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veinglory
06-19-2008, 05:40 PM
I remember the first time I thought about the religious foundatiosn to a lot of literature. I was reading the Narnia books at the age of about 7-8. one the whole I was enjoying it. Although I was a bit miffed about the 'daughters of Eve' not fighting in the battle. But then I got to the end where Aslan is saying 'you shall come to know me by another name' (or something like that.

At the time I was basically bemused and rather put of that the author decided to put in an explicitly Christian ending. In retrospect it was a little like being told the author didn't write the book for people like me. At the time I was not explicitly atheist but I knew that I had no particular interest in Jesus.

I am not sure the answer is to have Atheist Aslan's for kids (Golden Compass?). Except that if religious author intrusion is part of fiction then I guess other perspective should also come up to provide balance. On the whole I would prefer Aslan to remain Aslan and meta-symbolism to remain more implicit in YA. But I dare say that isn't going to happen....

Zoombie
06-20-2008, 12:38 PM
I was never interested in making my characters spokespersons for my own beliefs...

So I usually just throw enough view points in there to muddle up the question of just who I support.

Ruv Draba
06-21-2008, 07:18 AM
I remember the first time I thought about the religious foundatiosn to a lot of literature. I was reading the Narnia books at the age of about 7-8. one the whole I was enjoying it. Although I was a bit miffed about the 'daughters of Eve' not fighting in the battle. But then I got to the end where Aslan is saying 'you shall come to know me by another name' (or something like that.I read Narnia around the same age, but got a strong sense that I'd seen the story before. A bit of poking and I worked it out. I found that exciting because it meant you could tell the same story in different ways.

As a kid I was strongly skeptical about religion. Narnia didn't bother me because it's still a good story. In many ways, Narnia showed Christianity to me in a much better light than Biblical story-telling ever showed it to me - as a child I found that Biblical stories were cluttered with authoritarianism, intolerance and punitivity that I found both offensive and distressing.

As a young adult, the 'Aslan' concept of 'kind lion' grew increasingly bothersome for me as a symbol. It lead me to ask: which is the more dominant - the kindness or the lionness? Ultimately, the truth (I concluded) is that lions can act kind but they're still lions. 'He's not a tame lion', as one of the Narnia characters said.

Aslan is inherently warlike, and the war he brings his followers into is not one of their creation or choosing. Ultimately the whole of Narnia - all the beauty and wonder - ends up being nothing more than fodder for a war that nobody but Aslan really understands -a war that destroys the very beauty it was fighting for. It's a war of intolerance in which Westernised crusaders face off against Middle-Eastern style barbarians. I began to realise the social implications of this - and connect this to the aspirational dreams of Christianity - and they horrified me, as they still do. It pointed me to the same lesson that history shows: zealous monotheists have trouble playing well with others -- especially other monotheists not of their faith.

Narnia is still a good story - perhaps because it's as horrific in places as it is beautiful. Perhaps it's as good a story for atheists as for Christians.