LET’S WORRY ABOUT THE CHRISTIANITY IN NARNIA

It would not be much of an exaggeration to say I passed my so-called tween years obsessed with Narnia. I can’t remember when I started reading the chronicles, but I can remember a time when I was either reading or rereading a Narnia book, or telling stories to myself which took place in Narnia, or translating Narnia books into farsi so my school friends could experience their pleasure – or that I was impatient to be doing one of these things.

I was quite shocked when as an adult, I picked up on the fact that Narnia was considered as a Christian allegory by most critics, and despised as such.

What? How come I never noticed?

I, who has spent my (apparently not-so)“formative” childhood years at a private religious (Christian) school in Britain! I, who would recite the Lord`s prayer before sleep every night! I, who would feel very uncomfortable whenever my ultra-modern uncle played the Chris de Burgh song about the devil and playing cards and selling souls in a railway station! I, who had been taught all about Jesus! Even today, my biblical knowledge -embarrassingly- far exceeds that of my friends who have been educated in Canadian state schools. How come I never realised Aslan was actually Jesus? And furthermore -a blow below the belt- my beloved books were considered sexist! Yes! The White Witch was a woman, Jadis was a woman, the Green Enchantress as well as the School Principal in The Silver Chair were women, Lucy’s brains were addled by too much Aslan (sex! sex! Lucy and Aslan rolling about on grassy hills! My childish self never realised what they were actually doing!), Susan was exiled, ergo, C.S. Lewis hated women. Oh- and he was racist too. Brown-skinned evil Calormenes, white-skinned good Narnians- Burn! Burn the books! Or better yet, turn them into Hollywood franchises where the high point of the story is the flirtation of Susan and Caspian to saccharine pop music. I do believe C.S. Lewis would have preferred the former fate.

A singularly unperceptive child. Or else the sweet Narnian air had so clouded my mind that I had never spotted what is now considered the obvious.

 Who cares if C.S. Lewis was religious, sexist, misogynist, racist, a child pornographer like Lewis Carroll (snicker, snicker), gay or a homophobe? What matters is that he wrote like an angel, and his stories transcend his (real or attributed) prejudices and pettiness of mind. His books failed to inspire me with religiosity, sexism, racism or the desire to have sex with talking lions. But they did leave a lasting longing for good stories, a free and happy life, and adventures in strange lands. And this is the best literature can do.

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3 comments

  1. thenewcomer

    For the record:
    My favourite book was not the best-known -The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe – which always seemed rather childish to me, but the oft-overlooked The Horse and His Boy. How much I longed for more stories where there were no silly children from our world to spoil the beauty of Narnia and its surrounding countries with their idiotic, banal chatter!

  2. Even better is the fact that Lewis was not misogynist, sexist, or racist in any way, nor does the scene with Lucy and Aslan playing innocently have anything to do with sex (what kind of perverted mind would suggest such a disgusting thing that so obviously has no place? Such a person’s sanity I would question). Were not the evil Telmarine leaders men, who were slain by the heroes or banished from Narnia by Aslan? Is not the evil demon Tashbaan referred to as male (The Horse and His Boy was also my childhood favorite!)? And indeed, does not Lewis make clear that the corruptness of the Caleromenes comes from the lies of Tashbaan, not the color of their skin?

    Anyway, that’s for those who accuse him. You’re right — Lewis’ writing is wonderful, and inspires people with the best things!

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