Sunday, May 18, 2008

Prince Caspian

"Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." Mt. 7:21

Prince Caspian, as part of The Chronicles of Narnia series, has been billed as a "Christian" movie, since the novels upon which these films are based were written as a Christian allegory by C.S. Lewis.

But as I watched the movie, I wondered where in the Gospels Jesus told his disciples to make war on their enemies, murder innocent soldiers, or pray to Him so that other human beings will die a gruesome, water-drenched death.

But in Prince Caspian, that's exactly what happens.

In this movie, we see our "heroes" (the Pevensie children and the titular Caspian played by Ben Barnes) wage a pre-emptive strike on the castle of King Miraz, murdering soldiers in the middle of the night, and then declare war on the very people they are trying to set free. This is hardly "Christian" behavior.

At the Last Supper, when the soldiers were about to arrest and eventually kill Jesus, the disciples had a similar reaction: "Lord, let's strike first. Here are two swords!" to which Jesus dismissed them with a quick response: "That's enough." (cf. Luke 22:38). So what "Christian" behavior is exemplified by such violence?

According to a faithful reading of the pacifist image of Christ, the Narnia characters are hardly being "Christian" in a movie like this.

Perhaps C.S. Lewis was more inspired by the vengeful, smiteful image of God from the Book of Exodus than the radical message of peace of Jesus in the Gospels. Near the end of this film, in fact, King Miraz's soldiers are drowned in a river flood, calling to mind the Exodus story of the Egyptians being destroyed in the Red Sea as they chased down Moses and the Israelites.

Is this image of God healthy for Christians to see in the 21st Century? Perhaps in the 10th Century B.C., but hardly the image we should see today.

In the New Testament, Jesus explains: "Not everyone who says 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven." (Mt. 7:21) In other words, even if we bill something "Christian" does that mean that it is actually "Christian."

Further on in the seventh chapter of Matthew, Jesus explains that even if we declare that we fight in the name of Christ, Jesus will reject any such action in His name. His is not a gospel of hatred or aggression. His is a gospel of peace. This is the "will of my Father in heaven" that Jesus speaks about.

There is, however, one glimmer of hope in this crusader-esqe movie. Little Lucy Pevensie (Georgie Henley) makes a wise choice, by heading away from battle when all others run to fight. In a way, she is seeking an alternative to violence, pettiness, and aggression. She pursues another option - longing for answers from her mentor and guide Aslan (the C.S. Lewis stand-in for the image of Jesus Christ, voiced here by Liam Neeson).

Her example should be a model for all of us. In the face of violence and aggression, let us run into the arms of Christ, reading His words in the Scriptures and listening to His words in our heart about what we should do.

When we go there, we will be faced with the Prince of Peace who rejects violence in all its forms.

So as we leave the movie theatre, pray that we follow the lead of little Lucy instead of the tempting path of Caspian and most the other characters in this bloody movie.

1 comment:

patrick said...

the makers of Prince Caspian kept to the original story better than i would have expected... i had heard they were going to make it into a silly pure-action flick, but thankfully this was not so much the case