CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Mon Dec 13 17:39:12 EST 2004


The Knowledge Pika wrote

>I don't remember when I read the Narnia books, but I know I was less
>than 10, and I very specifically noticed the dying-and-reborn-God theme.
>I just didn't catch that it was specifically Christian, not having been
>brought up any specific sort of Christian (I was sometimes allowed to go
>to church with my relatives as a treat, which should say something about
>my upbringing...)

Since god-who-dies-and-is-reborn not even slightly the monopoly of
Christianity (whispers of Adonis/Tammuz, Mithras, Osiris, sibilant in the
shadows, I begin to think the rules say only the sibilant die for the
people and Jesus (Christ, the Messiah) is just Following the Rules;
Heinlein missed a trick with "Mike", that should have been "Steve") the
only point at which purely Christian symbolism came in for me was in *The
Voyage of the Dawn Treader* when Aslan turns into a lamb at the end, and as
an eight-year-old I remember that I found that simply silly.  Over-egging
his cake, as it were.

>As a result I was a bit shocked when I did join a church and they all
>told me how Narnia was Christian (I've got some much more Christian
>Fantasy about, which I re-read for fun from time to time). It doesn't
>bother me that much, but being pantheistic-altruistic-pagan I find that
>it doesn't interfere that much with my world-view.

Narnia was written by a Christian who was in the first flush of
born-again-enthusiasm when he wrote it, I suspect.  Being born again tends
to make people behave like dalmatian puppies who've just found a dead
hedgehog: they wriggle and bounce and make excited noises about it.  The
rest of us don't need to get too involved.

(Memo to self: if one wishes to offend born-again christians this is
probably as good a way to do it as any.  Pointing out that Christ almost
certainly had lice and fleas also works.  Any born-again christians on the
list: I try to be a christian, but if you ask me in that special
meet-the-eye earnest way "are you Saved?" I come all over frivolous without
even *thinking* about it, and anyway the only possible answer is a totally
dead-pan "God knows.")

>Lewis's attitudes toward women are much more troubling-- I find it
>especially unnerving to realize that his books have a much more
>childish-academic-gentleman prejudice about adult women than Kipling
>does...

Baffled noise.

Kipling wasn't childish, wasn't an academic and as a member of the Press
mostly wasn't a gentleman, and I have never noticed any prejudice about
women in his books at all, unless it is that they are on the whole better
at being themselves than his men are.  In fact I'd've said his work is full
of splendid women just getting on with being women and letting the men
faffle about being mere and male if they want to.  Please please explain!

Minnow


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