David Kehr reports on Disney’s efforts to ensure that, in adapting C.S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles for the screen, it does not “offend the many Christians who count among the books’ fan base” by taking a secular turn.
Leaving aside the fact that the film will almost certainly butcher all that is unique and good about The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, there’s no question that the Narnia books appeal to more Evangelicals than the Harry Potter series.
But Disney and Kehr may not realize that the Lewis fables, although conscious Christ allegories, enrage many members of the Left Behind set.
Here’s a sampling of representative objections:
“Although to some it may seem to be a creative story, at best it is a very poor allegory by containing teachings that are contrary to the word of God. You may not agree with this review, you would be in the multitudes of those that do not. However, it would be very beneficial to your home and especially your children to look into the doctrine of the New Age teachings. Just remember that murderers, thieves or bank robbers and drug addicts do not wake up one day and say., “I want to become a thief for a living, I want to become a murderer, I want to become a bank robber, or I want to become a drug addict.”
“Lewis is teaching damnable false doctrine here, and it is even more wicked, in that it is intended for the indoctrination of children. First, according to Lewis, those who sincerely serve the devil (Tash) are actually serving God (Aslan), and will eventually be accepted by God. That is the heresy of Universalism, believing that God will somehow receive unbelievers and followers of false religions into Heaven even though they do not know Jesus Christ in this life.”
“The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first in this ‘Christian’ series of occult books for children. The title, itself, should be a tip off to a discerning Christian. How can a Christian book have such an occult label?”
Even the most faithful adaptation of the novels would highlight the White Witch and magic, and enrage a fair number of Potter-shunning Christians who don’t know or have forgotten about these plot elements.
So while some Evangelical Narnia fans will continue to see a distinction between Rowling’s books and Lewis’, many won’t.
Disney might as well just brace itself for the shitstorm. It’s always pretty entertaining. Unless you grew up with it.
Some follow-up from readers:
Out of the Woods Now provides an interesting quote from C.S. Lewis about the origins of the Narnia books:
Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age-group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out ‘allegories’ to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn’t even anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord. It was part of the bubbling.
And Susan Ramsey reminds me of the old “leaked-memo scandal about HarperCollins’ intention to secularize the Narnia books.” She says, “Damned by the Rapturites, damned by the secular — the man must have done something right.”