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Founder, MovieGuide® Magazine
Chairman, Christian Film & TV Commission (CFTC)
Author of several books
JD, New York University; BA Comparative Literature, Dartmouth College
BUILDING BLOCK FOR A GREAT STORY
In 1980, Ted was president of the organization that produced the animated version of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe on CBS television. Ted says he received a letter from a middle-aged man whose wife had been telling him about Jesus for years. The man said he couldn’t understand the concept until he saw the Emmy-award winning television show. The man said he suddenly understood and accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior.
There are things that Ted says can be discussed prior to viewing the new movie including the author, C.S. Lewis, and the powerful, life-changing message of “mere Christianity” that he spread in the story.
Some Christians are disturbed by Lewis’ use of the word “magic” in Narnia. Lewis made it clear in his novels that it is wrong to use magic, and there is a deeper law written into creation by the Creator to right the wrongs. Lewis reinvested the word “magic” with redemptive meaning. Although the stories by Lewis are fantasy, they should not be confused with the world of the occult.
Ted says one of the building blocks of any theology is ontology, which means the nature of the ground of being, or the essence of the world in which we live. For a Hindu or occultist, people live in an imaginary world or illusion. Christians and Jews live in a real world that experiences real pain, and need a real God and a real Savior. In Narnia, Lewis shows that actions have consequences. For example, when the character named Edmund succumbs to the temptations of the white witch, he has to pay the consequences, or someone has to pay in his place. In contrast, Harry Potter books propose that the world can be manipulated through magic. Things change shape and nothing is real. Thus, the individual shapes the world and the individual is, in a sense, a god.
THE GOOD NEWS
Although Lewis did not intend to give a one-to-one correlation to the gospel of Jesus Christ, Ted says that Narnia is a compelling allegory that leads the reader to a deeper understanding of the good news. In the book, the lion Aslan gives his life to pay the death penalty for Edmund. Edmund was to be put to death for betraying his family by joining the evil white witch in order to gorge himself on Turkish delight. Aslan dies in Edmund’s place, Edmund is set free and Aslan is resurrected. Transformed by the love that Aslan showed him, Edmund joins Aslan.
This is just one example of Lewis’ theology in a simple story. “This is something the secular press doesn’t really understand about Narnia,” says Ted. “What makes it powerful is how it reveals the relationship between God and man in fictive form.” Without the spiritual, Narnia would be a second rate fairy tale. With it, Ted says it is filled with a meaning beyond its making. Ted chose the best articles and essays written by the best experts who studied Lewis and his writings and compiled them in his book. Ted says Narnia Beckons is a great “starter’s guide.”
Ted says the Hollywood movie is “thrilling and wonderful... few will be disappointed.” He points out that there are subtle differences between the book and the movie that few people will notice. One is that the battles are understandably more intense in the movie than the book. The movie is also more creature-centered than the novel. Ted reminds us that “Lewis specifically wrote Narnia as an pre-evangelistic tool.” He says, “There is a richness to the book – like when the children put on the royal robes in the beginning and they don’t fit. Much like us, God designed us from the beginning to be kings.”
The Christian Film & Television Commission is a non-profit organization committed to educating the entertainment industry and general public of the impact mass media has on its audiences. The CFTC is the only active liaison between studio executives and the general public for issues of family entertainment and faith.
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