The Critics of Narnia

Posted on December 16, 2005

Catherine Seipp writes an interesting commentary in the L.A. Times about the sound and fury of all the Narnia detractors, which apparently are of all political and religious persuasions. Some groups think Lewis was a pagan sun god worshipper and an occultist.

Narnia offers "the salvation message of an occult, New Age lion," writes Jeff Zakula of Keepers of the Faith, a business that sells children's books to home-schoolers. "Lewis, like Disney, was a New Ager. He built entire surrealistic worlds for our children to escape into - escape from reality and from real life. These worlds invariably contain creatures of every sort endearing to our children, performing heroic feats and displaying often greater powers than our savior."

My shock at this bizarre anti-C.S. Lewis campaign eventually became a kind of amazed appreciation. The screeds from Robbins and Zakula are actually quite well written - disturbingly so, in fact. And the Van Nattens offer up a strangely compelling American folk art that can't be faked. They also complain, for instance, that Lewis smoked and drank and that he used the word "ass" four times in books written for children.

Apparently, C.S. Lewis and his Narnia books have infuriated both the far left and the far right, which we find to be an especially impressive feat. The whole issue is absurd, anyway. There is both pagan and Christian imagery in the Narnia books. The bottom line is that they are really great stories, and well-worth reading; we adored them when we were children and were blissfully unaware of any deeper themes in the books whatsoever.

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