December 8, 2010
And Another Silly Quote from Narnia Land
Neeson not alone in denying Christ as obvious source of story; now a producer joins in
Presumably in the name of political correctness -- and trying to avoid having the film pigeonholed as a "Christian movie" -- one of the chief producers says he doesn't know if C. S. Lewis's Chronicles of Narnia are "Christian"? Yowzers. That's astonishing.
Johnson's full quote includes a reference to Aslan's clearly Christ-like death-and-resurrection scene in the first book and movie, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe: "Resurrection exists in so many different religions in one form or another, so it's hardly exclusively Christian. We don't want to favor one group over another ... whether these books are Christian, I don't know."
Even more astonishing is that Johnson's words come just a couple of days after Liam Neeson, the actor who voices Aslan, denied that his character solely represents Christ. Neeson said that Aslan "also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries."
Narnia fans around the world have been voicing their dismay at the comment ever since. Many of them are weighing in on Johnson's and Neeson's comments at Big Hollywood. "They are absolutely killing this movie for me," wrote one commenter. "C'mon, can't they even read the Cliff Notes . . . before talking about the movie?" Another: "How exactly do people in charge of making a movie not actually know what the movie is about?" And yet others are undeterred by the remarks: "I'm still going to see it. Nothing will deter me from this movie. NOTHING!"
Meanwhile, the film is clearly being marketed to Christian churches and leaders at NarniaFaith.com, a joint effort between Fox, Walden Media, and Grace Hill Media. In the section on sermon illustrations, evangelist Luis Palau calls Dawn Treader "a powerful story" about "discovering the risks, surprises, and revelations of life with Jesus Christ." Palau goes on to refer to Aslan as "Lewis' depiction of Jesus Christ."
Another pastor, Ken Foreman, refers to the story and film as "a wonderful analogy about our spiritual growth as Christians" and that Aslan's name "in our world is Jesus."
Palau and Foreman are absolutely right, of course. Even C. S. Lewis said as much: "The whole Narnian story is about Christ," he wrote. Lewis pictured Jesus as a lion partly because he's called "The Lion of Judah" in Scripture.
So, on the one hand, those behind the film are clearly unashamed to associate their product with Jesus and Christianity, as evidenced at NarniaFaith.com. But on the other, with the recent comments from Neeson and Johnson, it's quite a different story.
I'm not saying that Neeson and Johnson are obliged to shout from the housetops that Narnia is a Christian allegory. But to say things that essentially deny that fact seems like a foolish strategy at the other extreme. It miffs the core audience -- Christians who've loved these books for decades -- and confuses everyone else.