Thursday, July 19, 2012

Lord Of The Rings And Narnia... My Thoughts

Is it right for Christians to read/watch The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings books/movies?



The question of The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia is one that is quite largely discussed. Petie of Dirt and Dickens just posted her thoughts here, and that, coupled with numerous other posts I've read on many other blogs, has prompted me to write out my own thoughts. 



Lucy at the lamppost
Please understand that what I'm writing here is not meant to refute your opinions and challenge and attack you. I whole heartedly respect your opinion (I realize that's between you, your parents, and the Lord), and I only ask that you read what I say with an open mind. Don't take my word as golden truth, though. I encourage you to study these topics on your own. Discuss them with your parents. 




And of course, I will NOT say that not reading/watching LOTR or Narnia doesn't make you a Christian. That's just plain, old hogwash, and I don't give any credit to the idea. 

Aragorn, Legolas, and Gandalf
And please note that I am NOT one of those fangirls who idolizes characters and swoons every time the name of Aragorn, Legolas, Peter, or Edmund is mentioned. I enjoy their characters in the story, and when it comes to the actors, I don't care tuppence about them. The characters each have their own faults and virtues and are awesome in their own rights, but the only man who will be awesome and swoon worthy in my life shall be my husband. Enough said.

Now that all of that's out of the way, let's continue...

1. Magic

This topic is large in it of itself that I am forced to extract my comments here and address them in a later post. I am currently submerged up to my eyeballs in study, so please, please understand that I WILL write about the magic issue, but it will have to wait for a later post.

2. Paganism

The centaur, Oreius
People have often pointed to the centaurs in Narnia, saying, "Look! These are Greek gods! That's paganism! Narnia's evil!" Before you violently throw your copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe across the room, kindly allow me to say a little something on this subject.


Yes, Narnia does include mythical creatures such as centaurs, satyrs, and fauns. And yes, they are said to have a basis in Greek and Roman mythology. While the existence of such creatures is highly doubtful, I won't put God in a box and say that it was impossible for him to make them. He is the almighty God, the awesome Creator of the universe. Actually, the Bible does make mention to some creatures, namely the satyr (Is. 13:21 & 34:14) and the unicorn (Num. 23:22 & 24:8, Deut. 33:17, and more). It may just be that they are referenced to in a figurative light for a comparison, OR did God really create them? It's something to think about. He created dinosaurs, another type of creature we don't see nowadays. And the Old Testament was written far before Greek and Roman culture named those creatures as part of their mythology. In Narnia, these creatures (fauns, satyrs, centaurs, etc.) are not depicted as gods, but rather mortal beings living normal lives. Nor do they possess any powers of the supernatural nature.

3. Christ Figures

Now what of the Christ figures? It is vastly important that we don't set up something other than the Lord Jesus as first and foremost in our lives. There is a slight opinion going around that Tolkien meant for Aragorn to be a Christ figure, but I quench that rumor. Aragorn is a king, and that is basically the only connection to Christ. Reading and studying it, I can see no possible way that Aragorn could be set up as a god figure. Gandalf, also, is not set up as a Christ figure, but resembles a figure more of that like an angel. Indeed, Tolkien himself compared Gandalf to an angel. So this issue comes mainly down to Narnia. 


Aslan
Aslan is a god figure, in a sense, and he represents the idea of monotheism (belief in one god). Jesus is called the Lamb of God and the Lion of Judah, and I'm certain that the latter was where C. S. Lewis pulled the idea for Aslan. Lewis also expressly wrote Narnia for the purpose of an allegory. Aslan was supposed to be a Christ like figure. Not Christ Himself, but merely a figure. Please also take into account, Jesus likened Himself unto Jonah (Matt. 12:40). Does that mean Jonah was a god? Jonah? The rebellious runaway? I highly doubt that. And what of the brass serpent in the wilderness (Num 21:9)? God commanded Moses to make that and hang it where all Israel could see it. It was a picture of their suffering and of His mercy. God used many pictures throughout the Bible. Therefore, using a picture is not bad, just as long as we don't worship the picture. 


4. Violence

Another big argument that many people level against mainly LOTR is the darkness of the story and all the violence. “Chirstians shouldn't read about all that fighting and evilness!” I agree that we shouldn't dwell on that which is evil, but darkness is in the world whether we like it or not. Consider this: The last book in the Bible, Revelation, is quite dark and violent. Does that mean we're not to read that book of the Bible? No. It is a picture of the end times. When the world ends, it will be dark and violent, that's what God says, and that's what the world will come to, whether we like it or not. LOTR is, in a sense, an allegorical picture of the end times. Good vs. evil, and good prevails in the end.


Orcs marching to Helm's Deep
Other Thoughts...

You may not enjoy fantasy, and that's why you stay away from LOTR and Narnia. That's okay. That's your preference, and I respect that. Fantasy is a genre that you must learn to like, just as people learn to like romance and adventure and whatever other genres are out there.

Edmund battling Telmarines

I do want to say this: LOTR and Narnia have not, in my life, replaced my Bible. I spend time every morning in the Word of God, and am doing my best to meditate on it day and night. And no, no, no, it is never right to read Narnia and LOTR, in fact ANY book, to treasure it above the Word of God. Our own enjoyment of these stories should never take precedence above the time spent with the Lord Jesus Christ.


So, what think ye of this question? Is there another point that should be mentioned and I have missed talking of? I listed several Bible verses in my post here, and I would encourage you to look them up. Please comment and let me know!


And yes! I will be posting (hopefully) soon a large post on the issue of magic! Please, please keep a watch out for it!

Thanks for reading!



16 comments:

  1. Very thought provoking post! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. :) And I agree about Aslan, that's the whole point of an allegory isn't it?

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    1. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  2. Oooh, really good post! I read Petie's post...and why I don't agree with all of it...she made some really good points.
    I totally agree with you about the allegory/god figure. Everyone knows that God is not a physical lion...but the picture and allegory is so similar. In fact, allegories that use god figures can often spark people's interest to read the Bible and get to know more about Christ. By no means should we worship god figures....(may it NEVER be), I don't particularly see any harm. I agree with you...just as long as we don't worship the picture.
    Excellent post...I'm really curious to know what you found on magic. I've been going through the Bible and studying what it has to say about that as well. A similar situation about this topic has come up. Looking forward to reading your post!

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    1. Thanks for reading! It was encouraging to read your comment!! My post about the magic might not be up for a week or so, but I promise it's coming! :)

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  3. Great post, Kiri Liz! Although you didn't sway me in my opinion any. =) But I totally respect your opinions. And I am very much interested in reading your thoughts on the magic. The magic is really my biggest and main problem with both Narnia and LOTR (and by the way, I've never thought that there was a Christ figure in LOTR, but I do know some people who think that...).

    I do see your point about the mythological creatures, but quite honestly, the centaurs especially really disturb me. Half human, half horse? Sorry, I don't think there's any way God would have taken something He made specially in his image and turn it into some mythological, hybrid creature.

    Something I thought of... yes, Jesus is compared to a lion, but so is Satan (he roams about like a lion, seeking whom he may devour). I'm not saying Aslan is supposed to be Satan (whoa... talk about dangerous territory! :P ), but we just have to remember what the Bible says about Satan masquerading as an angel of light.

    Really enjoyed reading your thoughts, and I want to read more. =)

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    1. Thanks for reading, Petie! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I really wasn't trying to sway opinion, just answer questions. :)

      Yes, it is interesting to think about half human, half animal creatures, and I'd have to say, for the most part, their existence is doubtful. Why *would* God make something like that? I don't understand it (His thoughts are above my thoughts, and His ways are above my ways), but I only wanted to point out that I don't doubt that God had the power to create them.

      I'm working on the magic post, and there's a whole lot more to it than most people normally think. I can't promise I'll be done soon, but I'm doing my best to put dedicated study to it. :)

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  4. Wonderful post! I agree with you about the allegory of Narnia/the Aslan God figure. You also raised a good point that I forget to mention sometimes: the mortality of the mythological creatures. They are not gods or seen as such, simply other creatures in the world of Narnia.

    I cannot wait to see your post on magic, I also have been doing some studying and forming my reply to Petie's thoughts on the matter.

    ~Kristin

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    1. Thanks for reading, Kristin! Your comment was encouraging! I'll be looking for your own post on the subject! :)

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  5. I agree with your post. I know some people who avoid both these stories, and I don't wish to disagree with them. It is a matter of conviction, I think, and everyone has different convictions. But as for me, I enjoy these stories. I like, mostly, how they show good vs. evil. And in Narnia, how the kids learned from their mistakes. They weren't perfect, but they did what was right, even when hard.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement, Miss Jack! I greatly appreciate your comment! :)

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  6. i agree with you wholeheartedly. i don't think its wrong to read and watch these movies or read the books as long as you treasure the Bible more than them and don't spend ALL YOUR TIME on them. but it is a matter of conviction. it doesn't make you a Christian if you watch LOTR. i despise people who tell me that!

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    1. Thanks for commenting, Lydia! It is important, very important that we keep Christ as the focus of our lives! :)

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  7. Actually, C.S. Lewis did not write LWW or any of the Narnia books as allegories, but supposals. He even pointed that out himself. In summery, he said what if a world where animals and mythical creatures were the inhabitants, newly created, had evil enter into it when it was still young, like our world? How would Christ come to that world, and what would His passion be?
    Also, Aslan does give some people spiritual gifts, just like God gives to people in our world. For example, Glenstorm was given the gift of prophecy. But it is clearly shown that those with such things are given those gifts by Aslan. Anyone in the Narnia books who uses any sort of supernatural power without it being a gift from (or without permission from) Aslan is a bad guy.

    I have always considered LWW as an influence to my coming to Christ. When I was five years old, I saw the 1979 animated version at church, and that same year I got saved. I really think God used it to help me understand the Gospel and lead to Christ. Aslan should never replace Christ, but, as Lewis also said, if the idea of Aslan helps us learn to love Christ even more, there's nothing wrong with that. :-)

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  8. I agree with most of what you said. I doubt that God would have created Centaurs and here is why. God created man in his own image, man was incredibly special. Man was the only creature made in the image of God. God's image in man is not how man looks, but rather what is in man, the soul. Unlike animals man has a knowledge of good and evil. Also man is the only creature with the ability to create a culture, religion, language, entertainment. God also does things orderly. 1 Cor. 14:40 God would not have told Paul to command the Corinthian church to be decent and orderly if that was not a reflection of Himself. Based on those I think it would have been against the character of God for Him to create Centaurs. The Unicorn, the biblical unicorn is not a description of a skinny white horse with a horn, but rather a strong creature that cannot be controlled. My argument against centaurs also works for Satyrs.

    With that being said, do I think pagan elements in a book make it evil? No. If I believed that I would be against having a Christmas tree (which I love setting up every year.) In a fictional work you can have fictional elements, the animals are talking....obviously fiction, so I am not bothered by including fictional mythical creatures. What are your thoughts?

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    1. Thank you for commenting, Jeremiah! I agree with you as well. Strictly speaking, it's unlikely that centaurs, unicorns, etc. ever existed. God did create man in His own image, and man is different than every other part of creation.

      I am not bothered with talking animals and mythological creatures in fiction. Truly, Narnia is one of my all-time favorite series, and I'm a huge fan of C.S. Lewis's work. I, too, love celebrating Christmas and putting up Christmas trees, so I understand where you're coming from on that. However, I would be careful in stating that every pagan element in fiction is fine. For me, some writers have used elements like that to twist and otherwise demoralize their tales and I wouldn't want to read those books. The questions are: What are the elements? Why are they included? And how does God view them?

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    2. I am not bothered by talking animals either, I think it is great! It could bring in the whole discussion about whether or not animals talked before the fall, but that is an unlearned question so let's avoid that. The authors purpose in the elements of paganism I agree is one of the main concerns. Paul uses paganism ideas to witness to the Greeks in Athens. So like you said, if the pagan elements are inappropriate in God's eyes, then they should be in our eyes as well. But I think C.S. Lewis uses the elements appropriately. I enjoy Lewis' writings also.

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