Beliefnet
  • ART VS. PREACHING
  • NARNIA AS ALLEGORY
  • MAGIC
  • HARRY POTTER VS. NARNIA
  • Art vs. Preaching I�ve always believed that children�s literature is supposed to entertain, not preach. But as a Christian parent, I care a lot about spiritual and moral values. Can you give me some advice on how to read the Chronicles with my kids?

    Just remember that Lewis wanted his fantasies be read and enjoyed first as stories. For him as a boy, church had been a dull and deadening experience. He wanted his fantasies to accomplish the opposite�to awaken a child�s intellect, imagination and emotions to spiritual realities. Only then, he believed, could meaningful interpretation happen. Unless you want your kids to dread story time (and make Lewis roll over in his grave), resist the urge to press home every spiritual or moral lesson that occurs to you. Your role is to encourage, invite, facilitate what the story is already accomplishing. Whenever possible, let your children�s own questions and observations lead the way. And trust that the Holy Spirit is also at work in your family (Why not make this your earnest prayer?). Chances are your children will be learning from the Chronicles at one level or another for years.

    Narnia as AllegoryDid Lewis intend for Aslan to equal Christ, and the White Witch Satan?

    The Chronicles are not allegory in the strictest sense, where everything in the story equals something else outside of it (like Bunyan�s "Pilgrim�s Progress," for example). However, the Narnia stories clearly contain symbolic elements. In "Lion," aspects of Aslan�s death and resurrection closely parallel Christ�s crucifixion and resurrection. Events of "The Last Battle" echo Bible prophecies about deception and persecution in the last days of Earth.

    Throughout the Chronicles, Lewis leaves little doubt that Aslan is a picture of Jesus. For example, at the end of "Dawn Treader," Aslan tells the children that he is known by another Name in our world. And by knowing him in a bit in Narnia, they can know him better here.

    However, the White Witch, like other witch�s and wicked characters in Narnia is not necessarily a stand-in for Satan. Instead, she represents the reality of supernatural evil in our world.

    In Narnia, we can often spot parallels with Bible characters or hear an echo of Scripture. And discussing these can be fun and enlightening. But don�t try to find allegorical corollaries for all of Narnia�s characters. You�d miss out on a lot of fun!

    Magic Both the Old and New Testament forbid dabbling in magic. So why does Lewis make so much use of magical elements in his stories?

    Recognizing Narnia as both fiction and fantasy can help Christian parents understand Lewis� use of magic. Fiction is the word we use for stories we make up�but which could take place in our world. Fantasy stories take things further, creating worlds that may obey rules quite different from ours. So we can affirm that the Bible condemns sorcery and black magic in our world because they do exist as tools of a real devil on a real Planet Earth. But we can also know�and help our children know if they ever doubt�that Narnia is in a different category. It�s real only like Mickey Mouse is real. And in the pretend world of Narnia, magic comes in two forms�good and bad. Think of �magic� as the author�s shorthand way of saying �spiritual reality.�

    Harry Potter vs. Narnia
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