Sujet: Narnia Roars!
De: tothesource
Date: 16 Dec 2005 00:22:07 -0800

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December 15, 2005  

Dear Concerned Citizen,

by Julia Thompson
Roving tothesource Junior Reporter

I will never forget the day that I was introduced to the Chronicles of Narnia.
I was a nine year old girl, at an afternoon party on the day of my baptism. There was a big package sitting on the table, wrapped up with a bow. Tearing the paper away I saw a box containing seven hard-cover books.

Naturally a set of books isn't the most exciting thing to a child, but I remember opening the cover of the first book and seeing a name plate with the picture of a great golden lion on it. Little did I know of the adventures in store for me.

I have loved the Chronicles of Narnia since my dad first read them aloud to me by the fire. What makes them so special, though, is the wisdom and comfort they have brought me with each additional reading as I have grown up. They even served as my chief comfort one lonely spring break as I huddled in chilly Boston, exhausted and overwhelmed in a deserted and grimy dorm room. The stories have become ever deeper to me as I have become an adult, and delight me just as they did when I was nine.

So it didn't surprise me to see the box office tallies from this weekend. In the middle of December 2005, when people are afraid to say "Merry Christmas" because it isn't politically correct, Hollywood has given people a chance to show in cold hard cash, what they are hungry for. This past weekend, Americans paid over 67 million dollars to see the well worn and loved tale of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Lewis' story, the first of the seven-book Chronicles of Narnia series, debuted this weekend as the second-highest December opening ever! It trails only the final film in Peter Jackson's three part adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkein's Lord of the Rings.

The Lord of the Rings three billion dollar success story was especially difficult for Disney to digest. The mouse house had turned down Rings when Jackson presented it to them years ago. Regaining their marketing equilibrium became even more difficult when Gibson's The Passion of the Christ skyrocketed to become one of the highest grossing films (independent at that) of all time. So after Paramount let its option on Narnia lapse, Disney teamed up with Walden Media to make Narnia. It seems fortunate that Paramount let the project go since it was planning an updated Narnia set in modern Los Angeles where the children were staying with the Professor in order to avoid an earthquake. The White Witch tempts Edmund not with "Turkish Delight" but with "Cheeseburger and Fries"! Heaven forbid!

Narnia's week end gross proves again that well done family movies can be good for both moral and financial health. Disney execs have all but forgotten last quarter's disappointing loss.

At first glance it makes all the sense in the world that the first Narnia movie should be a smash hit. It is a charming story of four children, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter Pevensie, escaping the grey backdrop of World War II England to a land full of adventure, wonderful and strange creatures, and magic. Even outside Narnia the crusty old professor that the children are sent to stay with has a twinkle of whimsy about him as he channels Lewis' own character.

As the story of Narnia unfolds, the children come face to face with troubles in the magical land, as well as their own inclinations that can play into the hands of the evil and alluring White Witch. The children must face danger and uncertainty, assured only by the fact that they are working on the side of Aslan the lion, the rightful king of Narnia.

The story builds to a climax as Edmund succumbs to the temptation of personal glory and falls prey to the White Witch, betraying his family and the other Narnians. In order to redeem Edmund and save Narnia, Aslan offers himself as a sacrifice, and is bound, humiliated and killed. Aslan appears grand and believable, exuding power and warmth through state of the art graphics and a masterful performance by Liam Neeson. After Susan and Lucy mourn over his body, draped limp over the stone table beneath a suddenly gray Narnia sky, the stone that he lays upon cracks, his body disappears, and he returns with glory, having defeated death itself, to save and free Narnia.

Lewis' image of redemption flows powerfully through the movie as Narnia undergoes a transformation from a white, icy place where it is "always winter and never Christmas" to a lush, blooming, chirping wonderland before the children's eyes. Hope becomes palpable as great lakes and rivers of ice melt, and surging water and brilliant flowers burst onto the screen.

Aslan's resurrection and the children's new found virtues of valiance, justice, gentleness and magnificence are just a few of the ingredients of Narnia that start to make some reviewers defensive. In the face of the movie's success, arguments are flying about that it is just inappropriate to acknowledge and consider the sacred themes that permeate the battles and triumphs of Aslan and the Narnians. Some articles claim that we should stick to the surface of the story and ignore the possibility that the Pevensie children's trials and accomplishments in Narnia represent great, universal human struggles and experiences.

One New York Times reviewer argues, "If everyone stays on his own level – the surface for adventurers, and the depths for believers – we can all enjoy, so long as the advertisers stay out of the way." What the review seems to miss is the fact that Lewis' story need not be picked apart or broken down into allegorical parallels or symbols in order to convey depth and meaning to its audience. The tale has depth and richness organically that shines through unless it is intentionally blocked out.

Perhaps it would be worthwhile for those trying to hold onto the "surface level story" while discarding the "icky religious" part to step back for a moment and honestly consider what makes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe a story so powerful. Why is it that it continues to hold fascination for adults and children alike on the big screen in 2005, just as it has for the last half century even as many children's stories have passed in and out of people's hearts and imaginations?

Maybe The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe has such power to charm and inspire because its characters, conflicts and king are not random fabrications, but uncanny windows into life—in Narnia, Word War II and 2005 alike. Tucked snugly into the Pevensies' adventures in delightful Narnia is the story of sin, resurrection and redemption—the story of Easter—the story of Christmas. Just maybe we are flocking to the movies because C.S. Lewis paints not only a world we can escape to, but an incisive piece of truth that is more real than gas prices, the stock market and the rush of Christmas shopping—more real than 67 million dollars.

Perhaps it rings true because it is true.

rate it

Responses to Remade in Our Image:

Why is it always the "little" people that tend to fight the hardest? Is it because they are more aware of the blessings they have? Is it because the mere smallness of them gives them more strength? The old adage, "remember me when you become famous" really hits home here because these mega churchs would not even think of closing in their earlier pioneer days! They were there to lead the pack, set the example and mark their territory in the hearts of local Christians. Why is it that as we become bigger we become less dependent on the very source that sparked the initial flame? Willow Creek Community Church is hallowed for it's standing in the local Chicago community. I have personally attended some of their many conferences. I would think they would be the last people to contribute to Society's current attitude of "self accommodation". Contrary to popular opinion, both secular and Christian, Christmas is not about family, it's about Jesus Christ! And I for one look forward to the times when Christmas falls on a Sunday because then I can truly celebrate the true Spirit of Christmas in the House of God! Willow Creek, now is not the time to surrender to those that only "think" that having services on Christmas would be any kind of stress or hardship or "inconvenience". This is the time to reach out to those that need to walk through those doors on Chrismas Day if for only to be reminded of the best gift ever given. - T. D.

Dear Editor, I am an American citizen who happens to be a Christian. What I have witnessed these past few years is unbelievable. The attack of a few atheist and ungodly people against manger scenes against the 10 commandments, against any resemblance of God is utterly ridiculous and is against the moral fiber of this nation that was founded on these godly principles. This "I am offended" bologna has got to go! I want to say to them just get over it or move to another country that hates God. You don't see Israel banning anything to do with the Jews. Or India the Hindu's. Only in America can the tail wag the dog. The courts have got the nation so confused on these matters. If we could only go back just a few years ago and ask Thomas Jefferson or James Madison about these things they would think it unthinkable to remove God from American culture. I noticed that America is said to be 84% Christian. You would think it was 84% infidel the way the courts are ruling. The C hristians are replacing the American Indian as the most discriminated against people in our nation. May God have mercy on American for her many backslidings. Merry Christmas to all! C. J.

There is a problem in Christmas that no one seems to be talking about. There are Christians who not only do not accept Christmas as the birth dates of Jesus, but actively refuse to worship him in a special manner on that day. I am one of them. Surely, you know of the repeated admonitions to have no special days. Christmas, when celebrated as the Lord's birth becomes such a day. Add to that the fact that there is no proscription for the celebration of Christmas in Scripture and it becomes abundantly clear that it is not God's intention. If, on top of that, we require some sort of Christmas worship to be part of the "orthodoxy" and we have crossed the line into Pharisaical heresy. Whether or not you worship the Lord on Christmas is between you and God, but when you claim orthodoxy in doing so, we must part company. I cannot do so and remain in fellowship with God and I must do so in order to remain in fellowship with you. My choice is clear. It is precisely such matters - irrelevant in the long run - which have allowed Christendom to ignore such matters as agreement on what the Scripture says about getting in Christ (which I would think you might agree is foundational.) I would, however, be happy to explain the actual Biblical position on Christmas to any who are willing to learn what the Bible says instead of what man teaches. - A. J. K.

Great article on Religious Freedom! - M. J. M.

If you want to be free, just BE FREE. Quit whining about what the ACLU wants or what some school district wants or what somebody wrote to somebody else about their lawn ornaments. Religion is not about lawn ornaments or about vacations or singing carols. It's about one's relationship with God. Nobody has anything to do with that except you and God. You practice your religion and you take the consequences. That's the way it's always been, especially for Christians. Read Matthew 16:24. - J. L.

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