Interview with Michael Coren (author of a recent book on Narnia for teens. There's a horde of recent Narnia books it seems. Hmm.) on Zenit. Makes some great points:
Q: What is the significance of another Christian film coming out of Hollywood, on the coattails of "The Passion of the Christ"?THANK YOU! Gosh I'm tired of all the blitz that goes on about how this is the next best thing since the Lord imself walked the earth, and how we (Christians) have to use this to Reach The Unsaved, yada yada. Basta!
Coren: I don't think "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" is a "Christian" film; we have to be careful with calling it that. I don't believe "The Passion" produced this movie -- I think "The Lord of the Rings" did.
What is more significant is why there have been no biblical movies after "The Passion." They could make a really bad movie and it would do well financially because there is such a hunger for Christian movies out there.
But Hollywood would rather do anything than make a movie with Christian values. It is a wonder that nothing has come after "The Passion."
Q: What are your hopes -- and fears -- for "The Lion"? Do you expect it to bear fruit as a witness to Christ and the Gospel message?
Coren: I haven't been able to see any special early screenings of "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" up here in Canada; the Christian world is not as organized or influential like in the States. I will be going to the midnight screening on Dec. 8 with everyone else.
I have no fears about the movie. There will always be some Christians who define their faith by what they are offended by, and nothing is ever pure enough for them. There will be people who say this or that is wrong, and some who think the movie should not have been made.
I think the movie will be a helpful way to talk about Christianity. People will read Lewis, talk about faith and the movie and other good things.
I read the book when I was 6 or 7. I wasn't raised in a Christian family and had no exposure to Christianity. Twenty years later I came into my faith and I am convinced the seeds were planted by that book. I believe my faith began then.
But we can't expect someone to see the movie, have an evangelical experience, and come out of the theater on their knees and say "Save me!" We shouldn't think it will change everything -- what did "The Passion" change? They are only movies. The Holy Spirit can use a movie but it doesn't need to.
Here's the Christianity Today review. Likes the movie, but thinks Aslan has been changed in some rather significant way. (You know what, I don't really give a hoot. I haven't read the books in years. I'm really looking forward to the movie!)
Frederica Matthewes-Green, one of my favorite Orthodox writers, has a very positive review at Beliefnet as well. (Via Pontifications).
Oh, and here's Andrew Greeley's column. (As Amy says, when he's good he's good!). It seems like he's always on the "Catholicism is cool" kick. Which is why, of course, I liked him. Highly unorthodox (let's see -- women priests, priests should be appointed on a rotating short-term basis) of course. His "The Catholic Myth" was great. The whole "sacramentality" thing. He hates one of the results of the Council -- the stripping of images and statues and devotions from Catholic life. And this whole sex is revelatory of the Divine --- coolness! Then there are the steamy novels (which I haven't read). Anyway, back to his column with some sage advice: "Relax it's only a fairy tale."
However, it seems likely that the executive meant the "evangelical" Christian niche and thus was adopting the evangelical presumption that only those who believe in the literal word-for-word interpretation of the Bible can claim to be Christian. Thus a tedious and contemptuous article in the New Yorker equated the popularity of Lewis with his teaching of doctrines that appeal to evangelicals.So -- go see the movie! Enjoy! And don't pretend like you have to Save Someone Outside the Movie Theater.
I confess that such ignorance gives me a headache. C.S. Lewis was not a Christian in the sense of the word that "evangelicals" insist upon. He was an Anglican who sometimes skirted, in his writings at any rate, dangerously close to the thin ice of Catholicism. Indeed, many in my generation of Catholics simply assumed he was one of us. But even as an Anglican he would certainly fall out of the realm of the "saved" when the Rapture blasts all of us who do not believe in word-for-word inerrancy into oblivion.
Secondly, it seems to me that the evangelicals slip dangerously close to Catholic idolatry when they embrace a wondrous allegory as a summary of the biblical story. Jesus is not and never was a lion like Aslan in the film. To interpret him as a lion is to go light years beyond literal, word-for-word inerrancy. The evangelical enthusiasm about the sufferings of Jesus in Mel Gibson's "The Passion of the Christ" put them one step away, it seemed to me, from importing crucifixes and Stations of the Cross into their churches. I'm afraid that their enthusiasm for both films shows just how seductive the Catholic temptation is. We delight in pictures and stories and allegories and symbols and signs because they appeal to the whole human person and not just to the rigid, rational mind.
We are a church designed for the media age with its deluge of pictures and stories -- though we usually don't know what to do with the opportunity.