Saturday, December 04, 2010

Feeling Our Way Through Narnia

This headline caught my eye this morning. Like a lot of people I am looking forward to the latest Narnia movie and hoping it will be good. But leave it to an actor to be a fly in the soup. The headline reads:

Narnia fans' fury after Liam Neeson claims Aslan - the symbol of Christ - could also be Mohammed

The article is quite clear that Aslan is an obvious and deliberate symbol of Christ. But Neeson has different personal feelings about the matter.

Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.’

What fascinates me is how something so obviously Christian and Christological can be said by anyone familiar with the books to also symbolize Islam, Buddhism, and the catch-all goodness of modern secularism, child mentoring. Well, here’s how.

In a world rife with political correctness – the feeling that the worst moral offense possible is a judgment of anything – we now live according to our feelings. Notice how (and he is certainly not alone) Neeson has a personal feeling about the symbolism of Aslan. And his personal feeling trumps all facts and reality, well, because he exemplifies a moral world where facts and reality are secondary to personal feelings about things. We are becoming people with oatmeal for brains.

There are too many contradictions in Neeson’s feelings to spend time on. But again, that doesn’t bother the politically correct feeler. After all, things like contradictions in fact are of lesser importance than one’s personal take on a matter.

This is no simplistic or frustrated attack on “political correctness” or our vague postmodern world. This is serious stuff and Neeson’s feeling about Aslan is just a harmless example of a vicious cancer on the modern human mind and soul.

Why are people – more and more of them – run by their personal feelings on things in the light of direct contradiction of fact and reality? We have traded the exercise of thinking about truth for feeling about self.


Daria said...

How sad, sad to have someone be touching the greatest story ever told (the Redemption), the most important fact in the history of the universe (as Chambers says) and completely miss it! : (

Oatmeal brains...nice. ;-) Except, oatmeal keeps expanding. ;-) Perhaps more just gruel-brains? heh

Quintessential said...

Neeson knows better. He played in the old Pilgrim's Progress as well as Les Miserables. According to Wikipedia, he was known to sneak into services held by none other than the fire and brimstone preacher, Ian Paisley.

May God give the Christian actors in Hollywood the courage to stand up for the truth, even when it is upopular. I'm not assuming that Neeson is a Christian, but it goes without saying.

Ritchie said...

Please. It's a story - a work of fiction - a piece of art. People draw their own individual interpretations from art all the time. In fact it can be argued that that is the point of art.
The question is, why do you take offence at someone drawing a different interpretation to yours?

Phil Steiger said...

Though it can be argued that people may interpret art differently, that has no bearing on whether they are right about it. Granted that there are plenty of pieces of art where a meaning may be fuzzy, hard to find, or deliberately obscured.

But I believe this entirely subjective take on art demeans the form. If you take it seriously, you ought to take it seriously.

And here we have one that is as clear as day: the author says it is Christ, all serious interpreters of it recognize Aslan as Christ, no other major religious figure fits the mold of Aslan (think of the rsurrection scene).

So it matters because a non-Christological interpretation of Aslan is flat wrong, misses the point of the whole thing, and demeans the art form.

Ritchie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ritchie said...

I'd be more inclined to agree if Liam Neeson compared Aslan to Britney Spears, or Alfred Hitchcock, or someone totally obscure. But Mohammed? This Christ-like mold that Aslan fits is merely that of a pretty generic wise, resurrected, Messianic/demigod-like figure. That's a relatively indistinct mold, bearing in mind there are dozens of such religious figures, such as the Egyptian god Osiris, to the Greek Dionysus, to the Babylonian Tammuz, and many more.
I don't doubt Jesus was the figure C.S.Lewis had in mind, given his religous views, but really the parellels between Aslan and Christ are not so absolute that any other interpretation is perverse.