Hoping to get a push from the “Narnia” release, an Atlanta-based organization called Art Within is “looking for the next C.S. Lewis,” according to a press release. The 10-year-old group runs a year-long screenwriting fellowship program, “Art Within Labs,” that aims to cultivate Christian screenwriters and playwrights. The ultimate goal is to ensure that mainstream, widely-distributed films with a “faith bent” become “as commonplace as buttered popcorn in American movie theaters.”
With all of the “Narnia” movie premiere hype going on, which my fellow bloggers have been commenting on eloquently, I had to laugh when my friend–and author of her own book connected to “Chronicles”–Sarah Arthur, sent me an article on Aslan that made my day. Freelance writer Mary Beth Ellis dares to suggest that we should all just lighten up a little when it comes to this debate over symbolism and allegory in Lewis’ beloved tale.
Don’t misunderstand. Ellis is a big fan of Aslan. In fact , she thinks he is ideal as a savior figure. He doesn’t talk too much (Ellis somehow figured out he only speaks 922 words in “Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”), doesn’t have endless rules, and loves to hang out with Father Christmas. In fact, since Aslan is always “on the move” and “not quite tame,” she is convinced he could do anything he wants, including wintering at Palm Springs or hanging out with a celebrity. Obviously, Ellis was being tongue-in-cheek, but her humorous words provided me with yet another reminder of why Aslan is one cool cat whom I want to spend more time with.
“Law & Order” takes such care to get New York right–its people, its cultures, its attitude–that I am always surprised when it messes up the small stuff. Last night’s episode revolved around a synagogue that couldn’t seem to decide whether it was Orthodox or Reform. Perpetually-yarmulked men and head-covered women who talk like they went to the Jackie Mason school of East European accents, a shul with multiple daily services, the setting in the Lower East Side all point Orthodox. But a grandiose, cathedral-like shul interior and a clean-shaven, smooth talking rabbi who speaks of biblical stories as mere allegories… that screams Reform.
Either way, those denominationally-ambiguous shul-goers were up in arms about a man who entered the synagogue and desecrated a Bible.. and who promptly turned up dead. But while religion might cause frequent conflict in New York, this case was about another top Big Apple angst-inducer: real estate. The building’s co-owner was trying to scare the congregation into fleeing for suburbia, so he could sell the building for millions of dollars.
My favorite moment was when Alexandra, the assistant district attorney, subpoenas the entire synagogue membership list, only to be confronted by her boss, the D.A. himself, for failing to show “historical sensitivity.” But if it was a church, she protests, they’d subpoena the list. His response: “You can’t ask for a list of Jewish names.” (In truth, desecration of a printed Bible would be unlikely to induce the level of fear and hurt the episode suggested; next time, the writers may want to consider making it an actual Torah scroll… or would that be too historically insensitive?)
For loyal “L&O” fans, perhaps the most important thing to come out of the episode was another–albeit tantalizingly small–glimpse into some characters’ lives. The question “Are you a religious person?” kept recurring, and the answers we got were: Detective Green was raised religious; Jack McCoy, not surprisingly, has no religious inclinations (other than, as the DA points out, his fundamentalist, uncompromising belief in law and the legal process); and Alexandra chimes in to say that she, indeed, is religious… though we’re left to guess at what religion that is.
Think John Lennon and religion, and what springs to mind is his loose-cannon observation in 1966 that “The Beatles are more popular than Jesus” (which led radio stations to sponsor record burnings and others to make death threats) and assorted jibes Lennon took at organized religion in his two books. On the political site Counterpunch today, the editors honor the 25th anniversary of the lead Beatle’s death by unearthing a 1971 interview in which Lennon hints at a deeper religious history. “I used to go around calling myself a Christian Communist,” Lennon says, before recounting how therapy “forced me to have done with all the God s—t.”