‘Narnia represents everything that is most hateful about religion’

This is the title of a movie review written by British film critic, Poly Toynbee of CS Lewis’ masterpiece turned Hollywood blockbuster entitled “The Chronicles of Narnia” . It clearly demonstrates the contempt that many non-believers have for Christianity.

In her piece which was published in The Guardian, Toynbee writes:

The lion exchanging his life for Edmund’s is the sort of thing Arthurian legends are made of. Parfait knights and heroes in prisoner-of-war camps do it all the time. But what’s this? After a long, dark night of the soul and women’s weeping, the lion is suddenly alive again. Why? How?, my children used to ask. Well, it is hard to say why. It does not make any more sense in CS Lewis’s tale than in the gospels. Ah, Aslan explains, it is the “deep magic”, where pure sacrifice alone vanquishes death.

Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls. Did we ask him to? Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart. Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers when you are told. So the resurrected Aslan gives Edmund a long, life-changing talking-to high up on the rocks out of our earshot. When the poor boy comes back down with the sacred lion’s breath upon him he is transformed unrecognisably into a Stepford brother, well and truly purged.

I have always found it interesting how the issue of Christianity causes otherwise thoughtful intellectuals to devolve into unintelligent bigots whose discourse is filled with the very same hostile and hypocritical judgment they try to attribute to Christians.

What is most interesting about Toynbee’s commentary is that nobody forced her to go to the movie. No one forced her to read the book. No one is forcing her to believe the message being shared in the Chronicles of Narnia. And most importantly, no one is forcing her to believe the teachings of the Bible, including the miracle sacrifice that Jesus made so that we could have everlasting life. Why does the mere existence of Christianity offend her so? She could simply chose not to go to the movie, read the book or believe the teachings of the Bible.

As a matter of fact, one of the primary tenants of Christian faith is that of choice. You can choose to believe or not. You can choose to sin or not. The Bible says, “I set before you life and death, now choose life.” This also implies that those choices have consequences; some good and some bad.

But what I think bothers these brainiacs is the fact that they cannot find a way to logically pick and choose what biblical principles they will apply to their lives and which they will ignore. For those who are intellectually honest, they know that “Cafeteria-style Christianity” doesn’t work and it infuriates them. They want their religion to fit their world view. But for us to receive God’s blessings our world view must be transformed by our faith. And it is that idea of faith that they cannot grasp. It simply seems absurd to them that one must first in faith open their heart to God and then he will prove his love, his faithfulness and his promises. Wouldn’t it be easier?

Although a lot of the hostility that intellectuals have toward Christianity is also deeply rooted in bad experiences they have had with Christians, a lot of it also is the result of the most basic of man’s faults- pride.

Craig DeLuz

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