Perhaps you have read Polly Toynbee’s passionate article on the new Narnia film. Well worth a read. It is not one of her more measured responses, and all the more interesting for that.
Every one of those thorns, the nuns used to tell my mother, is hammered into Jesus’s holy head every day that you don’t eat your greens or say your prayers.
The article gives some real insight into Polly Toynbee’s real issues with abusive religion, which we want to be hugely sympathetic to.
The two dons may have shared the same love of unquestioning feudal power, with worlds of obedient plebs and inferior folk eager to bend at the knee to any passing superior white persons – even children; both their fantasy worlds and their Christianity assumes that rigid hierarchy of power – lord of lords, king of kings, prince of peace to be worshipped and adored.
But essentially this is a power struggle between conservatism and liberalism, and christianity is caught up in it. I don’t think we want the agenda of Jesus associated with that power struggle, and in order to do that any conversation will have to be humble about the failings of the church in the past and its throwing its substantial weigh behind political and social conservatism. However the crucial issue is this:
So Lewis weaves his dreams to invade children’s minds with Christian iconography that is part fairytale wonder and joy – but heavily laden with guilt, blame, sacrifice and a suffering that is dark with emotional sadism.
Interwoven with that struggle however is a philosophical debate. Scientific humanism will allow no limits to be placed on human power and potential. Here we need to disagree. Pollys humanism is her weakness – her privilege and education, social standing and personal stature make her naive about the reality of human experience. We are guilty, we do suffer – the answer is not education (though that is a profound good) we do need redemption – but trying to help Polly to see that is a massive task, particularly given her experiences.