what i’m watching: Prince Caspian

Category : CS Lewis, faith, sin, taking action, trust

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Both The Chronicles of Narnia and The Lord of the Rings are Christian allegories.  Meaning that behind the story is another message.  In this case, both movies focus heavily on the idea of redemption.  But what I find interesting is that they take completely different approaches to that message.  The Lord of the Rings is a fantastic story on it’s own rights.  The characters are compelling.  The action is intense.  And the plot is intriguing.  You can enjoy it even if you don’t know about the Christian undertones.  The Chronicles of Narnia, on the other hand, are only great stories (and now movies) if you keep the allegory in mind .

Let’s look at two examples where knowing the philosophy of C.S. Lewis radically changes the meaning of the story.  (**minor spoilers ahead**)

Example 1:   After suffering a major defeat, Prince Caspian loses hope.  He no longer believes Peter and the rest can help him.  And he certainly doesn’t believe Aslan can do anything.  So when he’s approached about receiving “power” to defeat his enemies, he agrees.  Unfortunately the power is that of the White Witch.  Both Caspian and Peter become entranced by her offer – the offer to destroy their enemies.

It’s no coincidence that the one person who knew what it was to succumb to the White Witch was the one to defeat her.

We sometimes think that the “best” Christians are the ones who don’t have to suffer temptation or sin.  That truly great Christians never have to struggle with these problems.  But I believe the people best suited to avoid sin and temptation are those who have had to overcome them.  In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Edmund had fallen for the same trick – she promised that he would be greater than his brother.  Edmund was able to defeat the White Witch not because he was somehow better than Peter or Caspian, but because he had overcome her once before.  He knew what that temptation looked like, and he was able to fight it off.

Example 2:  When Lucy stands alone on the bridge against an army – she stepped out first with no assurance, outside her faith in Aslan, that she would survive.  It was only after she acted that Aslan appeared.

We often think we must wait for God before we can act – but so often God doesn’t appear until we act.  It’s not because God is selfish or lazy, or even because he’s busy.  It’s because God wants us to grow.  Just like parents want their kids to learn new things, God wants us to learn new things.  And sometimes that means we have to step into uncertain situations.  Of course what we see in the movie is that Lucy was never really alone.  Aslan was with her the whole time.  She just needed to act first to find out.  That’s really the powerful undertone of The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian – even if Aslan doesn’t have any speaking parts in the scene, his presence is unmistakable.

Movies have a way of presenting things that can strike us on a different level.  One of the great things about movies is that you’re detached from the choices.  As an outsider we can see when someone goes awry.  We know that when a character in the movie goes against Aslan, bad things happen.  The characters don’t see it.  They are caught up in the moment.  They are too close to the action.  Too emotionally involved.  Movies, books, stories, give us a glimpse to see the reflection of our lives in their choices.

This is what C.S. Lewis was so good at doing – creating fantasy situations that in many ways are more real than our own lives.  I’ve never talked to the White Witch, but I know I have been tempted into taking short cuts.  I’ve never held off an army with a knife, but I know God has asked me to do crazy things and all I had to go on was my faith in him.

What would my life look like if I could see it from a distance?  Would I realize I was walking away from Aslan?  Away from God?  What would your life look like to me?

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