The Christian Chronicles of Narnia?

News & Politics

First, a confession: I've never read C. S. Lewis or seen a preview of this movie. So I have no way to weigh in on this debate, but perhaps some of my readers will care to dive in. On one side is author Phillip Pullman:

Pullman is the author of His Dark Materials, a three-volume children's book series that has won popular and critical acclaim rivaling that of the half-century-old, seven-book The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, of which The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the first volume. In articles, interviews, and speeches, Pullman has described The Chronicles not just as "propaganda in the cause of the religion [Lewis] believed in," but also as guilty of advancing views such as, "Death is better than life; boys are better than girls; light-colored people are better than dark-colored people; and so on." And those are just Pullman's G-rated charges. He also has blasted The Chronicles in public forums as "one of the most ugly and poisonous things I've ever read," "propaganda in the service of a life-hating ideology," "blatantly racist," "monumentally disparaging of girls and women," and marked by a "sadomasochistic relish for violence."[The Chronicle Review via Arts & Letters]
Sounds awful, but the evidence against Pullman's thesis presented by Professor Michael Nelson sounds just as persuasive. He points out that some of the most positive characters in Lewis are female; that Lewis' inclusion of "fauns, naiads, centaurs, satyrs, and the wine god Bacchus from the Greek and Roman myths; giants and dwarfs from Norse mythology; and even Father Christmas from Christian folklore" reflects a message of inter-racial tolerance; and that his books read as an argument in favor of immortality rather than violence.

To be fair, here's an interview with Pullman where he explains his opposition to Narnia and C. S. Lewis in his own words.

So where does the truth lie in this debate? It is clear that C. S. Lewis did have a Christian worldview -- which is why evangelicals are delighted with the movie. But that in itself doesn't make his work sinister. The question is whether or not his books are also deeply anti-human.

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