Religion and fantasy

Gross Family argross at
Wed Jul 25 07:44:52 EDT 2001

> > Ros:
> > >Yes, I usually react the same way. I adore the Narnian books and Zenna
> > >Henderson's "People" books, but am still uneasy with the preaching
> inherent
> > >in them. I think these work because the story and the characters are
> > >strong,
> > >and because the religious elements have such a strong archetypal power,
> but
> > >I still don't like the fact that I am being preached at (please note
> I
> > >absolutely *love* these books).
> > It depends on the book.  I'm quite fond of some preachy books, (although
> > specifics escape me at the moment, but I'm quite sure it's true.)  But
> > others (particularly if the book was mediocre to begin with) are too
> > and I would rather discard the book.  As I said before, it's farily
> subtle,
> > books that are blantantly preachy (Narnia) are sometimes less upsetting
> then
> > books where the whole undercurrent of the books is trying to convert
> > readers, without any overt religion...of which I cannot think of an
> example.
> > Rebecca

Fiona wrote:

> I have to say that I still find it extraordinary that the Narnia books are
> described as preachy when, to me, they are simply of their time: written
> a Christian writer about children from a country dominated by the
> faith and aimed an  audience largely made up of the same. I honestly
> see that a book is preachy when it simply reflects the current theological
> majority of its country of origin and target audience, for which it's
> Christian slant would have huge resonance. Naturally if the Narnia books
> were written today it would be different as the UK (for whom the book was
> originally published) is no longer dominated to the same degree by
> Christianity (nor any religion for that matter) and it's no longer
> considered PC to over emphasise one religion over any other . Also I think
> it is wrong to impose modern ideals on books published in the past - you
> might as well condemn the old Empire Atlases, with their huge bias towards
> the British Empire, or discount Dickens and Austen for their male bias and
> lack of ethnic characters, rather than accepting them for the historical
> relic that they are and enjoying the story

Even in Lewis's time, not all British people were even nominally Christian,
let alone believing Christians. When you're not Christian, books that assume
that Christianity is the most "real" religion feel preachy. As a Jew (albeit
not wholly practising), I find the Christian belief that Lewis would have
shared (though I am aware not all Christians feel this way), that
Christianity is the most "true" religion, patronising. I have to say that I
feel that the Narnian stories *are* "preachy", even though I love them.


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