Saturday, July 22, 2006

Aslan: the Un-Cola - Er, I mean Un-Christian

Adam Gopnik, writing in The New Yorker, puts his finger on the very thing that no doubt troubles every fifth-grader reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the first time: "Aslan the lion, the Christ symbol ... is, after all, a very weird symbol for that famous carpenter's son -- not just an un-Christian but in many ways an anti-Christian figure."

He goes on:

"[A] central point of the Gospel story is that Jesus is not the lion of the faith but the lamb of God, while his other symbolic animal is, specifically, the lowly and bedraggled donkey. The moral force of the Christian story is that the lions are all on the other side. If we had, say, a donkey, a seemingly uninspiring animal from an obscure corner of Narnia, raised as an uncouth and low-caste beast of burden, rallying the mice and rats and weasels and vultures and all the other unclean animals, and then being killed by the lions in as humiliating a manner as possible -- a donkey who reemerges, to the shock even of his disciplies and devotees, as the king of all creation -- now, that would be a Christian allegory. A powerful lion, starting life a the top of the food chain, adored by all his subjects and filled with temporal power, killed by a despised evil witch for his power and then reborn to rule, is a Mithraic, not a Christian, myth."

--From "Prisoner of Narnia: How C.S. Lewis Escaped," by Adam Gopnik, from The New Yorker, November 21, 2005, p. 92.

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jonah24 said...

Remember that Christ is depicted as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah in the book of Revelation.

David Lovering said...

I believe in the last of the Narnia books "The Last Battle", one of the protagonists was in fact an innocent donkey, who turned out to be a hero-figure at the end.