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The Pop Gospel
By David Buckna

"They will follow the Lord, he will roar like a lion. When he roars, his children will come trembling from the west." (Hosea 11:10).

On December 9 Disney's The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe opens in theaters, based on Book Two of C.S. Lewis's seven volume classic.

1. Although The Chronicles of Narnia contain biblical allusions--indirect hints of actual Bible verses, themes and scenes--Lewis rejected the idea that he was writing biblical allegory. To make a distinction, what literary device did he call his approach?

2. In The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe (1950) what's the only explicit reference to a Bible?

3. Who's the first Narnian to call Lucy a "Daughter of Eve"?

4. Who recites to the Pevensie children the old rhyme which begins: "Wrong will be right, when Aslan comes in sight,/At the sound of his roar, sorrows will be no more"?

5. What does the name Aslan mean in Turkish?

6. Who betrays his siblings after being tempted by Turkish Delight and the promise of power?

7. What two presents did Father Christmas give Peter?

8. Who put the Deeper Magic into Narnia "before Time dawned"?

9. To whom did Aslan say:"I shall be glad of company tonight."?

10. Chapter 14 records how Aslan was "surrounded by the whole crowd of creatures kicking him, hitting him, spitting on him, jeering at him." What Psalm contains the verse: "All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads"--Psalm 22, 23, or 24?

11. Who shaved off Aslan's mane before he was killed?

12. Who stabbed Aslan to death with a knife of "strange and evil shape"?

13. After Aslan died, what was broken into two pieces?

14. "How Aslan provided food for them all I don't know; but somehow or other they found themselves all sitting down on the grass to a fine high tea at about eight o'clock." In John 6, what food did Jesus provide for the thousands who followed him?

15. What does Aslan do to bring stone animals and people back to life?

16. Mr. Beaver tells the children:"One day you'll see him [Aslan] and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down--and of course he has other countries to attend to." In what chapter of John does Jesus speak of "other sheep"--John 10, 15, or 20? 

17. In The Voyage of the 'Dawn Treader' (1952) Aslan tells Lucy he is known in her world by "another name". In June 1953, an eleven-year-old girl named Hila wrote to Lewis, asking what that name is. Did Lewis tell her?

18. According to Lewis, can a child love Aslan more than Jesus?

19. Which of the Pevensie children (by The Last Battle) abandons her faith in Aslan and Narnia altogether, dismissing them as "child stories"?

20. In August 2005, one of the movie's co-producers told New Zealand's Radio Rhema: "Much like the book, you will find in the movie as much Christian symbolism as you want to. I know lots and lots of people who have read the book and never dreamt there was any Christian symbolism in it." Name him.

Answers:

1. supposal. In a December 1959 letter to a young girl named Sophia Starr, Lewis explains the difference between allegory and supposal: "I don't say, 'Let us represent Christ as Aslan.' I say, 'Supposing there was a world like Narnia, and supposing, like ours, it needed redemption, let us imagine what sort of Incarnation and Passion and Resurrection Christ would have there.'"

>From an essay in Of Other Worlds (1966):"Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument; then collected information about child-psychology and decided what age group I'd write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn't write in that way at all. Everything began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord. It was part of the bubbling." 

2. From Chapter 1: "...and then a whole series of rooms that led into each other and were lined with books--most of them very old books and some bigger than a Bible in a church. And shortly after that they looked into a room that was quite empty except for one big wardrobe; the sort that has a looking-glass in the door."

3. Mr. Tumnus, a flute-playing Faun.

"Good evening, good evening," said the Faun. "Excuse me--I don't want to be inquisitive--but should I be right in thinking that you are a Daughter of Eve?"

"My name's Lucy," said she, not quite understanding him.

"But you are--forgive me--you are what they call a girl?" asked the Faun.

"Of course I'm a girl," said Lucy.

"You are in fact Human?"

"Of course I'm human," said Lucy, still a little puzzled.

"To be sure, to be sure," said the Faun. "How stupid of me! But I've never seen a Son of Adam or a Daughter of Eve before. I am delighted."

"Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living." (Genesis 3:20).

Robert E. Kofahl writes in The Handy Dandy Evolution Refuter: "Few people realize that the Genesis account of the creation of woman from man accords with modern knowledge of genetics which was unknown to Moses. In humans, sex is determined by the two sex  chromosomes. The female has in each body cell two X chromosomes, whereas the male has an X and a Y. Thus, if the female had been created first, it would not have been possible to create the first man from genetic material entirely related to the woman. This is because God in making Adam would have had to create Y chromosomes, for Eve had no Y chromosomes in her cells. As a consequence the resulting race would have been a hybrid race. But because man was created first, woman and man could be completely related to each other."

4. Mr. Beaver. The rhyme echoes Isaiah 65:19: "I will rejoice over Jerusalem and take delight in my people; the sound of weeping and of crying will be heard in it no more."

5. "lion". Lewis first came across the word "Aslan" while reading Arabian Nights. Jesus is referred to "the lion of the tribe of Judah" in Revelation 5:5.

6. Edmund, who tries to return to Aslan and the side of the good Narnians. Although the White Witch demands Edmund's life for his traitorous actions, Aslan dies in his place at the Stone Table. Edmund's betrayal bears some similarity to Judas's betrayal of Jesus.

7. a shield and sword. Father Christmas: "These are your presents and they are tools not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well."

From Chapter 10: "The shield was the color of silver and across it there ramped a red lion, as bright as a ripe strawberry at the moment when you pick it. The hilt of the sword was of gold and it had a sheath and a sword belt and everything it needed, and it was just the right size and weight for Peter to use. Peter was silent and solemn as he received these gifts, for he felt they were a very serious kind of present."

The apostle Paul used a soldier's armour as metaphor to teach early Christians about defense against evil: "Put on the full armour of God so
that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes." (Ephesians 6:11). The armour includes the belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, feet fitted with readiness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, and sword of the Spirit (Ephesians 6:14-17).

8. the Emperor-beyond-the-Sea. The "Sea" is the Eastern Sea, and "beyond" suggests both Aslan's country and the transcendence of God.

Paul writes:"...we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." (I
Corinthians 2:7)

When Aslan comes back to life, he tells the children: "It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor's stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward."

9. Susan and Lucy. Aslan tells them: "I am sad and lonely. Lay your hands on my mane so that I can feel you are there and let us walk like that." Similarly, Jesus wanted his disciples to be a support to him in the Garden of Gethsemane, telling them:"My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me." (Matthew 26:37-38)

10. Psalm 22 (verse 7).

11. an ogre. From Chapter 14:" Another roar of mean laughter went up from her followers as an ogre with a pair of shears came forward and squatted down by Aslan's head. Snip-snip-snip went the shears and masses of curling gold began to fall to the ground. Then the ogre stood back and the children, watching from their hiding place, could see the face of Aslan looking small and different without its mane."

"...he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." (Isaiah 53:7)

Chapter 14 continues: "But he [Aslan] made no noise, even when the enemies, straining and tugging, pulled the cords so tight that they cut into his flesh."

12. the White Witch (Queen Jadis). Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware write in Finding God in the Land of Narnia (2005): "After bringing death to her own world, she sought to enslave another. In our world, the invasion--aided by Adam's fall--came in the person of Lucifer, the highest created being of the heavenly realm....But one day, everything changed. The insanity of pride entered his heart."

Isaiah 53:5: "But he was pierced for our transgressions..."

13."The Stone Table was broken into two pieces by a great crack that ran down it from end to end; and there was no Aslan." (Chapter 15)

Matthew 27:51:"At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split."

14. bread and fish.

Jesus said, "Have the people sit down." There was plenty of grass in that place, and the men sat down, about five thousand of them. Jesus then took the [five] loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the [two] fish." (John 6:10-11).

15. He breathes on them. Paul F. Ford writes in Companion to Narnia (revised, 2005): "Particularly significant is the harrowing of Narnia's 'hell' and the release of the creatures who had been turned to stone by the witch's wand. Aslan revives them by his breath, here most assuredly an image of the Holy Spirit."

16. John 10 (verse 16):"I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd."

17. Not explicitly. Lewis replied: "As to Aslan's other name, well I want you to guess. Has there never been anyone in this world who (1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas. (2) Said he was the son of the Great Emperor. (3) Gave himself up for someone else's fault to be jeered at and killed by wicked people. (4) Came to life again....Don't you really know His name in this world." (in C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, 1996).

18. No. In May 1955, the mother of a nine-year-old boy wrote to Lewis, explaining that her son was concerned he loved Aslan more than Jesus. To her delight, the mother received a reply 10 days later:

"Laurence can't really love Aslan more than Jesus, even if he feels that's what he is doing. For the things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said. So that when Laurence thinks he is loving Aslan, he is really loving Jesus: and perhaps loving Him more than he ever did before." (in C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, 1996).

19. Susan. Richard Wagner (C.S. Lewis & Narnia For Dummies, 2005) observes: "Susan symbolizes a person who had a Christian faith early in life but left it behind....Lewis never resolves Susan's storyline and leaves the question
of whether she ever 'returns to her faith' up in the air."

20. Douglas Gresham, one of two stepsons of C.S. Lewis (Jack), from Lewis's
marriage to Joy Davidman. Gresham continues: "This is not a Christian movie,
any more than Jack decided to sit down and write a Christian book. In fact,
Jack himself said, 'We do not need more people writing Christian books, what
we need is more Christians writing good books.'"

Scoring:

10 Fair

11-15 Good

16-19 Excellent

20 As wise as Solomon

For further reference:

C.S. Lewis & Narnia for Dummies by Richard Wagner (Wiley Publishing, 2005)

C.S. Lewis: Letters to Children, (Scribner, 1996)

Companion To Narnia (revised and expanded) by Paul F. Ford (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005)

Finding God in the Land of Narnia by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware (Salt River Books, 2005)

Narnia Beckons: C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Beyond by Ted Baehr and James Baehr (Broadman & Holman, 2005)

Roar!: A Christian Family Guide to the Chronicles of Narnia by Heather Kopp with David Kopp (Multnomah, 2005)

Sharing the Narnia Experience: A Family Guide to C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by Paul Friskney (Standard Publishing, 2005)

The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis by Alan Jacobs (HarperSanFrancisco, 2005)

On the net:
http://www.cslewis.org
http://cslewis.drzeus.net
http://www.narniafans.com
http://www.thestonetable.com
http://www.narniabeckons.com
http://www.lifeway.com/Narnia/
http://www.beliefnet.com/narnia/
http://ic.net/~erasmus/RAZ26.HTM
http://www.hollywoodjesus.com/narnia.htm
http://personal.bgsu.edu/~edwards/lewis.html
http://www.leaderu.com/focus/lionandlewis.html
http://www.christianitytoday.com/movies/special/narnia.html
http://www.pbs.org/wnet/religionandethics/week913/feature.html
http://www.tollbooth.org/2006/movies/narnia.html

Copyright 2005 by David Buckna. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Buckna is the author of "The Pop Gospel," a quiz feature that has appeared in publications including The Calgary Herald, ChristianWeek and Baptist Press. Buckna reads email at (solomann@look.ca)
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
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