wolf. Aslan saves him from the others that would otherwise have overpowered Peter, and one of Aslan's army offers to do away with the remaining wolf. Aslan stops him, saying that Peter was to fight this one himself. We are not just passive recipients of God's protection, provision. We need to stand! God will not let us be overcome, but we can have victory over the things that come our way, knowing that God is there with us in the midst of the battle. It was a defining moment for Peter – his first kill, and the seed of his courage was born. The Christian life is not an easy one, it is not simply a lovely little walk in the park. It is rough, dangerous, exciting, and one that requires courage. Courage that is founded in God, but exercised by us.

5 thoughts on “Narnia

  1. I too saw Narnia recently and enjoyed it although the values taught are not much different from superhero films.Courage,honesty,sacrifice and nobility are all values that many peolple would wish to aspire to.

    Why such values are called ‘Christian’ is somewhat misleading.It is as if these values have been usurped from general human values as they existed long before Christ.Would it not be more honest to call them Christ values as Christians may aspire to them but only Christ had them.I think that for Christians and non-Christians alike a similiar set of values is held.The proof is in the living and who can tell them apart?

    Is it therefore considered a Christian film because it is a fantasy?!

  2. As usual Simon, you pose some thoughtful arguments that I will actually need to go away and think about before replying properly (especially your concluding remark!!!!). Here’s a preliminary thought though: Where do our values come from in the first place? I agree that humanity does desire to aspire to the values that you mention in the first paragraph, and these values find expression in people from various walks of life and religious persuasions. However, I can’t help thinking that at least one of the values you identified (sacrifice) has to be somewhat maladaptive for a species that strives to survive by getting ahead of the pack. It almost makes more sense for humans to sacrifice others rather than themselves. This is certainly borne out in the business world. One only needs to look at Steve Job’s biography to see this in action (the guy responsible for the Apple empire).

    I think that we need some kind of narrative within which to make sense of our values. In the Christian story, these values originate in God, and their evidence in us is a reflection of his character.

  3. My second thought… You are right that these values existed before Jesus came to earth. However, in Christian theology, Jesus existed as part of God before the world was made. These values would have had their expression in God and humanity before Jesus, but were expressed in their ultimate form on this earth through Jesus’ incarnation. I am not sure how helpful this response is, as I guess it only makes sense from within a Christian framework. Oh, by the way, if you are not the Simon I know, I appologise for the more personal comment at the beginning of my last response!

  4. I don’t know know where our values originally came from but I imagine that they evolved just as man has.Our laws reflect those values we choose and can protect. I would say ,though, that sacrifice is practised by most parents on a daily basis and that if push came to shove they would put their life at risk to protect their children.
    The Christian story does provide an answer to the origin of values but it isn’t entirely plausible.If God gave all mankind the same values why wasn’t that reflected in all the different tribes across the earth?Each had different cultural practises some of which we would find cruel or perverse.The values of the tribe seemed to originate within it probably as a means to surviving and getting along with each other.

    Is it possible C.S. Lewis was a subversive? If he could only write the Christian story as a fantasy perhaps he was trying to tell us something?! The Christian story should be a human story and told as one without the need for fantasy.Unless that is what it is.

  5. You have a point there – sacrifice is often expressed by parents on behalf of their children.

    I guess I am not familiar enough with enough different cultures in the world to comment on how they vary. I do think that there are some basic values that are reflected across the board though – eg not killing, stealing etc. Punishments for breaking the rules or acting against the values can be severe in different cultures, and almost seem to contravene the underlying values they are supposedly preserving. I think that capital punishment is a good example of this in western culture.

    C.S. Lewis often wrote imaginative stories to convey spiritual issues. I think that they help convey Christian truth from fresh perspectives that can cut through our intellectual barriers. Jesus himself often used pictures to tell stories and illustrate points. My favorite book of this kind by Lewis is The Great Divorce. It is an intriguing look at heaven and hell, from the perspective of a tourist from hell who decides to take a bus trip to heaven. On one level it is fantasy – no-one really knows what either will be really like, however, it is a fascinating imagining.

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