C.S. Lewis & the Atonement: Mission Accomplished ~ BitterSweetLife

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

C.S. Lewis & the Atonement: Mission Accomplished

I believe I am now the world’s leading expert on the narrow but intriguing subject of C.S. Lewis’s view of the Atonement - that is, a working "explanation" for Christ's death on the cross. I’ve been typing thoughtfully for hours today, cataloging my articles and notes in collated piles on the carpet, thumbing through my stack of thick books. Now my paper, C.S. Lewis & the Atonement: Penal or Magical, Final or Gradual? is all but finished.

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this. About my thesis, that is. I wonder how much to give away. As to my own state of mind, well, no matter how restricted the field, It feels good to be the best.

I guess I’ll post the opening to my paper.

When The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe opened in theatres in December 2006, the feature length film generated cries of wonder, huge box office takes, skyrocketing Lewis book sales, and considerable gnashing of teeth. Posthumously, Lewis had gained thousands of new fans—but his critics despised him all the more. Specifically, they faulted him for the “magical” Atonement represented so vividly in Lewis’s acclaimed children’s book—a gory death on a Narnian stone table—a depiction that some detractors found non-biblical. The complaining was generally drowned in the movie magic, however.

Lewis-hecklers have never been more than a raucous minority. But the Narnian blockbuster was a catalyst for a new wave of criticism targeting Lewis’s theology. While the articles critiqued a variety of perceived shortcomings in Lewis, a reoccurring theme was his Atonement perspective—or the lack thereof. The disapproval was especially evident on the internet, disseminated via discussion boards, blogs, and email, and while the denigration never became mainstream, the “virtual” dialogue over Lewis often became heated.

How's that for an intro? Doesn't it just suck you in? (Maybe you shouldn't answer that question.) As much as I enjoyed this topic, it turned out to be a massive research endeavor. It feels good to have this off my back. And of course, it also feels good to know what Lewis really thought...



Like what you read? Don't forget to bookmark this post or subscribe to the feed.

10 comments:

Jamie said...

Only the intro? I really want to know what Lewis thought on the subject! I'm highly curious about what you had to say in your paper.

Paula said...

Beautiful movie. Loved it.

Matt Christenot said...

Hey Ariel,
What's your take on Lewis and Ransom Theory? It seems like there are traces of it in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Not that all ransom language or imagery is bad or unbiblical, but I wonder if Aslans duping of the white witch doesn't reveal some of this. Your thoughts?

Ariel said...

I was kind of holding out, hoping that someone besides me would care about this topic. (Someone besides me who reads this blog, that is. Of course, in the larger world, MILLIONS of people are dying to know about this very thing.)

Since the questions have been asked (thank you very much Matt, Jamie) I now have a mandate to post about this some more. Or at least comment about it. We'll see...

Paula, if you make it back over here, I'm curious to know what appealed to you about the film. Obviously it "worked" for a lot of people, many of whom certainly aren't Christians and some of whom, like you, don't subscribe to belief in God at all. I find that fascinating. What gives?

Maybe someone else can take a stab at that question as well.

John B. said...

I like the intro . . . but "December 2006" hasn't yet gotten here. Minor, I know. But still.

Ariel said...

This is why it always pays to have a Humanities professor read your intro before you turn it in for a grade. Thanks, John.

Will Robison said...

What can I say? Once again, you completely missed the point. You failed to mention the lousy sound, terrible editing, unimaginative direction, and the completely stolen art design. Oh, your article isn't about Walden Media's atonement for foisting that bit of cinematic garbage on us... my bad! ;)

No, but seriously, I want to read the article too. You whet my appetite and then you pull back at the last second. Do I have to wait for the Ken Burns Documentary, or can I just cut to the punchline now?

kyle wright said...

Seriously... why hasn't the entire paper been posted yet?

Belinda said...

Don't post the thesis in its entirety until it's all done and you gradjeeate (at least I wouldn't), but DO post it sometime, maybe in "chapters." I'm very interested.

Oh, and I am ever grateful that you ended that second question, last paragraph, with the words, "you in". Otherwise...well.

Ariel said...

I went ahead and posted a larger excerpt re: C.S. Lewis's Atonement perspective...

 

Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife