Book Rails Against Christianity in Lewis’s Narnia Series

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch ...
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Another stimulating and incisive post from the C. S. Lewis blog.  Devin Brown, a professor of English at Asbury College and author of two books on Narnia, reviews Laura Miller’s book The Magician’s Book: A Skeptic’s Adventures in Narnia.

Miller was given a copy of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by her second grade teacher, and fell in love with the story.  She even aspired to be like Lucy, whom she describes as “that rare creation, a character who is good without being a prig or a bore.”

However, later in life when she realized that many of the book’s themes reflected Christian commitments, she felt “tricked, cheated, and betrayed.”

Devin writes,

She then goes on to maintain that the Chronicles of Narnia are “really just the doctrines of the Church in disguise,” an institution which she asserts is characterized by “endless proscriptions and requirements,” by “guilt-mongering” and “tedious rituals.” . . .

Christianity, for Miller, is “a black hole, sucking all the beauty and wonder out of Narnia.” In the 1996 column where Miller first explored this topic, an essay which appeared in the Salon.com “Personal Best” series, she called Christianity “noxious” and “twisted.” . . .

In her book Miller writes, “The Christianity that I knew—the only Christianity I was aware of—was the opposite of Narnia.” Narnia was “liberation and delight” while Christianity was “boredom, subjugation, and reproach.”

If you’re a fan of the Narnia books, that kind of hits you like a punch in the gut, doesn’t it?  It’s sad that her impression or experience of Christianity is so negative.

But Devin’s critique is right on.  For example:

Would she have felt so horrified had she discovered Lewis was a Buddhist?
What would be said about a Christian who first loved a book but then became angry and rejected it after discovering its author was, for example, Jewish or Muslim and that the story reflected his or her underlying beliefs? My guess is that such a reader would be labeled as narrow or bigoted, and rightly so . . . .

While Miller’s work may appear to focus on Lewis and the Chronicles of Narnia, the determining role is played by the contact she had as a young person with a less-than-perfect version of Christianity. Much of her critique of that experience may be valid, and if so, Lewis would be the first to agree with it. But when Miller purports to be criticizing the Christian elements in the Narnia series, it is really this experience and not Christianity, or Narnia, or Lewis she is taking to task.

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5 thoughts on “Book Rails Against Christianity in Lewis’s Narnia Series

  1. Pingback: Sensus Divinitatis News - Book Rails Against Christianity in Lewis’s Narnia Series

  2. What a shame that Ms. Miller had that negative reaction. She needs prayer big time. Also that terrible example of Christianity that she encountered in the past, and examples like it, need much prayer. Let’s face it, many Christians and many churches really turn off unbelievers in a big way. God must grieve over such situations. But God can break through to Ms. Miller in spite of everything (the Hound of Heaven), as He already has to such as Anne Rice, for example. (Hi, Devin. I meet you at a series of talks you gave in Richmond, Ky, on Lewis and Narnia, a year or two ago.)

  3. This is Devin Brown checking in. Thanks for your support for my piece.

    Here is a quote from Miller’s column at Salon.com:

    Lewis’ books are very, very English and very Christian, in a particular way. The latter I didn’t realize until I was a good deal older, and this discovery filled me with anger and bitterness. I had been betrayed, tricked into giving my heart to the very noxious, twisted religion I had tried so hard to elude.

    What if we substitued JEWISH for CHRISTIAN in this passage? The writer would be labeled as anti-Semitic and would be called biased and prejudiced. But when someone attacks everything Christian, they are called intellectual.

    • Hi Devin,

      Thanks for your comment and the great review and critique. The language she uses is quite abrasive and caustic. She must have had a really bad experience with Christianity in her life. I hope she’ll meet some Christians who can help dismantle those stereotypes. You’re right, it seems that Christianity is always open game for scurrilous attacks. You’d almost think it was a conspiracy. Actually, I think it is.

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