So we were watching the newest installment of the Chronicles of Narnia film series—Prince Caspian—the other night, and I found myself growing increasingly uncomfortable with the use of a Christ-figure (Aslan) in battle scenes.
I’ve loved the Narnia series since I was a kid. But this time, when I watched Peter charge toward the enemy with his sword drawn, yelling “for Aslan!” I sort of freaked out. (Come on, you know that if this was an allegory meant to portray the teachings of Islam, we’d say that this scene condones jihad.)
At one point, it is suggested that maybe the Narnians won’t fight back, to which the Telmarine king responds, “No, they are far too noble for that.”
Does the story of Jesus really support the notion that refusing to fight back is disgraceful? In the face of the most unjust act in human history, Jesus did not fight back, but allowed himself to be crucified. Despite the human rights atrocities of the Roman empire, he did not urge rebellion. Not once did Paul or any of the apostles instruct Christians to fight back when they were being persecuted. In fact, the apostles specifically urged Christians not to fight back. They understood that Jesus came to show us that evil cannot be overcome by more evil, that killing cannot be overcome by more killing. Someone has to stop the cycle, and Jesus showed us how.
Now, I understand that there are some issues with pragmatism here. Lewis wrote during the world wars, so he certainly lived during a time when fighting back seemed like the only real option. I know there are a lot of logistical problems with such an idealistic view...but I’ve been wondering lately if Jesus really meant it when he said “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you.”
As Adele points out in a recent post on her blog, Christian leaders like Rick Warren have earned a reputation for condoning the use of force to “defeat evil.” Movies like Prince Caspian glorify the notion that, if we believe that God is on our side, we are justified in killing...especially when it comes to self-defense.
I guess I’m just beginning to wonder if it really works. Will we ever be able to defeat evil with guns and bombs? How many more people do we have to kill before we are victorious? How can we be so certain that “we” are good and “they” are evil? When does it stop?
I find it a little ironic that the symbol of the cross was used in the Crusades...and that the broken altar from Aslan’s sacrifice shows up in many of Prince Caspian’s war-themed scenes. I guess I’m wondering if maybe we’ve missed the point.
So, have I gone off the deep end? Everyone loves the Narnia stories, right? Am I taking this too seriously? Is criticizing C.S. Lewis a bit heretical?
Someone talk me down!