Sunday, December 2, 2007

Tainting our Youth - The Chronicles of Narnia

There has been a recent stink raised about the upcoming film version of "The Golden Compass". According to some Christian groups the film is a gateway to atheism. They fear that once watching the film, the christian youths will want to read the books. Then after reading these novels they will be tainted with the desire to denounce Jesus and God. It will be a one way trip to hell for these unfortunates.

This is silly. First off, this big ruckus is only going to make more people read the books and watch the movie (see how well this tactic worked for "The Divinci Code" and "The Passion of the Christ"). Secondly if a person's faith is strong (because to paraphrase a classic Christmas film "faith is believing when common sense tells you not to") these easily swayed youths will resist the siren song of "The Golden Compass" and it's sequels.

Here's a flip example for you. I was raised in a primarily Catholic household. We celebrated Christmas and Easter, but didn't really go to church, although my mother did send me to Sunday school on occasion. I knew who Jesus was and his basic message, but I wasn't well versed in the bible.

Then one day at school, our teacher read "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" to us. Now, the Chronicle of Narnia were written by a devote Christian, who was creating these stories as a new way to introduce Christian ideals and values to a younger audience. I first read these back in the early 80's so people weren't as PC as they are now, or I'm sure some of parents of students in our class would have complained. But no one did and we read the story in class.

I loved it. I thought it was a great story filled with magic, heroes, villains, talking animals, and warfare. I was so excited I wanted to read more and soon was devouring "Prince Caspian" and "The Silver Chair". Never once did I associate Aslan with Jesus. Never once did I see Christian values and ideals in these stories. I just liked the stories for the adventures they took me on.

Guess what? I did not grow up to be a practicing Christian.

Speaking for myself, I think my love of mythology put things in perspective for me. I saw "The Chronicles of Narnia" to be a good story, just like "Lord of the Rings" or "Clash of the Titans" or "Star Wars". In fact all these stories have similar themes and ideals. Later in life I discovered the work of Joseph Campbell and his analysis of storytelling and mythology and it really opened my eyes.

But back to the point here. "The Chronicles of Narnia" were not a gateway for me to Christianity. They were just good stories I enjoyed reading. My parents were there for any questions I had about the stories, or faith or god. They did their best to explain their views and always say "But that's just my opinion. There are others. Find out more." I really respect them for that.

I think its unfortunate that some people see books and ideas as an attack to their faith. Most of the time it's not. It may be a challenge, but if you are secure with your faith, you should welcome the challenge. Welcome the questions the work may bring. You should be comfortable enough to say, "I'm not afraid to have my children experience an opposing view point. It will only make their faith stronger."

What do you think? Should books with agendas be kept from children? Does this tactic do anything other than raise the profile of these books an films?

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