Bacchus Worship and the Chronicles of Narnia

BacchusI’ve begun a re-read of C.S. Lewis’ classic, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, as the movie will be hitting theaters on December 9. As we all know, Lewis was a devout Christian, and his Chronicles of Narnia series contains strong Christian themes and theology that is edifying reading for believers.

Or does it?

In Chapter 2, after Lucy has stumbled into Narnia for the first time through the Wardrobe, she meets Mr. Tumnus, a faun who invites her over for tea. In describing the glory days of Narnia before the White Witch cast her spell of perpetual winter with no Christmas, Mr. list of sites . Tumnus tells young Lucy…

…about summer when the woods were green and old Silenus on his fat donkey would come to visit them, and sometimes Bacchus himself, and then the streams would run with wine instead of water and the whole forest would give itself up to jollification for weeks on end.

Who are Silenus and Bacchus, and to what is Lewis referring? Bacchus is none other than the Roman god of wine and intoxication, also known as the Greek god Dionysus. Silenus was a companion of Bacchus who was usually drunk; he rode the donkey because he could not walk due to his intoxication. When these two icons of drunkenness appeared, the whole forest “gave itself up to jollification for weeks on end,” which can mean nothing other than weeks of drinking and intoxication.

So tell me: is this suitable Christian literature for young children? Literature that introduces them to pagan gods who encourage drunkenness? The Bible clearly forbids the worship of other gods as well as drunkenness. These are not just pretend, fantasy-fiction characters we’re talking about! These are real pagan gods of other religions! Surely Christians should avoid such things.

Well, perhaps you see where I’m going with this. The Christian backlash against Harry Potter is based largely on the same claims. Lewis and Tolkien are acceptable, because of the fantastical nature of their books, it is argued. But Rowling blurs the lines and encourages moral ambiguity. As can be clearly seen, you could argue the exact same concerning Lewis, as he brings characters like Bacchus into the story. See the parallel:

Rowling introduces young readers to false religion (occult and pagan beliefs) and encourages immorality (breaking school rules). Lewis introduces young readers to false religion (pagan gods) and encourages immorality (drunkenness, not to mention the orgies that would go along).

We could take this route of argumentation, but it would be unfortunate. Instead, we could learn how literature actually works and seek to understand the genre properly, rather than set people a-runnin’ scared from stories that might actually be encouraging and edifying. It’s sad that many will be cheering for joy on December 9th, but are up in arms and angry with the release of Goblet of Fire.

42 thoughts on “Bacchus Worship and the Chronicles of Narnia

  1. I found this very interesting, especially in light of the fact of the fact that I am reading the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time with my children. I had always heard of the Christian theme to it. We are about 1/2 way through the first book, but I haven’t noticed this yet myself. I look forward to the movie though.

    As far as looking for ‘hidden meaning’ Christian or otherwise, I think people would do best to take what the author says the book is about at face value and go from there. I always was annoyed in high school when I had to tell the meaning of a poem and a teacher would tell me I was wrong. To me literature means different things to different people. And others shouldn’t go around telling us what to think when we read it.

  2. Which one are you reading as the first book? Magician’s Nephew, or The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Keep on reading – the Christian themes in the series are profound and moving.

    As for the meaning, obviously all art is to some extent going to be interpreted differently by different people. At the same time, JKR has hidden a lot of great stuff in her books. For example, you learn a lot more about the books’ meaning if you understand alchemy, because she has built the whole series on an alchemical framework. See my post tomorrow on whether or not it’s worth it to take the time to discover the “hidden” meanings.

  3. I don’t think C.S. lewis is advocating for drunken orgies. He never says anything about anybody getting drunk, he says they had a good time. Does this mean they were drunk, no. When one drinks that does not mean he/she is drunk, Jesus himself turned water into wine. C.S. Lewis is also not advocating pagan Gods, he doesn’t even say Baccus is a God. I can’t ever see a five-ten year old reading the books, saying:
    “Well, I just got done reading the Cronicles of Narnia and now I’m going to get drunk and have sex.” To the everyday reader, the story of Baccus and Silenus is just to make the understanding of how good the times used to be.
    Now, don’t put me on the bandwagon with the flaming holy-rollers. I haven’t sent Emma Watson a copy of the Scriptures, and I didn’t go to Barnes and Noble to buy Harry Potter books and rip them up. In fact I have read all the books, and I like them. However, having read both C.S. Lewis and J.K.R. I would say that the highest moral value comes from C.S. Lewis, the characters are more honorable and there is a definite split between good and evil. You don’t see that so much with Harry Potter, he often lies, even to Dumbledore, and one can use the same magic to do either good or evil. It’s often hard to tell who’s good or who’s bad. Putting jinxes and such on people for the heck of it doesn’t seem right to me. Yet, it isn’t viewed as very bad in Harry Potter.

  4. Nate, thanks for your comments. A few quick things in response:

    1. The initial part of this post is pardody/satire. I’m not saying Lewis advocated drunkenness and orgies. I’m saying he used pagan and immoral deities to meaning different things in a specific literary context. I’m saying that you can make the exact same arguments against C.S. Lewis as you can JKR.

    2. Yes, Harry lies. But Dumbledore says the truth is preferable to lies. And in the real world people lie. Kids do bad things. Kids at boarding schools break the rules. It’s just what happens. JKR is just being realistic.

    3. Yes, you can use magic to do good or evil. I’d point out that there are “Dark Arts” which are used for evil only. But besides that, I hardly think this point matters. Magic is a literary device in the books.

    4. Rowling’s point in making it difficult at times to tell who’s good and who’s bad is to confront our prejudices. This is a good thing.

    Just a few points for consideration.

  5. Firstly, Lewis writes a mixture of Christian and Pagan, Roman and Norse mythologies. Although Lewis was a Christian you should not confuse Narnia as being a sermon on Christianity. Lewis viewed Christianity as a mythology and it is important to remember that. Yes, The Chronicles do actually display “immoral” characteristics and that’s due to Lewis’s habit of throwing in a variety of his own experiences, literary experiences and whatever might have been on his mind at that time. Christianity is not the only motif in the Chronicles, there are issues with war, German expansion, post-war rationing, his views on women, ideas from medieval England, his ideas on preservation of England and anti-progress views.
    Another point I wish to make about immorality in the Harry Potter children, do not try and compare them to the Narnia children as they both belong to very different time eras. The Narnia children are “Nesbit children”, the Harry Potter children are modern children.

  6. Rachael,
    I disagree with you that Lewis viewed Christianity as a mythology at the time he wrote the Narnia stories. I believe that he felt this way earlier in his life.

    But certainly the Narnia stories are not sermons on Christianity.

  7. Lewis was a Christian while writing these books. They came out “long” after his Mere Christianity. But they ar not sermons. Sermons are for Church. Books written as sermons is often vere low low quality books.

    Nate,

    [Harry] often lies, even to Dumbledore, and one can use the same magic to do either good or evil. It’s often hard to tell who’s good or who’s bad. Putting jinxes and such on people for the heck of it doesn’t seem right to me. Yet, it isn’t viewed as very bad in Harry Potter.

    Yes Harry lies sometimes. Have you met many Christians/Christian teenagers/people who have never lied? In Narnia, the White Witch certainly uses magic for bad purposes. Magic is just natural in Narnia, it is another world. The point is that macog — both in Narnia and HP — is a literally device.

  8. I feel that the use of imperfect characters, such as Harry, who lie and do non-praiseworthy jinxes is not just merely a reflection of reality like Travis says, but also a reflection on humanity as too. As a Christian, one believes that we are here on this earth as a test to choose between good and evil and that because of the fall of Adam and Eve, no one is perfect except the Savior. Therefore, EVERYONE is a sinner, and EVERYONE is in need for redemption. (Why should Harry be an exception to this rule?) JKR appears up to this point to be making this very same point.

    Additionally, the first part of the repentance process is confessing that one has sinned. If Harry were written as a perfect person, he would not be able to go through such a process properly with the reader. I believe he will need to do so before the end.

    To further Harry’s cleansing, his judgements(as well as ours) upon the Dursleys, Snape, Draco, and others, will most likely be fully addressed in book 7. After all, Christians believe that judgement is reserved for “The Lord” and that it is required of us to ALWAYS forgive. So, to pass bad judgment upon ANY character, as well as JKR’s writing, at this point in the series would be premature and wrong in my oppinion. (ie…we are falling into the same trap as Harry) Hmmm…can there be any better way to get this message accross than to have the reader actually go through the same precess as the main character???

    I believe I’ve already explained why we shouldn’t judge Harry’s character yet, as well as why his character is flawed, but I would like to further stress that in order to get this message accross intact JKR will need to establish this same concept with EVERY major character to realize my vision for the series. (Hopefully hers too) If this is in fact what JKR is doing, than this could be why Harry discovers that his father wasn’t perfect as well. (And why we will probably learn in the final book that DD and Harry’s mother had their flaws too.) We already know that SS, the Malfoys, and the Dursleys are bad, that Harry has his imperfections, but what about the rest of them? If JKR wants to establish that EVERYONE has done bad and needs forgiving, then there are other major characters to be explored more fully still. This realization that EVERYONE is a sinner in NEED of atonement will be a crucial step to Harry’s forgiving of others. As he does so, it is this final letting go of his judgments, anger, dissapointments and replacing them with forgiveness and understanding that will give Harry the ultimate powers over LV. (Why else would DD never chose to clarify any of his reasons for trusting him to the Dursley’s, SS’s, and Draco’s constant abusive care or company?)

    If you insist upon comparing with C.S. Lewis, than I suggest you explore some of his characters. As Rachel mentions, there are “immoral” characters in his books too. Though their sins of choice may be less serious, and less explored than those of the characters in Harry Potter, Eustace and Edmond were by no means innocent role models for children to look up to innitially. (Edmond lied too by the way.)

    A sin is a sin. There is no such thing as a little sin. That’s like saying one is a “little pregnant”. The reason JKR isn’t dwelling on more serious sins vs. minor sins as much is because her main message may be more basic: no matter how good we try to be, and we should try by the way, we will ALL make mistakes and we will ALL need to be forgiven for those mistakes. (Just like Edmond and Eustace.) Furthermore, forgiveness of others is one of the most powerful tools Christians have in the real world over Satan and that passing judgement upon others stifles it’s budding. It is for that reason that you don’t see “the definite split between good and evil” Nate. It’s not like that in real life either.

    As for the “higher moral value” in C.S.Lewis writings over JKR’s works, I believe you to be a bit haste, Nate, to make a statement like that until JKR finishes her series. IF I am right about my hypothesis for book 7, then she will make more powerful and basic statements of the best moral fiber available to mankind. Shall we wait and see then? 🙂

    Deborah

  9. Oh…and by the way, as a Christian, I have personal knowledge and experience that judgement of others and lack of forgiveness seems to be the most frequent sins of choice found among our ranks. It is truethfully the trojan horse that many have allowed into their personal lives per say. JKR would truely be wise to confront such an issue should she desire.

  10. I just had a “lumos” moment if you will, as Granger puts it. I just realized that the whole Harry Potter series may be an ingeneous reworking of Jane Austin’s “Pride and Prejudice”. If one is proud, one does not usually forgive others, as it takes a humble person to that. Prejudice means, in essance, to pre-judge. If you put those two concepts together, you get “Pride and Prejudice”. JKR has admitted that Jane Austin is one of her favorite authors too.

    As to whether this all constitutes Christian literature, as Travis questions in his article quite well, I think that his comment on art being subject to different interpretation by various individuals is concise. As any philosopher will tell you, the heart of all religion, including the lack thereof, attests to the truthfulness of many of the same basic principles or laws learned and observed by mankind in general. Though their interpretation and management may be altered, they are in essance alike. It is for this reason that many people may find different meanings laying within the layers of JKR, C.S.Lewis, and other authors. So, argue as one may, we can never really know what the author’s intents are unless they state so directly themselves. Seeing how JKR has shunted aside this very question of her work for the moment, we will have to wait until she is finished, as she has stated that to say so now would spoil her ending. I believe that she will therefore explain her true intentions willingly at the series close.

  11. Doborah,
    Wow, plenty of material in those posts. I would definately agree with most of what you have written. However, if we follow your plan to not judge characters before we know the entire story would be quite misguided.

    To further Harry’s cleansing, his judgements(as well as ours) upon the Dursleys, Snape, Draco, and others, will most likely be fully addressed in book 7. After all, Christians believe that judgement is reserved for “The Lord” and that it is required of us to ALWAYS forgive. So, to pass bad judgment upon ANY character, as well as JKR’s writing, at this point in the series would be premature and wrong in my oppinion. While watching Star Wars should we consider Darth Vader as a bloke who is on a journey

  12. Sorry, something went wrong there.
    cont.
    Deborah wrote
    “To further Harry’s cleansing, his judgements(as well as ours) upon the Dursleys, Snape, Draco, and others, will most likely be fully addressed in book 7. After all, Christians believe that judgement is reserved for “The Lord” and that it is required of us to ALWAYS forgive. So, to pass bad judgment upon ANY character, as well as JKR’s writing, at this point in the series would be premature and wrong in my oppinion.”

    While watching Star Wars should we consider Darth Vader as a bloke who is on a journey because we don’t know that he’ll have a redemption at the end. No. He is an evil character who we should judge as such because of his actions.

    But your point here is interisting as it presents a possible conclusion to the Harry Potter series. You write that we shouldn’t pass judgement on ANY character. What is the biggest judgement on any character by another character in the series? It is definately Harry’s judgement of Voldemort. Could Harry’s defeat of Voldemort stem from Harry’s possible forgiveness of him for the death of his parents?

    Sorry about the half post above

    Matt

  13. Matt: Your conclussion about Harry having to forgive LV for the death of his parents is a valid one. I would have to agree with you there on that. In fact, I was concidering whether that may have been one of the unanticipated ingrediants to Harry’s suriving the killing curse in the first place. Aside from the loving and willing sacrifice of his mother, who could have saved herself when offered to do so, she could have forgiven LV for his act simultaniously.

    As to the Dearth Vader thing, who says we HAVE to judge him. We do it because we are human and that is our tendancy. It makes for a good thriller. BUT, I might point out that it was the faith of Luke that his Father had good in him that helped him ultimately fulfil the prophecy of him “being the one” to defeat the Emperor. A redemption theme if I ever saw one before.

    I might add though, that being wary of an evil person does not necessarily mean that we have to pre-judge them. We judge as a defense mechanism. It keeps us on the right path in life, but hasty judgement is the defining sin that we are talking about here.

    Deborah

  14. …Correction. I meant to say passing HASTY judgements and/or putting a FIXED label on someone, without an open mind to the possibility of them having any good to them is the defining sin here. (Permanent judgement rather than temporary judgement.)If Luke had PERMINATELY labelled Dearth Vader “evil”, which he was at the time, and had not seen his POTENTIAL, Dearth Vader would have never been able to turn to the good side. Luke’s faith, open mind, and persistance in the welfare for his father was crucial to his father’s redemption here. (This would be lack of prejudice.)

    In the Harry Potter series, the story is told in such a way that we can’t help but make the same prejudices against Harry’s enemies. Because SO MUCH bad things are done by the bad guys, we take our judging instinct too far, just like we do in Star Wars. (We don’t just pass temporary protective judgement for our own welfare, we are casting PERMANENT AND FINAL judgements though.) This is precisely what JKR is wanting us to do. And, to take things one step further, she doesn’t just want us to watch Harry learn this before mentioned distinction…she wants the reader to also. Whereas Star Wars opens our eyes to possibilities, the HP series opens our hearts and minds in a slightly more personal way.

  15. …Correction. I meant to say passing HASTY judgements and/or putting a FIXED label on someone, without an open mind to the possibility of them having any good to them is the defining sin here. (Permanent judgement rather than temporary judgement.)If Luke had PERMINATELY labelled Dearth Vader “evil”, which he was at the time, and had not seen his POTENTIAL, Dearth Vader would have never been able to turn to the good side. Luke’s faith, open mind, and persistance in the welfare for his father was crucial to his father’s redemption here. (This would be lack of prejudice.)

    In the Harry Potter series, the story is told in such a way that we can’t help but make the same prejudices against Harry’s enemies. Because SO MUCH bad things are done by the bad guys, we take our judging instinct too far, just like we do in Star Wars. (We don’t just pass temporary protective judgement for our own welfare, we are casting PERMANENT AND FINAL judgements though.) This is precisely what JKR is wanting us to do. And, to take things one step further, she doesn’t just want us to watch Harry learn this before mentioned distinction…she wants the reader to also. Whereas Star Wars opens our eyes to possibilities, the HP series opens our hearts and minds in a slightly more personal way.

  16. C.S. Lewis was a Christian long before the Chronicles were written. I feel the need to explain that yes, the Chronicles contain Christian themes and moral/ethical themes; but they are also a fairy tale. Example: Chapter 1 of Magician’s Nephew – Jack references Sherlock Holmes and Baker Street, and he introduces many ficitional characters from many mythologies because I believe at this time period when he wrote these wonderful books children knew these legends and myths – keep in mind Lewis loved literature with a passion and any young curious reader would love the appeal of Greek Myths and legends. I know I did when I was a child; but I do know that that the characters of the the Pevensie children, Caspian, Shift the Ape and Jadis the White Witch are just simply fairy tale characters that tell a story…also Lewis always incorporated his personal beliefs in his work. In other words, don’t judge the book word for word (meaning don’t analyze it) yes, there are Chrisitan meanings but they are not sermons or Sunday School material but also they are not advocating pagan worship or practice. I’ll leave you with what Professor Digory was told when he was a boy by his uncle Andrew “What do they teach you in schools these days?”

  17. P.S.- Concerning Harry Potter – it’s ashame that any person would compare Harry Potter with the Chronicles of Narnia…I do like the Harry Potter sereis don’t get me wrong…but to compare these two would be a shame.

  18. Yeah,
    Why a shame?

    I feel that they are definately comparable. They are both using fairytale and mythic archtypes and devices to delight, inform and educate young and older readers. They have a clear Christian world-view, will consist of 7 volumes, many of the same symbols and mythic creatures are used for the same purposes, have been made into movies…(peh..), encourage young readers to enjoy literature. Even your quote from Prof. Diggory is addressed by Rowling through Dumbledore risisting the Ministry of Magic’s involvement in Hogwarts’ curriculum. I think that “What do they teach you in schools these days?” is one of the prime reasons that Rowling has written these books!

    Matt

  19. Actually Lewis was an occultis at one point in his life. This does not at all make him bad. In fact if christians would awaken to the idea that they are not the only ones going to heaven we would not even be having this conversation. Lewis and rowlings are fabulous writers. Maybe they were just trying to make people realize as i said Christianity is not the only way. Of course there so brainwashed that its impossible to explain without terrible backlash and arguments. People go to heaven that are not christian. In fact relgion in general has much pagan history and so do all christian holidays. All religions have good and evil people its not the religion that determines what happens in the afterlife its the individual.
    So for the antichristian writings of both authors in question…BRAVO.

  20. In fact Jesus even told hid disciples.
    “To you it has been given to know the mysteries of the kingdom of god, but to the rest it has been given in parables, that seeing they may not see and hearing they may not understand”. So you see the bible also has hidden meanings and parables.

  21. Sirius, wow, so much to say here. First, if C.S. Lewis was ever a pagan, you’re going to have to provide some serious evidence. Lewis went from Christian to atheist to theist to devout Christian.

    Second, I am not arguing here (and neither does anyone else who is sane) that Lewis or Rowling were/are “antiChristian” in their writing. I’m arguing just the opposite. Lewis and Rowling are using other mythologies to tell the Christian story.

    Lewis believed that there were similarities between Christianity and other religions because other religions contained part of the truth of Christianity, but not the whole truth. Christianity was the one “true myth.”

    You wrote, “Of course there so brainwashed that its impossible to explain without terrible backlash and arguments.”

    Funny. You seem more intolerant here than the people you’re railing against. You may be quite surprised to learn that there are a lot of really intelligent people who honestly believe Jesus is the only way.

    You wrote, “In fact if christians would awaken to the idea that they are not the only ones going to heaven we would not even be having this conversation.”

    Once again, this is horribly intolerant, isn’t it? You’re saying, “If Christians would just think like I do, we wouldn’t have to argue.” How convenient for you. What if I said, “If people would just realize that Jesus was the only way, we wouldn’t be having this conversation”?

    This is not the place to debate religion, of course; we could find plenty of other places to do that. But this is also not the place to come and rail on Christianity, being that this is a blog that approaches Harry Potter from a Christian perspective.

    Finally, as a student of theology, allow me to kindly suggest that pulling a random statement of Jesus out of its context to prove your point is a really bad idea. Jesus’ words that you quoted did not mean that there are “hidden meanings” in the Bible, but that at that particular time in history, only the disciples were given a clear understanding of some of Jesus’ teachings. They were clearly explained by his disciples later, which is what the New Testament actually is.

  22. Let’s take the story as it is. An entertaining fable meant to entertain children (and in Harry Potter’s case) young adults. I don’t think anyone is going to run out and worship pagan gods or join the neighborhood coven under the influence of these two books.

  23. Well, and I’d add more than just “to entertain.” They are both moral stories, after all.

    Glad to see people are still discovering the site’s older articles, by the way.

  24. another point i liek to put forth is that if it hadnt been for Tolkien and Lewis, JKR wouldnt not have got her ideas……. there are all great authors in their own times….

  25. I found several “articles” on the internet about Lewis’ so-called occult involvement – they are totally without documentation or anything else remotely resembling authenticity. It’s sad that people make such broad statements without first checking their facts.

  26. I personaly think its a load of crap. ive read the narnia books over and over again and everything about it is for christianity. that part with tumnus telling lucy about the golden days is not talking about bacchus worship.

  27. Did I really write this article that poorly? Or are people reading it that poorly? It’s not a “load of crap” that Lewis utilized pagan gods and goddesses. It’s only a “load of crap” that someone might argue that the books are less Christian because of it.

  28. No, Travis, it’s not you. I got it. I’ve just been too tied up with other things and didn’t take the time to comment.

    What Rowling and Lewis both do is make use of a very rich literary history. I also wonder–is it possible to make some sort of connection with Lewis and his use of Bacchus to the idea that as Christians we live in the world but we are still to remain separate? Probably too much of a stretch, I’m sure. But it is the thing that popped in my mind.

    At any rate, when talking with children about books–which seems to be the whole reason some parents are so anti-whatever-book–having characters such as Bacchus or some of the moral questions that Rowling throws in, gives a parent the perfect opportunity to do some teaching. The author has brought it up and a careful thoughtful parent can now discuss a Biblical point of view without seeming to beat the child over the head with the Bible. I used to do that a lot with my girls when they were younger–mostly with TV shows or movies they wanted to see. By watching–or reading–together, parent and child can have some marvelous, insightful, and instructive conversations. And that’s always sends a better message to a child than book banning.

    So, was that where you were going, or did I miss it also? Perhaps you just need to add one more clarifying paragraph.

    Pat

  29. Travis,

    I think you expressed yourself clearly: that it’s contradictory of people to accept Tolkien and Lewis without quibbling over their use of pagan symbols and characters, but to reject Rowling for the same.

    However, I can see that if someone scanned your article, and perhaps carefully read only your second to last paragraph, they might get the impression that you were actually saying both Rowling and Lewis were encouraging children to become drunkards and dabble in occult practices.

    I have noticed that it’s wise, when talking about red-button topics, to be as painstakingly clear and obvious as possible. This is because people bring a lot of emotion into those topics, and quickly jump to conclusions. It just goes with the territory.

    Your writings are particularly vulnerable to misinterpretation because you are combining a degree in theology with a degree in literature. So be prepared to get it from both sides. The devout literalists will accuse you of ungodliness, while the literary intelligensia will accuse you of religious bias.

    Being misunderstood will be the least of your worries.

    BTW, I don’t think Lewis’ mishmash of mythical and pagan and Christian characters and symbology works. I don’t think Bacchus and fauns, and dwarves and giants and talking beavers and wolves, and Father Christmas and a Christ-figure work very convincingly together. But my dislike is due to stylistic reasons. Nothing wrong with everything but the kitchen sink style if you can make it work – like Rowling. I just don’t think Lewis carries it off very well.

  30. Pat and reyhan, thanks for your thoughts.

    reyhan, yeah, that was Tolkien’s complaint, too. And there is a difference even between Lewis and Rowling. Rowling pulls from a wide variety of mythologies as well, but she translates them into her own world. In other words, she doesn’t just plop Cerberus down at Hogwarts. She recreates him as Fluffy.

    I’m told that Michael Ward’s Planet Narnia changes the way one reads Narnia altogether. I’ve gotten started on the book, but I didn’t get very far, having a crazy reading list.

    I was trying to figure out why this old article was suddenly getting hits. Prince Caspian, the movie, comes out in a month.

  31. Oh, Travis, what a rich vein you’ve tapped there.

    Cerberus as Fluffy.

    Fleur as a Siren (or Circe?)

    Harry as Odysseus?

    Professor McGonogall as Athena?

    Dumbledore as Zeus?

    Voldemort as Hades?

    Grindelwald as Hermes?

    Sibyl Trelawney as Cassandra or the Delphic Sibyl (no brainer, I know)

  32. Reyhan –

    you strike some interesting comparisons here, but I do not agree with all of them.

    Voldemort as Hades ? How can Voldemort be as the god of Hades when he is trying to cheat and evade death ? I would equate him more with the God of war – Ares.

    Dumbledore as Zeus ? Zeus might be the supreme God on Olympus but you do realise that Zeus is not that benevolent ?

    McGonagall as Athena ? I’m just going to let you elaborate on that one before I comment….

    Great, you’ve just struck gold with me 🙂

  33. Travis wrote:
    “Rowling pulls from a wide variety of mythologies as well, but she translates them into her own world. In other words, she doesn’t just plop Cerberus down at Hogwarts. She recreates him as Fluffy.”

    Which is why one shouldn’t judge Lewis based on the Chronicles of Narnia, which, while I love them dearly, clearly aren’t his best work. To see him do what Rowling has done, one has to read Till We Have Faces.

    I know I keep harping on that book, but one can’t give a fair estimation of Lewis based solely on his children’s books. Till We Have Faces & many of his apologetic works are where to look to find the genius of Lewis.

    I know you’re not doing that, Travis, but the tone of some these threads on Lewis & Rowling seems to be a constant denigration of Lewis & exaltation of Rowling.

  34. revgeorge, my wife has read Till We Have Faces. She actually likes Narnia a lot more.

    But in any case, here are a few thoughts: Folks for a long time have agreed with Tolkien’s criticism of Lewis on this point. Tolkien would not make the same criticism of Rowling (even if he might have others), because Rowling does what Lewis does not: she translates/transforms the myth into her own story. I’ll have to read Till We Have Faces to see Lewis at work on this.

    But again, I want to make the point that many, many Lewis scholars are calling Planet Narnia absolutely ground-breaking, scholarship-changing work. Ward argues that there always was a secret organizing principle to Narnia; it just hasn’t been discovered till now, because Lewis never let his secret out (a literary practice that he exonerated). I’m really looking forward to digesting Ward’s book when I have a little more time.

  35. revgeorge,]

    I will take the blame for putting down Lewis. I will cheerfully take the blame for exalting Rowling (well, singing her praises at any event) but not at the expense of Lewis.

    Here is my explanation.

    I have only read two of Lewis’ works (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and the Screwtape Letters). You will not hear me criticizing the Screwtape Letters – not only is its agenda clearly acknowledged, I met it under circumstances when I was looking for something to fill a need, and it served that need very well.

    But I have found problems with the Lion et al and shared them on these posts. I won’t repeat them. This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the book. My seven year old asked me yesterday what I liked best about the book. With very little reflecton I said I liked the passages between Lucy and Mr. Tumnus, and the scene with Father Christmas. I find both scenes beautiful and magical, working both at the surface level and yet fraught with a deeper meaning. If it could all be like that, then I would consider Lewis a master magician indeed.

    Being a boy, of course, my seven year old has his own favorite scenes. He loves Peter, loves the gifts that Father Christmas gives him, and loves the battle scenes.

  36. reyhan,

    Thanks for your follow up comments.

    I have no problem with a criticism of Lewis. I have a few myself. I just thought the tenor of things was Lewis bad, Rowling good, to the total detriment of Lewis.

    Lewis tends to get defined by Narnia, when there’s so much more out there by him, including some very perceptive & prophetic works.

    As much as I love Harry Potter & admire Rowling’s work, the fact remains that her work is also not free from criticism & also, so far, she has no corpus of work to judge her by. Who knows, she may come out with something in the future that makes us go, Wow, what were we thinking that HP was her best work!

    I doubt that’ll happen, but we’ll never know how to truly rank her work & her place in literature until she produces more. Until then, she remains a one hit wonder. And that’s not to say her work isn’t good or meaningful or successful, many one hit wonders are all those things. It just means they never were able to duplicate their success. I hope that is not Rowling’s fate as an author.

    Just some thoughts, & I appreciate your thoughts as well.

  37. When the body of Lewis’s work gets placed against the body of Rowling’s work (whenever she is gone from us), my guess is that Lewis’s will last longer. But, then, Rowling probably won’t ever take to writing theology.

    Before making any decision about Narnia vs. Potter (either now or the long run), I really do need to read Ward’s book first.

  38. Victoria,

    Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, virgin goddess.

    Minerva McGonagall, professor, teacher, Dumbledore’s advisor, with no hint of sexuality past, present or future.

    Minerva, the Roman equivalent of Athena.

    Works for me.

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