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Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Clunking Allegory

Goody gum-drops - my favourite firebrand on her broomstick again.

"Children won't get the Christian subtext, but unbelievers should keep a sickbag handy."

Yikes.

One of the things I miss about swanning around the London media scene is no longer bumping into the wonderful Polly Toynbee - yes, the very same: daughter of lit crit extroadinaire Philip Toynbee, hence granddaughter of famous historian Arnold J. Toynbee, therefore great-great niece of THAT Arnold Toynbee.

But, all I need concern myself with is a stout internet connection so I can continue to read in real time delicious snappings like this Narnia review.

Every word a gem, so I won't dilute it here with silly quotes except to lure you in with a brutalised précis of PT's Cliff's Notes for non-CS Lewis aficionados.

  • Four children enter Narnia through a wardrobe and find themselves in a land frozen into "always winter, never Christmas".
  • Unhappy middle child, resentful of being bossed about by older brother, broods with meanness and misery.
  • The devil tempts him with Turkish Delight into betraying his siblings and Narnian buds.
  • Sins can only be redeemed by supreme sacrifice of Christ-lion laying down his life.
  • Muchas blubbering.

    "So far, so good. The lion exchanging his life is the sort of thing of Arthurian legend.

    But what's this?

    After a long, dark night of the soul ... the lion is suddenly alive again.

    Why? How?, my children used to ask.

    Well, it is hard to say why. It does not make any more sense in CS Lewis's tale than in the gospels. Ah, The Lion explains, it is the "deep magic", where pure sacrifice alone vanquishes death.

    Of all the elements of Christianity, the most repugnant is the notion of the Christ who took our sins upon himself and sacrificed his body in agony to save our souls.

    Did we ask him to?

    Poor child Edmund, to blame for everything, must bear the full weight of a guilt only Christians know how to inflict, with a twisted knife to the heart.

    "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 when you are told."

  • So there. And that's not the most provocative of Ms Toynbee's review.

    Read the piece in full and blanche for when Polly reaches that celestial entrance interview and St Peter pulls it from her dossier.


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