Chronicles of Narnia update: Dawn Treader movie heading into troubled waters

It appears that the long-delayed movie version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, the third installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series, has finally wrapped in Australia. And the word is that Michael Apted, who some had feared as a poor choice to direct the feature, has done nothing to prove his critics wrong. Julia Duin, writing recently in the Washington Times, says Apted seems intent on backing off the Christian theme in the book:

“Voyage” director Michael Apted, who has admitted to excising a lot of the religious connotations out of his 2007 film “Amazing Grace,” sounds double-minded.

The Narnia films, he told Rhema FM, a New Zealand Christian radio station, “present a challenge, for me to put the material out there in an evenhanded and interesting way; and not to be, in a sense, narrow-minded about it, either narrow-minded in a faith way or narrow-minded in an agnostic way. I have to open my heart to what the stories are about.”

“Narrow-minded in a faith way”? That’s going to rev up Christians to see this movie.

This truly is disappointing since many fans of C.S. Lewis’ work had been eagerly waiting to see how these literary treasures would be made into movies. When Disney bailed on the series in Decenber 2008 after The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian (which already started to drift from the series’ Christian theme), there was much doubt as to whether the series would continue. Fox picked up the series and Dawn Treader, which was scheduled for a May 2009 release, was pushed back to May 2010. Now, Druin reports, the movie will be released in December. As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not that you couldn’t enjoy the movie, it’s just that knowing what the books are like and then seeing the story altered in ways that I’m sure Lewis would be displeased with would be a huge letdown.

As before, my advice would be to find the books. Read them, both for your own sake and your children’s. See exactly what Apted thinks is so “narrow-minded.”

HT: Trevin Wax

Head over heart: The danger of showing love and why it’s worth it

There is pain all around us, and it is our nature to avoid that pain as much as possible. But, in this season of colds and flus (and flu shots), we know that there is some pain that is unavoidable and, sometimes, necessary. Regarding pain in relationships, we often see that the some of the deepest pain can come from someone or something you love. So that begs the question as to whether it is safer to not love in the first place because your heart can just be broken.

C.S. Lewis provides a wise answer and a strong rebuke in The Four Loves:

Of all arguments against love none makes so strong an appeal to my nature as “Careful! This might lead you to suffering.”

To my nature, my temperament, yes. Not to my conscience. When I respond to that appeal I seem to myself to be a thousand miles away from Christ. If I am sure of anything I am sure that His teaching was never meant to confirm my congenital preference for safe investments and limited liabilities.…

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly be broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket—safe, dark, motionless, airless—it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation. The only place outside Heaven where you can be perfectly safe from all the dangers and perturbations of love is Hell.

HT: Tyler Kenney

A meditation: The utter helplessness and hopefulness of death

I awake, and I am still with you. — Psalm 139:18b

I can’t do any better than this post from Tyler Kenney at the wonderful Fighter Verses blog. I share it in full here, but I would hope that you visit there, bookmark it, subscribe to it and learn to love the Word of God:

David’s words about waking up to God remind us of that day when we, like all flesh, will be tucked one last time into our earthly beds, returned to rest in the dust from which we came until the day of resurrection.

In his poem, “The Naked Seed,” C. S. Lewis considers our utter helplessness in death but also the hope that waits for those who have God’s Spirit:

My heart is empty. All the fountains that should run
With longing, are in me
Dried up. In all my countryside there is not one
That drips to find the sea.
I have no care for anything thy love can grant
Except the moment’s vain
And hardly noticed filling of the moment’s want
And to be free from pain.
Oh, thou that art unwearying, that dost neither sleep
Nor slumber, who didst take
All care for Lazarus in the careless tomb, oh keep
Watch for me till I wake.
If thou think for me what I cannot think, if thou
Desire for me what I
Cannot desire, my soul’s interior Form, though now
Deep-buried, will not die,
— No more than the insensible dropp’d seed which grows
Through winter ripe for birth
Because, while it forgets, the heaven remembering throws
Sweet influence still on earth,
— Because the heaven, moved moth-like by thy beauty, goes
Still turning round the earth.

The Screwtape Letters come to life in audio drama once more

I have enjoyed reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters” several times over the years. At the local library, I was even able to find this audiobook version, performed well by John Cleese. So I was very excited to hear that Focus on the Family has produced a new audio version, which will be out Oct. 15. Especially intriguing is that Andy Serkis, who made Gollum come to life so vividly in the “Lord of the Rings” movies, will be performing the role of Screwtape. Visit the link below the video clip to learn more.

Here is the description of the production from the Focus on the Family site:

From the award-winning audio drama team that brought you Radio Theatre’s Amazing Grace and The Chronicles of Narnia. In his enduringly popular masterpiece The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis re-imagines Hell as a gruesome bureaucracy. With spiritual insight and wry wit, Lewis suggests that demons, laboring in a vast enterprise, have horribly recognizable human attributes: competition, greed, and totalitarian punishment. Avoiding their own painful torture as well as a desire to dominate are what drive demons to torment their “patients.” The style and unique dark humor of The Screwtape Letters are retained in this full-cast dramatization, as is the original setting of London during World War II. The story is carried by the senior demon Screwtape (Andy Serkis) as he shares correspondence to his apprentice demon Wormwood. All 31 letters lead into dramatic scenes, set in either Hell or the real world with humans—aka “the patient,” as the demons say—along with his circle of friends and family. This Radio Theatre release also stars Geoffrey Palmer (Tomorrow Never Dies), Laura Michelle Kelly (Sweeney Todd), Eileen Page (The Secret Garden), and other world-class actors.

Was C.S. Lewis an open theist?

Who was C.S. Lewis?
Who was C.S. Lewis?

No, but there are some scholars who would argue that. How well do we know the man considered perhaps the greatest Christian of the 20th century? Lewis once said: “I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen. Not only because I see it, but by it I see everything else.”

We would do well to better understand this man, who is familiar to many — Christian or not — through his many popular writings. His insight into Christianity and his way of communicating it is unique. Brad Mercer, the senior pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Greenwood, Miss., is lecturing on the life and works of C.S. Lewis at the First Presbyterian Church in Kosciusko, Miss. Mercer is currently pursuing his doctorate in Lewis studies. The church has graciously made his lectures available online.

C.S. Lewis was more than The Chronicles of Narnia

\Ligonier Ministries has graciously made available its January issue of Tabletalk magazine, which looked at the life and writings of C.S. Lewis. With Prince Caspian opening this weekend, it is as good a time as any to look at the man whose writing have inspired many people, myself included.

It has been a treasured memory of mine the time I spent reading through the Chronicles of Narnia books (in the originally published order, not the modern order) with my children. First of all, Lewis was a great writer, and it is good for children to hear and read (when they could) what good literature looks like. Secondly, the Christian message is clear throughout the books in telling the story of Narnia, Aslan and the struggle that ultimately ends in the triumph of good over evil.

But Lewis wrote much more than children’s books, and you would be missing much if you didn’t look into his other writings. Books like “Mere Christianity” or “The Screwtape Letters” or essays like “The Weight of Glory” or “The Four Loves.” Lewis is a writer who puts your mind to work and points you to God.

So, while watching a movie is enjoyable, it would also be good to pull out a good book by C.S. Lewis and stretch your mind a little.

HT: Ligonier Ministries

There are no ordinary people

This is a piggyback post, based on something I read earlier today. The question is: Do people bore you? And is so, why? It is hard to show Christ’s glory when the only person we find interesting is ourselves. Here is what C.S. Lewis says:

It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would strongly be tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilities, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. (The Weight of Glory, 14-15)

Our evangelism suffers when we can’t put away worship of ourselves long enough to engage someone else. Perhaps their view of Christ in us is being clouded by our own love for ourselves.

HT: Desiring God