December 9, 2005

Aslan died for somebody's sins, but not mine

What a surprise! The liberal media loves The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. The sarcasm, for those of you who don't follow the conservative media organs (especially the conservative Christian ones) is necessary because for nearly a year now the religious right has been predicting (hoping for, in a way) outrage among the secular elite at the possibility of Christian allegory being marketed to America's children. Such a response never seemed remotely possible to me, if only because it was pretty clear that everyone, devout or not, loves the Narnia books, so why wouldn't they love the movie too? But conservative evangelicals have utterly convinced themselves that the rest of us mock Left Behind and cringe at The Passion of the Christ not because of their own faults but because we hate Christianity. These people really thought that liberals (as if liberals were setting the moral agenda in this country anyway) would not possibly embrace a Christian story because we are on a mission to destroy Christianity.

There was never any evidence for this. A recent cover story in the National Review attempted to find some in a claim (unsupported) that early notes on a Narnia script asked if Aslan had to die. Even if true this hardly means such a note was likely to be accepted, or reflected more than one dumb exec's opinion. Besides it probably had less to do with intentionally removing the Christian content than with attempting the ruin the movie in general (there is more concrete evidence that an early script transferred the opening scenes to modern day Los Angeles and replaced Turkish delight with hot dogs).

I don't need to go into all the reasons non-Christians can love Narnia -- you can find them cited in various essays published over the last few days. But the crux of the religious right's confusion is that they don't understand that it's possible for people to encounter The Truth and respond, Well it's a great story even if it's not true (something I personally believe about Narnia and the Bible). They think the powerful truth of the gospel so overwhelming that our only response can be to believe it -- and that our choice then is either to embrace it or to fight against it because we are too consumed by our love of Turkish delight.

OK, this is not the most coherent post (trust me, the book will be much more carefully considered and argued) so I might as well go ahead and toss in another thing I've been thinking about regarding the trumped-up war against Christmas. Have John Gibson, Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh all gone deaf? (Oh wait, Limbaugh has). You can't step into a store these days-- or any public space -- without hearing Christmas songs blaring at top volume. Not holiday songs, but Christmas songs -- many with explicitly religious lyrics. I know this happens every year, but usually no one is telling us that Christmas has been banned from the public sphere so I never really thought about the fact that the radio -- mainstream, commercial American radio -- is playing nothing but songs with lyrics like, "remember Christ our savior was born on Christmas day." And if people complain, it's only because the music is such shmalzy crap, not because of the religious content.

In fact, this brings me to the flip side of the coin: why is Christian music effectively banned from the mainstream airwaves the rest of the year? I'm actually quite sympathetic to the argument of Christian music fans that mainstream radio shuns them because it's uncomfortable with Christian content. People unfamiliar with CCM will simply say that it doesn't get played because the music sucks. That's not an entirely unfair characterization -- but 90% of secular music that gets on the radio sucks too. Is it really fair that so much acceptably mediocre rock and pop is banned from the radio because the lyrics happen to be about God? Since when did songwriters have to follow rules about which topics they can mention if they want to get airplay? And if society is so comfortable with Christian music during the month of December, why do radio programmers think they'll revolt if they have to hear it the rest of the year too?

Posted by Daniel Radosh


I'm a left-wing atheist and almost all of my most beloved writers were Christian (they are also dead). Naturally including Lewis whose clear prose is always a joy.

Except for Narnia. I'd even rather read his commentary on the book of Psalms.

That Disney has been courting the fundagelicals does trouble me. I like my media conglomerates secular. I don't ask they produce anything I want to buy. Just don't aid the fundies.

I have this nightmare. Speilberg gets converted and makes this hugely successful movie of the gospel story. And millions of otherwise indifferent people become born again.

Brrr ...

The flaying is awesome. AWESOME.

Silly Christians. I'm perfectly willing to embrace their stories, as long as Heatmiser and Snowmiser are involved.

Funny how a religion built around a persecuted martyr has such a big persecution/martyr complex.

Christmas was never under attack. It's a straw man fallacy.
For O'Reilly and their ilk, bluster & something to bluster on about
equals higher ratings.

So why do you hate America, Daniel?

having a hard time believing that there's a substantial connection between those gaudy lotr/crusadesque trailers i've been seeing and lewis' books.

that said: if this goes over well, can we scrape up a supreme court nomination for puddleglum the marsh wiggle?

failing that: screwtape for VP in 2008.

Post a comment

Powered by
Movable Type 3.2