We all read the books as kids. Now they're back! But before Evangelicals enlist the Chronicles as weapons in their agenda, they should consider a few things.
Christains are already hyping these books and the new film as a kind of religious tract they can use to lead people to Chist or as tools to teach children about Christianity.
The Narnia books are a big problem though. Because in reality they're not very useful in leading people to Christ. And, in fact, they are more helpful at leading Christain kids to question the Born-Again dogma.
Yes, stay tuned, Christian parents, the Narnia series is a Gateway Drug and below I'll list several reasons why..
Gateway Drug is a term used to refer to the theoretical idea that softer or non-addictive drugs can lead users to experiment and eventually become addicted to harder and more addicitive drugs.
Born Again Christains parents beware! Here are five reasons to consider before you endorse the Narnia series to your child:
1. The Chronicles of Narnia are, so to speak, like pot to Christian kids. Like pot in the so-called gateway-drug sense that it can lead them on to bigger and more powerful "drugs". After Narnia... Middle Earth. Ater that who knows? They may start reading actual mythology and folk tales. Then they may dabble in Joseph Campbell or even move on to Carl Jung. It's all down hill from there.
They may end up working at 7-11 with a degree in philosophy or comparitive religions, or they could even become Wiccans. But mainly stop them from reading the Chronicles before it's too late or they could suffer the worse fate of all... playing Dungeons and Dragons while eating packs of Oreo cookies (with double stuff) and drinking Coke right out of the two-liter in the kitchen of their friend's trailer home until 4 AM. You'll pick them up for church the next morning only to find their high-fructose hangover has left them unable to even remember your names.
2. Narnia without the Jesus allegory component is not much different from LOTR or Harry Potter or Dungeons & Dragons or even the Smurfs for that matter (Christian parents know what dangers lurk in the Smurfs. That show is well known as a Trojan horse for the occult!) That's right, without the Aslan crucifixion, the series is basically a collection of pagan and occult stories about Witches, magic, fauns, dragons, centaurs, spells, Marshwiggles, Dufflepuds... must I go on?
3. It is the Christian "allegory" component itself in Narnia that can weaken Christain belief. As a story of redemption, sacrifice and forgiveness, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe stands fine on is own. But when parents and Christian teachers point out to kids that this story is actually a stand-in, an "allegory" refering back to a similiar story in the Bible, that's when kids get confused.
Why not just accept Aslan as your personal savior? Kids think this way. How many kids out there even now sometimes pray to Aslan (How many already pray to santa Claus?)? Of course Christain parents will say, it's just a made up story. Aslan's not real. that's why we don't pray to Aslan. How much of a jump is it then for kids to start questioning whether or not the Bible is just a made up story? Both are books of fantasy and magic (characters rising from the dead, etc.). Why is one true and another an "aggle-ory"? Too late. The seeds of doubt have already been planted.
4. Beware, the cosmology of Narnia. The Magician's Nephew, a prequel to the other books, outlines the metaphysical nuts and bolts of Lewis' fantasy universe in which "Narnia" is just one of infinite worlds. These worlds are all accessable through the "woods between the worlds" in which one can jump into a pond wearing an appropriate magic ring and emerge in a completely different "world".
In the story the child characters jump into the "world pool" of Narnia and witness it's creation. Aslan creates Narnia from a dark void in the space of a few minutes through his magnificent singing. In any one of these separate worlds, Aslan is the creator, yet he employs various creation methods and manifests himself in different god-forms using different names.
This is quite a varied and complex cosmologcal system. Christian children will be both confused and fascinated by this concept which is far more complex than the cosmology of Christianity. In fact, when discussing this book with children there will be no way to refute the existance of Lewis' vision of infinite worlds. Children will put two and two together. If the writers of the Bible had a vision of the creation in Genesis (but were not there to actually witness it), they why couldn't C.S. Lewis have a vision of Narnia and the "woods between the worlds"?
These alternative creation concepts and alternative manifestations of a creator god can weaken and destroy any dogma of Christian absolutism in a child and give rise to tolerance and curiosity for other religions and other world views. Not good if you believe that Jesus is the only way to the Father.
5. Aslan as a "fictional" god concept invites probing questions and criticism. Children will notice that Aslan, the all-powerful, all knowing creator often fails to consult his omnicience or use his omnipotence. In many instances, children readers may notice that Aslan often blames others, usually the powerless child characters, for that which he in his priveleged position should take responsibility.
The Magician's Nephew offers a prime example. Aslan is angry with and blames Digory and Poly for bringing the "Deplorable Word" into Narnia (the Deplorable Word is a super-magic word, which, when uttered, can destroy an entire world). Children readers may wonder who made up the "Deplorable Word" in the forst place? OR who indeed created a world in which there could be a "Deplorable Word" in the first place? they may see the responsibility falling on Aslan.
The fantasy setting of the fictional world of Narnia allows children to ask questions and probe deeper than they may feel allowed to with thier Christian faith. They may wonder, for instance, why Alsan allows these witches to exist at all or at least why he didn't kill them when they started causing trouble. Children will be locked in the metaphysical moral conundrum wondering why Aslan, who is totally good, is at least complicit in all the evil and misery caused by the witch because of his inaction. At worse he is just as guilty or perhaps a kind of co-conspirator. Does Aslan have a hidden agenda? Does he enjoy all of this? Aslan will end up being a disturbing figure to many children. And this disturbance can easily carry over into the Sunday school classroom.
Christian parents beware the Chronicles of Narnia.