I saw Narnia last evening and quite enjoyed it. There’s a few differences from the book, but they seem to have been included in an effort to take advantage of the difference between movies and books. I was particularly curious to see how the violence associated with the death of Aslan would be portrayed in view of the intended (child or child-like) audience.

Afterwards, three things struck me:

  • Edmund goes through most of the rationalizations for cooperating with evil, from rank self-interest to the preservation of others, only to find out that, in the end, no good comes of it.
  • As in the Gospels, it is the women who keep the vigil.
  • As in the Gospels, the sight of the empty table precedes the appearance of the risen Aslan. (The fact that the table is also broken is something of an “improvement” on the imagery of the Gospels.)
  • And of course, who can do other than love Mr. and Mrs. Beaver? Anyway, it’s a good story and if I owned a TV, I’d buy the video when it comes out.

    9 Replies to “Narnia”

    1. I have read the book for the first time with my kids. I like your observations. Would you recommend it for kids under 12?

      I’m not sure that the broken table is better than the stone being rolled away. Both are powerful images.

      One thing I question is the witch. I suppose she represents Satan? Does this imply that the atonement was paying a ransom to Satan? I know the hymn I Believe in Christ says this as well. I’m not sure that is the way I view the atonement.

    2. I sat next to an eight-year old, who had no problems. My thought is that the presence of mum and dad makes a big difference in a dark theater. Some folks would do better seeing it in a brilliantly lit family room on the small screen, too.

      But, for the record, I’m childless. You’re best bet is to ask another adult who’s seen the movie and knows your children.

      Hm, yes, the witch. I’ve been thinking on her and on Father Christmas. Exegesis is the ultimate reading experience, and we exegetes usually love a good story, even in the face of certain improbabilities.

      For the record, the NT never identifies to whom the ransom is paid. This is, I think important theologically. In the NT, God holds the initiative w/o fail and the whole business of the death of Jesus is his idea and activity. So there’s no one else to force God’s hand in the matter.

      I concure in your judgment that the death of Jesus was not accomplished by the instigation of evil folks, or Satan himself. The “volunteer” business in always crucial to God’s plans.

      That said, there are some other reasons to think “Satan.” She’s an evil ruler, unfaithful to the covenantal loyalty of her servants, who has laid false claim to the land. She challenges the rightful ruler. Her role draws more from the imagery associated with the kingdom of God than from the ransom metaphor.

    3. Hmmmm…

      Let’s see. I just saw Narnia last night, and it was really good. But the thing is, I don’t remember the book so I don’t know if the book was better! I am in quite a dilemma.

    4. FWIW, I always thought that the ransom was paid to Justice. I think I’m thinking of something like this:
      2 Nephi 9:26

      This is another one: Jacob 6:10
      Is Justice another one of those immutable laws of the universe, that even omnipotent beings must follow?

      Whoops, stepping a little far from the path of the topic, sorry.

      I got the book as a Christmas present, and have barely started reading it, in preparation for seeing the movie. It’s amazing how fast Lucy ends up in Narnia. We get very little characterizations from the other children, almost no set up, and boom! she’s there! (I think Robert Jordan and his 150 page prologues should take note.)

      And, um, I hate to admit this, but I read this as a child and didn’t see ANY of the obvious Christian metaphors in it. I would probably blame this on my religious upbringing which seemed to focus more on Old Testament than New.

    5. Woops, someone is talking to me and I’ve missed it for a day or so. Sorry. I am glad to hear that you are reading the book and anticipating the movie. I quite enjoyed it. And as for Robert Jordan…I quit reading him after the third or fourth volume. My life isn’t that long.

      Anyway, this whole business of “ransom” is metaphorical language, as is your personification of “justice.” It’s part of a larger set of metaphors used to articulate the effects of Jesus’ death.

      You are no doubt familiar with others in this set: justification, sanctification, redemption, etc. The use of these metaphors suggests that indicative language is not really capable of expressing the reality of the event.

      The presence of so many metaphors to describe the same thing suggests that no single metaphor correctly captures the entire reality. Many of these metaphors are not totally “worked out.” In this case, the entity to whom the ransom is paid is missing, probably b/c it is theologically problematic.

      Lots of folks try to fill in the “gap.” It’s an integral part of the reading experience, of “trying on” the metaphor, so to speak. At some point, however, I try to remember that when I work on these gaps I’ve stopped being a reader and started to become an author.

      My thought is that it only becomes an issue when I try to either force the metaphor beyond its limits, usually to fit an idiosyncratic theology, or to force my personal understanding on others. In this case, I usually note the gap in the metaphor and move on so as to avoid creation of some odd (or odder than usual) theology.

      But to each his own, as they say. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the movie.

    6. So, in other words, just take it as a metaphor to aid in understanding, not as a “perfect fit” comparison, right? I’ll try to remember that when I’m reading LWW, too. “Hey, this is a stone slab, not a cross!”

    7. Yeah, that’s how I do it. I’m not much of a one for pushing the envelope on this stuff, I guess. Others like to see where they can go.

      Yeah, a stone slab, but when you see the movie, the slab is surrounded by some menhirs that make it vaguely Stonehenge-like. And as it turns out, the sun rises at precisely the right place…

      When you see the movie, let me know what strikes you.

    8. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I did recently finish the book. It’s weird how little fluff there is in between major events. The space of time between Aslan’s death and reappearance (I hope we don’t need spoiler space for this!) is really short. At the end, they pop out of the wardrobe, the professor gives them some admonishments, and The End. Where’s my Epilogue? I need more wrap-up! Ah, too spoiled by modern fantasy.

      So, here’s my question: where the freak does CSL come up with that “Adam’s first wife” crap? I’ve encountered it before (Lilith Faire?), but just thought it was, you know, bogus. It seems odd to have it in there – what point is he trying to make? (Is he the origin of the Lilith concept?) I mean, aside from the witch not being a daughter of Eve, because daughter of Adam just doesn’t have the same ring to it.

    9. Lillith is a rabbinic legend, developed primarily to explain why Eve rebelled. The idea was, “If you think she was bad…you should have seen the first one.”

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