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Tamed! How A Declawed, Defanged Aslan will End Our Species and Our Souls - The Ornery American


Tamed! How A Declawed, Defanged Aslan will End Our Species and Our Souls
By Kendal Brian Hunter January 26, 2006

"What do I think about civilization? I think it's a great idea; why doesn't someone start one?"
      -Attributed to G. K Chesterton

Søren Kierkegaard once remarked that the purpose of his was "to introduce Christianity again-into Christianity." (The Essential Kierkegaard, 458). Lewis, also a Christian writer, took a different track. He repeatedly denied that he was writing didactically:

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. (On Stories, 46)

He maintained that he had the Writers Itch, and that his writing all started with images, with the spiritual elements being secondary. "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." (ibid.)

Although he did not direct intend his stories to be didactic, there was a connection between his personal philosophy and the content of his stories. In his essay "Christianity and Literature," Lewis asserted that writing was part of his religion: "the Christian knows from the outset that the salvation of a single soul is more important than the production or preservation of all the epics and tragedies in the world: and as for superiority, he knows that the vulgar since they include most of the poor probably include most of his superiors." (Christian Reflections) He also asserted, "We can play, as we can eat, to the glory of God." (ibid.)

Since Lewis understood that his fiction and his religion were one and the same, having Disney produce the movie version of his books presents two problems: one is the ability to successfully execute a children's film in the way Lewis would have wanted it to be done, and second, their faithfulness are they to Lewis's philosophy.

In America, Disney, hands down, is the industry standard in producing children's films. They have the capital, distribution, and have the lion's share of marketing with all the merchandising tie-ins, not to mention the two Disney cable channels, plus Radio Disney. They are the powerhouse.

The second question, "How faithful will they be to Lewis's philosophy?" is not so clear cut. In his exposé, Disney: The Mouse Betrayed, Peter Schweizer outlines how Disney is not just an animation factory, but also an ideological factory. Specifically, Disney has been an advocate of left wing ideologies. Pocahontas, for example, has some anti-industrial, anti western themes involving the land, environmentalism, and so forth.

They also advocate non-traditional sex-roles. Mulan is one long commercial (product placement) for women in the military, not to mention a subtext of transvestitism-remember the ghost's comment about cross-dressing? Or consider Atlantis: The Lost Empire, with Santorini a male florist and Ramirez, the gang-banger mechanic. Furthermore in Lilo And Stich, Disney presents a running gag with Agent Pleakly in drag, and fighting with Dr. Jookia over a wig, not to mention the name of Agent Bubbles-is he a Man In Black, or a dance girl?

Brother Bear climaxes with a human choosing to be a bear. This is a weird anti-human, animal-rights, quasi-reincarnation story. Parenthetically, Cicero observed that a person would rather die than be turned into some form of animal with a human mind, although this was better than having an animal mind in a human body (Republic 4:1).

Individually, they can be dismissed, but taken together-including Disney's unofficial Gay Day-they show an obvious list leftward.

This is the problem: C. S. Lewis was an unabashed traditionalist. As he outlined in The Abolition of Man, he believed there was an underlying and objective moral law, which was foundational to all human behavior. Furthermore, he is a tightly integrated philosopher. Even his essay on bicycle riding in Present Concerns is integrated with the emotional tension in Till We Have Faces. There is no question where he stood on the great issues.

He was foursquare against relativism. In his essay "The Poison of Subjectivism," Lewis unequivocally states, "Out of this apparently innocent idea [that values are subjective] comes the disease that will certainly end our species (and, in my view, damn our souls) if it is not crushed; the fatal superstition that men can create values, that a community can choose its 'ideology' as men choose their clothes." (Christian Reflections). That is, when we start tinkering and changing with the One Moral Standard, we lose the ability to make any moral assertion. Lewis asserted:

This thing . . .which others may call Natural Law or Traditional Morality or the First Principles of Practical Reason or the First Platitudes, is not one among a series of possible systems of value. It is the sole source of all value judgments. If it is rejected, all value is rejected. If any value is retained, it is retrained. (The Abolition of Man, Chapter 2)

Although Lewis conceded that there could be refinements within our understanding of the Moral Law (ibid.; c.f. Summa Theologica I-II.94.5), the fundamentals of Traditional Morality are locked into place. It is a package deal that cannot be altered or amended. There is no other morality: "The human mind has no more power of inventing a new value than of imagining a new primary color." (ibid.)

This relativism, as Lewis saw it, is poison. First, by declaring all things relative, you lose the ability to make any ethical statement: "My point is that those who stand outside all judgment of value cannot have any ground for preferring one of their own impulses to another except the emotional strength of the impulse." (The Abolition of Man, Chapter 3) Intellectually, when you argue against the Moral Law, "you are arguing against the very power that makes you argue at all: it is like cutting off the branch that you are sitting on." (Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 3)

The second consequence is political abuse: "I am very doubtful weather history shows us one example of a man who, having stepped outside traditional morality and attained power, has used that power benevolently." (The Abolition of Man, Chapter 3). And why should a tyrant stop? If one aspect of Traditional Morality, such as sex roles, is free to go, then human rights are also free to go, too.

The Communist Manifest, for example, affirms that "Law, morality, religion, are . . . so many bourgeois prejudices." (The Communist Manifesto, Part I). Granting this, then it logically follows that "The Communists disdain to conceal their views and aims. They openly declare that their ends can be attained only by the forcible overthrow of all existing social conditions." (ibid, Part IV) Their juvenile tu quoque is that morality is a construct of the bourgeoisie; therefore, once we communists are in power, we are free to change morality to our benefit.

Violence was not accidental to the Communists. Consider this bald-faced assertion:

Of course, in the beginning, this cannot be effected except by means of despotic inroads on the rights of property, and on the conditions of bourgeois production; by means of measures, therefore, which appear economically insufficient and untenable, but which, in the course of the movement, outstrip themselves, necessitate further inroads upon the old social order, and are unavoidable as a means of entirely revolutionising the mode of production. (ibid., emphasis added)

Violence is their life-blood. In criticizing Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism, Marx and Engels criticize them as being too peaceful!: "Hence, they reject all political, and especially all revolutionary action; they wish to attain their ends by peaceful means, necessarily doomed to failure, and by the force of example, to pave the way for the new social Gospel." (ibid., Part III, emphasis added). If there is no absolute morality, then any end can-and will-justify the means.

Consider this thought experiment: compare and contrast what happens when a tyrannical, "l'etat-c'est moi" type of dictatorship based on absolute whim invades a country, as opposed to a republic based on Traditional Values. For historical instances, think of Hitler invading Poland, France, and Britain. Consider Imperial Japan invading Korea, Manchuria, Taiwan, and Hawaii. Remember the Soviet Union invading Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Afghanistan.

Contrast this with what happened when the United States invaded Japan, Germany, or Iraq. (Hint-purple finger.) America was founded upon respect for Lewis's Traditional Morality-those self-evident truths and inalienable right to life, liberty, and property, all traceable back to Nature and Nature's God (Deceleration of Independence; c.f. Federalist 43). George Washington saw Traditional Morality an essential part of patriotism:

Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism, who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. . . . Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle. It is substantially true that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who that is a sincere friend to it can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric? (Farewell Address)

History has its own wreckage of regimes and civilizations that violated the Moral Standard. Ponder Moloch-worshiping Carthage, the French Revolution's love affair with Madame Guillotine, the human-sacrificing Aztecs, and the Islamofascist homicide bombers. Free government, and indeed civilization itself cannot exit without Traditional Morality, which is why Lewis spent so much defending it, including in his Narnia books.

Therefore, the problem is that ideologically, Lewis and Disney are polar opposites. This makes Disney doing an obvious Christian film not only odd, but risky. Considering the recent Conservative Christian boycotts of Disney, I appreciate Disney taking the risk of making this film. However, taking a "new tone," does not resolve the deeper intellectual issues. In fact, having a "new tone" only serves to delay and aggravate an unresolved conflict. For a historical example from America, consider the Missouri Compromise; it solved nothing, and created more problems than it solved. All compromises on fundamentals are ultimately compromising.

Disney is Disney, and they have the leftward list which we cannot deny. On the other hand, Lewis is Lewis, and an acknowledged traditionalist. Sadly, the film version of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a tamed and declawed version of Lewis's philosophy.

Specifically there are three key deviations-even betrayals-from C. S. Lewis's core though.

The first deviation was when Professor Digory Kirke cross-examines the children. The movie gives us a streamlined and muddled example of logic. We see a syrupy truism about family loyalty, rather the precise and agile thinking that Lewis gave us in the book. In Chapter Five, the Professor first gets the children to establish who is the more reliable, and then, if Lucy is more reliable in general, then why didn't they trust her in this particular instance. The Professor establishes the classic trilemma: either Lucy is telling lies, is mad, or she is telling the truth.

Aside from being a piece of practical logic, this same trilemma is essential for Lewis's apologetics. In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis likewise establishes that our reaction to Christ follows a similar trilemma for Christ. He is either Lord, Liar, or Lunatic:

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish things that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of thing Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would rather be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God...But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. (Mere Christianity, Book II, chapter 3)

In fact, this bare-knuckled logic chopping comes from C. S. Lewis's childhood. At one of his boarding schools, Lewis had a real Professor Kirk whom he described as "a man who came near to being a purely logical entity." On their first meeting, Professor Kirk gave C. S. Lewis quite an intellectual grinding. Lewis relished this logical discipline: "Some boys would have not liked it; to me it was red beef and strong beer. . . . No doubt I snorted and bridled a little at some of my tossing; but, taking it all in all, I loved the treatment." (Surprised By Joy, Chapter 9). The Lewis we know today was perfected in that intellectual crucible.

Having a logical mind was not just essential to apologetics; it is the basis for the good life. Lewis understood, as did Cicero, that Moral Law was "in the proper sense is right reason in harmony with nature." (Republic 3:33). In addition to following nature, right reason was necessary to live a moral life, including moral civic life. George Washington saw rationality as one of the cornerstones to the foundation of America. In his 1789 Thanksgiving Proclamation, he specifically mentioned "the peaceable and rational manner in which we have been enable to establish Constitutions of government for our safety and happiness, and particularly the national one now lately instituted." (emphasis added). Traditional Morality coupled with right reason was the basis of safety and happiness in the New Nation, and for Lewis's personal philosophy.

You can only understand the precepts of Traditional Morality by way of reason. Without right reason, we become moral idiots-much like the way the Bible described the Ninevites: people who "cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand" (Jonah 4:11). That is why Professor Kirke keeps exclaiming, "What are they teaching in schools these days?" Muddled thinking was the surest way to muddled living. It would also lead to the end of our species and the damnation of our souls: we would be unable to tell the difference between a saint and a sinner, and between God and the devil..

The second deviation from Lewis's thought is with his view on sex roles, specifically women in combat. In the film, Father Christmas (it would have been helpful to have him look less Medieval, and more like the traditional Santa Clause) gives Lucy the vial and a small dagger, and Suzan the horn and a bow. In the book, Santa does not arm the girls and succinctly stated that "Battles are ugly when women fight." (Chapter 10).

For purposes of the plot, Lewis's version is the correct one. In the film they do not use the weapons at all. Instead of joining the boys in battle, Lucy and Susan follow Aslan through his passion, echoing Martha and Mary's journey with Jesus during the Crucifixion (Matthew 27-28). This unnecessary change is an obvious nod to Political Correctness, but it is a slap in the face to Lewis's overall philosophy about women's roles.

Part of the traditional moral order that Lewis believed in included traditional roles for women, including marriage (Mere Christianity, Book III, Chapter 6). He was against priestesses in the Church (God in the Dock, Part II, Chapter 11). In his essay "Equality," he asserts that sex inequality was "an erotic necessity" (Present Concerns, 19). This is startling similar to Ayn Rand's assertion that a woman would not make a good president, since it would affect her love life: "the essence of femininity is hero worship" and a female president would have no heroes, and no love-life (The Voice of Reason, 268).

Lewis saw women in combat as a violation of Traditional Morality inasmuch as it was a violation of Traditional Marriage. If, as we all concede, it is terrible for men to go off to war, then a fortiori it is worse for females. First of all, military service is disruptive to Traditional, Nuclear Families. If both dad and mom are in the Demilitarized Zone, then who is watching Suzie and Johnny? Parenthetically, this effort to displace Traditional Nuclear Families is one of the reasons why the Nazis' had the Hitler Youth. Also, The Communist Manifesto states, "The bourgeois family will vanish as a matter of course when its complement vanishes, and both will vanish with the vanishing of capital." (The Communist Manifesto, Pt. II). Hand in glove, the family would vanish as the state provided free education of youth (ibid.).

Secondly, women have an instinct for beauty that would get corrupted: "The beauty of the female is the root of joy to the female as well as to the male." (That Hideous Strength, Chapter 3, part 3).

Lewis was not a chauvinist pig. He did portray a female as a warrior, which contrasts with Lucy and Susan. His masculine heroine Orual has none of the sweetness that Lewis's other female charters. She describes herself in bleak terms: "I have no husband nor child, nor hardly a friend, through whom they can hurt me. My body, this lean carrion that still has to be washed and fed and have clothes hung about it daily with so many changes they may kill as soon as they please." (Till We Have Faces, 3). Her primary endeavor is to write an accusation and complaint against the gods for her cursed life. Throughout the story, she has sarcastic laments such as "If I'm to be hard-featured as a man, why shouldn't I fight like a man, too?" and "I am a great queen. I have killed a man. I have drunk like a man. All warriors drink deep after the battle. (ibid., 198, 224). Lewis was on to something-war makes a woman like Lady Macbeth and unsexes her.

Lastly, Lewis furthermore believed that there was something eternal and cosmic about sex roles. In two of his Space Trilogy books he was emphatic on this point. In Perelandra, Ransom is sent to Venus to prevent the planet from undergoing a Fall. Weston, the Tempter, tries to seduce the Eve-figure with stories of various liberated women.

At last it dawned on [Ransom] what all these stories were about. Each one of these women had stood forth alone and braved a terrible risk for her child, her lover, or her people. Each had been misunderstood, reviled, and persecuted: but each also magnificently vindicated by the event. The precise details were often not very easy to follow. Ransom had more than a suspicion that many of these noble pioneers had been in what ordinary terrestrial speech we call witches or perverts." (Perelandra, Chapter 10)

Perelandra concludes with Ransom preventing a Fall, and having a vision of the Platonic Forms of Adam and Eve-male and Female. Lewis would reject the post-modern notion that sex and gender roles are merely social constructs. He saw these roles as part of Divine Providence.

That Hideous Strength takes traditional sex roles to the next level-sacramental marriage. Jane, a student at Bracton College is nudged into marriage by Ransom, who has assumed the role of Director Fisher-King. Salient ideas from the conversation are:

  1. "Child," said the Director, "it is not a question of how you or I look on marriage but how my Master looks on it."
  2. "They would say . . . that you do not fail in obedience through lack of love, but have lost love because you never attempted obedience."
  3. "Equality is not the deepest thing, you know."
  4. "But you see that obedience and rule are more like a dance than a drill-specially between man and woman where the rules are always changing."
  5. "You are offended by the masculine itself: the loud irruptive, possessive thing-the gold lion, the bearded bull which breaks through hedges and scatters the little kingdom of your primness as the dwarves scattered the carefully made bed. The male you could have escaped, for it exists only on the biological level. But the masculine none of us can escape. What is above and beyond all things is so masculine that we are all feminine in relation to it. You had better agree with your adversary quickly." (Chapter 7, Part 2; Chapter 14, Part 5)

The last quote hits the crux of the matter for Lewis. The Church transmits gender roles, and to transvalue the gender roles is to transvalue Christianity and God Himself. This, in turn, would damn our souls. He stated:

Christians think that God Himself has taught us how to speak of Him. To say that it does not matter is to say either that all the masculine imagery is not inspired, is merely of human origin, or else, thought inspired, it is quite arbitrary and unessential. And this is surely intolerable: or, if tolerable, it is an argument not in favor of Christian priestesses but against Christianity . . .The Church claims to be the bearer of a revelation. If that claim is false then we want not to make priestesses but to abolish priests." (God in the Dock, "Priestesses in the Church")

The film left out one key bit of information: the Witch was a daughter of Lilith (Chapter 8). Lilith, according to The Alphabet of Ben-Sira, is Adam's mythological first wife. She was adopted as a feminist figure (i.e. The Lilith Fair) because of the dispute she had with Adam. In essence, during intercourse, she did not want to be on the bottom, but on the top, which is why Lewis said that inequality was "an erotic necessity."

As a symbol, the Witch is the usurper. She is not only a usurper to Aslan, but also to the children.

"That's what I don't understand, Mr. Beaver," said Peter, "I mean isn't the witch herself human?"

"She'd like us to believe it," said Mr. Beaver, "And it's on that that she bases her claim to be Queen. But she's no daughter of Eve. She comes from your father Adam's" -(Here Mr. Beaver Bowed)-"Your father Adam's first wife, her they called Lilith. And she was one of the Jinn. That's what she comes form on one side. And on the other side she comes from the giants. No, there is not a drop of real human blood in the Witch." (Chapter 8)

Lewis, of course, is borrowing images from Beowulf. The monster Grendel was part of Cain's family. After God cursed Cain for slaying Abel, Cain sired monsters, ogres, elves, phantoms, and giants (Beowulf 99-114). Lilith usurped Adam, Cain usurped Abel, and the Witch usurped Aslan and the Human Children.

This usurpation would bring the twin curses of our species end and our souls damned. Lewis understood that order-social, matrimonial, spiritual-was dependant upon hierarchy, or inequality. Using Ulysses's speech in Troilus and Cressida (I.iii.75-142), Lewis explains that the universe has a hierarchy that is essential to order.

According to [the Hierarchical conception] degrees of value are objectively present in the in the universe. Everything except God has some natural superior; everything except unformed matter has some natural inferior. The goodness, happiness, and dignity of every being consists in obeying its natural superior and ruling its natural inferior. When it fails in either part of this twofold task we have disease or monstrosity in the scheme of things until the peccant being is either destroyed or corrected. One or the other it will certainly be; for stepping out of its place in the system (whether it step up like a rebellious angel or down like an uxorious husband) it has made the very nature of things its enemy. It cannot succeed. (A Preface to Paradise Lost, 73-74)

Arming the girls, as Lewis clearly and consistently understood the idea, was a moral wrong that not only would affect the girls, but also would be disastrous for the Cosmos as a whole. It would be nature violating herself.

Natural hierarchy is not isolated to Lewis. He observed "A failure to accept [Shakespeare's] notion of natural authority makes nonsense, for example, of The Taming of the Shrew." (ibid, 75). Likewise, a person who does not take "Honor thy father and thy mother" seriously cannot understand Oedipus Rex.

Although he understood the headship of man in marriage, he understood that it was not a license for license. In his own marriage, he understood natural give and take. Of his own wife, he said:

How many bubbles of mine she pricked! I soon learned not to talk rot to her unless I did it for sheer pleasure.-and that's another red-hot jab-of being exposed and laughed at. I was never less silly than as H.'s lover. (A Grief Observed, Chapter 1)

So he was by no stretch of the imagination unenlightened, or a so-called Neanderthal. But he was concerned with happiness, which was dependant upon order, justice, and obedience to Nature and to Nature's God. Compared to all the women who have nice 401(k)s, no children, and a lot of menopause. Which is better for civilization and for the soul?

Arming the girls is a subtle change, and it is fraught with disaster. Lewis unequivocally would not have approved of the change. Disney not only let the fans down, he let Lewis down as well. This small act was part of the larger process that would end of our species and damn our souls

The last deviation relates to Aslan's Atonement, which is the heart of the story, inasmuch as Christ's Atonement is the heart of Christianity (1 Corinthians 15: 14). In the film, three important parts of the back-story are missing. The first is when the children meet with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (Chapters 7-8). The book gives important foreshadowing to Aslan, building up to actual climax when they meet. Mr. Beaver explains:

  1. That Aslan is a lion.
  2. The mere mention of the name sparks a numinous feeling in the children.
  3. There is confusion over the term "lion": "Aslan is a lion-the Lion, the great Lion!"
  4. Aslan is "isn't safe. But he's good."
  5. He is the son of the Emperor-Beyond-the-Sea

This back-story is essential to the layer and depth of the story, and sharpens the first meeting of children and Aslan. A similar tension-building device was used in The Third Man. All throughout he movie we here the characters talk about Harry Lyme. When we finally see the cat playing with the shoelaces and the passing light across Orson Welles's face, it hits you like a dagger. As the movie stands, this drama is lost.

Second, we loose the Witch's back-story, which was discussed earlier. When the Witch parleys with Aslan, we did not hear Mr. Beaver shout, "Oh! So that's how you came to imagine yourself a queen-because you were the Emperor's hangman. I see." (Chapter 13).

The last mining element essential to Aslan's Atonement was the interplay between the two laws. This concept, so essential to Christ's Atonement, was excised, and thus deflated the impact of Aslan's Atonement.

In Narnia there are two laws, or governing spells. The fist, explained in Chapter 13, is the Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time, is associated with traitors, and is what empowers the Witch in her claims on Narnia, and also her claim on Edmund. The second law or spell, explained in Chapter 15, is Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time. It is more powerful and associated with mercy and atonement. By this law, Aslan frees Edmund and establishes his correct claim on Narnia.

Christian theology follows a parallel pattern. In Hebrews 7, Paul explains that there are three orders of law or priesthood: The first is the Levitical, or Aaronic order, associated with the old covenant and the law of Moses. It is symbolized by Levi and Aaron. The second law or order is the Abrahamic order, and is symbolized by Abraham, and does not get much attention in the simile. The last order, or law, is the Melchizedek Law or order, symbolized by the enigmatic Melchizedek.

In explaining the relationship between these three laws, and the superiority of the Melchizedek order, Paul uses the meeting between Abraham and Melchizedek, described in Genesis 14:18-20, as a symbol. Melchizedek, who is superior to both Abraham and Levi (Levi, being unborn, was still in Abraham's loins), is a symbol of how the Melchizedekian order is superior to the Levitical order. Paul's theological point is that the new order that Christ brought (Christ being a Melchizedekian priest, Psalms 110:4), is superior to the Levitical order that Moses established. At the Last Supper, Christ clearly refereed to this superiority when He spoke of the old and the new covenants or testaments. (Matthew 26:28).

Lewis's point in including this back-story with Aslan is twofold. The first is to tell a good story to the best of his ability. Second, he is indirectly preparing the minds of Children to understand the Atonement of Jesus Christ, the central point of Doctrine of Christianity. By removing the interplay between the two spells, or the two laws that govern Narnia, Disney is in fact, diluting Lewis's central message. It was disappointing to hear in the movie the stunted conversation between Aslan and the Witch. As the movie stands, there is no depth to the conflict between the Witch and Aslan. It is a mere territorial squabble, and not a cosmic battle. Lewis observed that "There is no neutral ground in the universe: every square inch, every split second, is claimed by God and counterclaimed by Satan." (Christen Reflections, "Christianity and Culture"). As Disney presents the film, we only see through glass darkly. The parley between the Witch and Aslan is much, much more-it is metaphorical of the conflict between God and Satan, as depicted in Job 1-2.

Furthermore, by removing the governing spells, or law of Narnia, we lose the ability to have Aslan's Atonement be an act of mercy. Thomas Aquinas observed "The act of liberality needs to be founded on an act of justice." (Summa Theologica, I-II. 66. 4). There can be no mercy because there is no justice. As the movie stands, we loose the depth of Christ/Aslan dying to fulfill a law. It is there, but it is clipped and muddled.

By declawing the divine law or spell, we are left with schmaltzy antinomian claptrap. That is why the breaking of the Stone Table seems out of place in the film-there is no build-up to the cosmic drama. In the deleted speech form the Witch, she explains that the governing incantation was graven on the stone. When Aslan fulfilled the terms of the law, the stone broke. Lewis alludes to three biblical passages:

  1. The rending of the temple veil at Christ's death (Matthew 27:51)
  2. "Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." (2 Corinthians 3:3)
  3. "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross." (Colossians 2:14)

All of this is symbolized by the breaking of the Stone Table, which itself is symbolic of the breaking of the shallow spell or the Law of Moses.

The movie's defanged version has Aslan taking about a misread spell, and the power of sacrifice. Although culturally this is a thousand times better than all reality shows combined, it looses depth and power, and is a betrayal of Lewis's philosophy. Lewis would understand this "Deeper Magic" as Traditional Morality, and Disney's version, being a glossing over of Morality, glosses over the Author's core belief. It is a watering-down of Traditional Morality, and if persisted in, will lead to the end of our species and the damnation of our souls. This was the basis of his philosophy, and the point of his life's work. He would have been ashamed.

Disney's film version is, for the most part, true to the book. However in these three key areas-logic, sex roles, and the binding laws of Narnia-Lewis's stated philosophy was castrated.

So is this movie useless? On one hand, Neal A. Maxwell, who is a Lewis aficionado in his own right, stated "Diluted Christianity is not Christianity, it is a feeble attempt to have Christianity without Christ, for it denies the central service of Jesus' life-the Atonement. Those who call themselves Christians but deny the divinity of Jesus cannot seem to tolerate those of us who accept and proclaim the divinity of Christ." (Neal A. Maxwell Quote Book, 23). This is the point: by tweaking these three parts of the story, we have lost key elements of Lewis's personal belief. It is a Disney-ized version of the Oxford don. You could forgive the smudging of the Professor's speech on logic, but Lewis definitely would have opposed the arming of the female children, and the bungling of the power of the two spells. As a Christian, I wept.

On the other hand, G. K Chesterton observed, "Christianity even when watered down is hot enough to boil all modern society to rags. The mere minimum of the Church would be a deadly ultimatum to the world." (Orthodoxy, Chapter 7). Like Kierkegaard and Tolkien, Lewis has successfully smuggled Christianity into mainstream America. I think, when all is said and done, this movie will be beneficial. For Harry Potter, the books and the movies have been interactive-for example, after the movies, the cover art began to resemble Daniel Radcliff. Similarly I see a beneficial interaction between the Narnia films and Lewis's heptalogy. If the movie is not up to snuff, at least it is can serve as a commercial for the books which have Lewis's Lion unchained-fangs and all.

Copyright © 2006 by Kendal Brian Hunter

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