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A Movie I Won't See

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I remember disliking The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis when I read them in fifth grade, though I dutifully made my way through all but the last book in the series of seven: the elementary school librarian, whom I trusted thoroughly, assured me that they were required "great" children's literature, and I wanted to read all such great works. But at some point I just couldn't stomach any more--I found Lewis's books creepy and preachy and mean, and they got worse as the series went on. It was largely because of those books that I was reluctant to read anything else by Lewis: in high school I steered clear of The Screwtape Letters; in college I ignored what he had to say about Mere Christianity.

This review from The Guardian of Disney's new adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the first book in the series, describes some of the things I had the sense to be bothered by, even as a ten-year-old.

The headline reads, "Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion;" the review concludes

So Lewis weaves his dreams to invade children's minds with Christian iconography that is part fairytale wonder and joy - but heavily laden with guilt, blame, sacrifice and a suffering that is dark with emotional sadism.

Children are supposed to fall in love with the hypnotic Aslan, though he is not a character: he is pure, raw, awesome power. He is an emblem for everything an atheist objects to in religion. His divine presence is a way to avoid humans taking responsibility for everything here and now on earth, where no one is watching, no one is guiding, no one is judging and there is no other place yet to come. Without an Aslan, there is no one here but ourselves to suffer for our sins, no one to redeem us but ourselves: we are obliged to settle our own disputes and do what we can. We need no holy guide books, only a very human moral compass. Everyone needs ghosts, spirits, marvels and poetic imaginings, but we can do well without an Aslan.

Pretty much.

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