Ed Driscoll

Nattering Nabobs of Narnia Negativity

This sneering attack on The Chronicles of Narnia by Polly Toynbee in England’s Guardian has gotten fairly wide play in the Blogosphere, so I’ll only quote from a short segment of it, but by all means read the rest, to see the very definition of the left’s tolerance for diversity in full bloom:

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion’s breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

* * *

Because here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America – that warped, distorted neo-fascist strain that thinks might is proof of right. I once heard the famous preacher Norman Vincent Peale in New York expound a sermon that reassured his wealthy congregation that they were made rich by God because they deserved it. The godly will reap earthly reward because God is on the side of the strong. This appears to be CS Lewis’s view, too. In the battle at the end of the film, visually a great epic treat, the child crusaders are crowned kings and queens for no particular reason. Intellectually, the poor do not inherit Lewis’s earth.

Does any of this matter? Not really. Most children will never notice. But adults who wince at the worst elements of Christian belief may need a sickbag handy for the most religiose scenes. The Guardian film critic Peter Bradshaw gives the film five stars and says, “There is no need for anyone to get into a PC huff about its Christian allegory.” Well, here’s my huff.

You can say that again, sister.

Meanwhile, Cathy Seipp looks at Narnia naysayers on the right:

Recently, I was wondering what the religious fanatics who dislike the “evil” magic in the Harry Potter books think of Lewis, considering that Narnia also features magic, even though it is clearly Christian. So a reader pointed me to an astonishing website run by a Tennessee piano tuner named Steve Van Natten and his daughter, Mary.

Unlike typical anti-Harry Potter fundamentalists, who often haven’t even read the books that so infuriate them, the Van Nattens have studied Lewis very, very closely, and their site is loaded with citations and footnotes. They think, among other things, that Lewis was actually a pagan sun god worshipper and occultist, not a Christian, although they suspect that the famous Anglican was also a secret Catholic, which in their view is just as bad as being a pagan. I’ve never been able to understand that whole anti-Catholic thing