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Acid Tongue - Book Seven Spoilers

Author: Darryn King
Monday, 6 August 2007
Let me tell you a little bit about what happens in Book Seven, the last book in the series, the final showdown between good and evil… The main characters - yes, the kids - are killed in a train crash.No, I’m not talking about the Hogwarts Express, or Harry Potter and friends. I’m sure if J.K. Rowling ended the books like this half the world would be baying for her blood.

This is, however, exactly how C.S. Lewis decided to end the final volume of his Chronicles of Narnia series, The Last Battle.
C.S. Lewis was not just a writer. He was also renowned as a Christian apologist, and his name has now come to be associated with conservative Christianity. He devoted much of his life to lecturing, doing radio shows and writing several books on the subject.

Inevitably, and I think contemptibly, The Chronicles of Narnia series is drenched in Christian themes and ideology. So much of it revolves around guilt, sacrifice and suffering… Great fodder for a children’s book, right-

Lewis himself said that part of his aim with Narnia was to “make it easier for children to accept Christianity when they met it later in life”. Remember that scene in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe- The crucifixion, and later resurrection, of Aslan the Lion- (And here the capital ‘L’ in ‘lion’ should already be ringing alarm bells - such a Christian thing, these proper nouns…) Anyone who denies that this is an emotionally manipulative and down-your-throat parallel to the Jesus story is kidding themselves. It’s Passion Of The Christ - for kiddies.

Still, there are those who insist that they can ignore the Christian element and read the series purely as a fantasy. Tell me, how does a bloody lion suddenly come back to life- As Christian allegory, The Chronicles of Narnia is propaganda. As pure fantasy, it’s just sloppy storytelling.

My main gripe with Narnia is that it presents the ugliest and most primitive version of Christianity: a Christianity where brown-faced people worship a false God, a Christianity of martial combat, intolerance, self-righteousness… and the insistence that the physical world is meaningless compared to the afterlife that awaits God-fearers everywhere.

Which brings me back to the train crash. Yet, it’s true: those four kids - Susan, Peter, Edmond and Lucy Penvensie - die in a railway accident. They then become fully-fledged citizens of the Kingdom of Narnia… but not all of them are granted salvation. Susan Pevensie, the eldest girl, isn’t allowed in because, in the words of her sibling, “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.” In other words, she’s hit puberty, so she can’t go to Heaven… and we all know where Door Number Two goes to.

It’s all rather nasty and horrible, really. Come to think of it, I’d much rather read Harry Potter. A world of dragons, goblins, witches and evil wizards makes for a much more pleasant read.