Monthly Archives: October 2010

Narnia

I had a friend yell at me because I have not yet seen any of the Narnia movies. It’s true. I haven’t seen them. And I don’t plan to. I like movies, don’t get me wrong, and I like faithful movie adaptations of novels. But I cannot bring myself to watch the Narnia movies. I don’t want to compromise the picture of Narnia I have in my head. One of my favourite memories of reading the Narnia series was letting my imagination run away with itself. In my imagination I entered the land of Narnia. I could smell it, taste it, feel it. I don’t want anything to disturb those memories.

There is an interesting article about how the Narnia movies miss the point of C.S. Lewis’ stories. And seeing the trailer for Dawn Treader, I wonder if they’ve missed the point in this new movie as well.

Steven Boyer, in writing about how the movies get it wrong, says this:

The Peter we meet in the film version of Prince Caspian is a very different Peter from the one we saw grow up in the earlier film and certainly very different from the one in Lewis’s story. In the first place, it is hard to describe Hollywood’s Peter as anything other than a bumbler. He is not part of the deliverance that comes from the blowing of Queen Susan’s magic horn. He is instead part of the problem, a stupid, proud, boorish, arrogant fool who speaks and acts with ridiculous vanity and, far from delivering others, needs to be delivered himself. His arrogance and vanity are explicitly highlighted in the film:

• We first encounter Peter as the cause of a brawl in a London subway, which he started simply because someone bumped him.
• Once in Narnia, Peter sets out to lead the other children and gets hopelessly lost, but he keeps insisting (with stereotypical male vanity), “I’m not lost,” “We weren’t lost,” etc.
• When he finally assumes command of the Narnians and then is confronted by Lucy, who tries to talk sense into him and get him to wait patiently for Aslan, he condescendingly replies, “I think it’s up to us now. . . . We’ve waited for Aslan long enough.”
• In the enemy castle, in the midst of their failed attack, Peter stupidly and obstinately refuses to call for retreat, crying out instead, “No, I can still do this!”—which prompts Susan to ask, “Exactly who are you doing this for, Peter?”
These instances could easily be multiplied. At every point, the Peter of Hollywood’s Prince Caspian is the problem, not the solution. The high king of Narnia seems to have devolved into a young, handsome version of Homer Simpson…
In Lewis’s telling of all of the Narnia tales, the children’s experiences as kings and queens in Narnia consistently transform them into nobler, more virtuous people in their own world. They are not spoiled children wanting to be kings again; they are noble kings who carry that very nobility back into their non-royal roles as schoolchildren.
But not so in Hollywood. To be a king at all is to hunger for power forevermore, like a tiger that has tasted human blood and ever afterwards is a “man-eater.” To lose imperial power by being transported back to England is to become a bitter, sullen, acrimonious brat. That is just what Peter has become, and his folly is the driving force behind most of the action in the movie.

I was struck by Peter’s above-noted comment, “I think it’s up to us now. . . . We’ve waited for Aslan long enough.” A certain king in the Old Testament said the same thing about waiting for the prophet Samuel to come and offer the sacrifice, that the foolish king chose to go ahead and do it himself. In Scripture, this impatience led to the withdrawal of the Lord’s favour, and ultimately to disaster for the royal house (1 Samuel 13:1-14).

And so, not only do I not want to see the Narnia movies for fear of smashing the picture in my head, I am also hesitant to see them if they miss the whole point of the Narnia series altogether.

Random Blog Posts and Stuff

Mark Driscoll is causing controversy again (surprise, surprise), this time over whether or not a man can stay home with the kids while the wife works. John Stackhouse and Ben Witherington both take Driscoll’s exegesis to task. Brian LePort ponders the relevance of Driscoll having been a graduate of Western Seminary. Marc Cortez summarizes the issue here.

My question: if a trusted mentor of Mark Driscoll points out his exegetical error, would Mark apologize for his remarks? (I say a trusted mentor since I doubt he would listen to much, if any, of the blog chatter on this issue, even it does come from several highly respected academics).

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Ever wonder why Christianity is always Catholic on television? TV Tropes has the answer!

…maybe it’s because the costumes of Roman Catholic clerics are so quaint and distinctive, perhaps it’s the fascination of the mystery and ritual, perhaps it’s that our sex-obsessed society is bewildered by the thought of men taking a vow of chastity, or that ornate Catholic churches make the best sets, or the usefulness of the sacrament of confession as a narrative device. Or maybe it’s just hard to associate Southern Baptists with Ominous Latin Chanting. Another possibility is that Catholicism is simply a more visible form of Christianity in the bicoastal urban milieu in which most writers work. Not to mention that a not-inconsiderable number of writers are Catholics or ex-Catholics themselves, and may just find it easier to write what they know.

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If you’re in southern Saskatchewan, or want to come to southern Saskatchewan for a week, Dr. Guretzki is teaching a week-long modular on the Theology of Karl Barth, the first week of January. It’s going to be a great class! Check out the syllabus over at Guretzki’s blog.

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For your Friday viewing pleasure, check out this cute cat hunting its prey.

Even More Canadian Christian Blogs

The full list of Canadian Christian blogs can be found here.

A couple of new ones to add to the list:

The Eagle and Child by Marc Vandersluys. Marc is an M.Div student out at Providence Seminary in Manitoba.

Who Wants to Be a Registrar? by Grant MacMillan. Grant works at Trinity Western University (and Briercrest prior to that).

How Do You Read?


I’m gearing up for a couple of classes. So, I am knee-deep in pre-course reading and in preliminary research for my papers. The classes at Briercrest are in modular format, meaning that you take one class in an entire week-long intensive. In many ways it is great for those who have work/life commitments, but in some ways it changes how a student studies.

The work-load goes something like this:
Pre-course Reading
Pre-course assignment, usually interacting/reviewing/critiquing one of the assigned reading materials
Week-long lectures
Post-course assignments, usually a major research paper.

I have found that I have had to adapt my learning style and study habits to match this modular format. Gone are the days of doing weekly readings in advance of a weekly class. Instead, I find myself buried in reading material all at once.

What this has highlighted to me is that I read to gain knowledge, to learn; I don’t read to evaluate and critique. And unfortunately most of the pre-course assignments require a critique/evaluation method of reading.

Why do I do this? Part of it is probably because very often the course subject is new to me. For example, when I took “Gospels” I had never read N.T. Wright’s “Jesus and the Victory of God”, nor had I really done much studying in the field of the Quest for the Historical Jesus.

I think that I have this assumption that the text I am reading is correct. The person who has written the book, journal article etc is a) highly educated; b) usually an expert in the field; c) aware of arguments and counter-arguments surrounding the given topic. I then assume that the author is correct, and that it is my job to absorb the knowledge that they have spent so much time and effort in putting together.

Unless the author says something completely bone-headed, I am not very good at finding nuances in the argument to disagree with/critique/evaluate. Even if I am reading two or three different positions on the same topic, I tend to not take sides, recognizing that very often each of the different positions have something of value. (Is this a symptom of growing up in a post-modern culture?)

So I read the material, struggle with the reflection paper, and then once we have discussed the issues in class discussions, the light-bulb goes on, I have my “ah-ha” moment and I find myself being able to better say, “I agree/I disagree and here’s why.”

While I realize that the pre-course assignment is a way to ensure that the students actually come to class prepared, I wish that there was a better way to evaluate preparedness, rather than a paper done in isolation.

I’m pretty sure much of this comes out of the fact that I tend to be an “auditory” learner. I learn and retain and can synthesize information better when I hear it in lecture format, and in discussing/wrestling through the material orally in a discussion format.

How do you read?

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This post is cross-posted at Briercrest Student Blogs.

Blogging Through Bloesch

in Chapter eight “The Biblical-Classical Synthesis”, Bloesch discusses the difference between grace and merit. Of particular interest is his comparison of Heroism and Sainthood.

Heroism…
…”celebrates human virtue.”

Sainthood…
…”witnesses to divine grace.”

Heroism…
…”calls people to achieve their maximum potential.”

Sainthood…
…”asks that people simply do what is required of them by God, even if this means being content with leading lives of humdrum existence outside the limelight.”

Heroism…
…”has a natural affinity with a theology of merit.”

Sainthood…
…”in the biblical sense can be truly appreciated only in a theology of grace.”
(Donald Bloesch, God the Almighty, pg 228)

Has the North American church gotten heroism and sainthood mixed up? How?
In an age of super-star celebrity pastors, how do we extol the virtues of sainthood over heroism?

The Annual Halloween and Christians Hoopla

Tis the season for Christians to discuss Halloween. Check out Joe Carter’s piece, and C. Michael Patton’s piece.

It will be interesting to experience Halloween in Caronport. This village has had a mixed relationship with Halloween over the years. Currently those who want to participate will turn on their porch lights and/or put out a jack o’lantern, while those who do not wish to participate will leave their porch dark.

Our house will be giving out candy, and thus our porch light will be on. I won’t have a real jack o’lantern, but that’s only because I don’t feel like getting messy with the scooping and the scrapping, so instead I bought a light-up foam pumpkin from Walmart.

I will admit that Halloween is not my favourite holiday. This is not because of religious conviction, because even when I was a kid and not a Christian, Halloween ranked a giant “meh” on my holiday list.

Don’t get me wrong, I liked dressing up. But the introvert in me really didn’t like going from door to door asking for candy. That, and it is usually cold and gray and rainy on Halloween so I’d usually come home wet and cold. And having to be able to wear layers (or even snowsuits) under a costume severely limited the creativity of the costumes I could wear.

But now I am an adult, and I can stay in my nice, warm house and just hand out candy. When the candy dish is empty, I can turn off the porch light, bring in the pumpkin and be done for the evening.

A Fresh Perspective on Creation

I’ve been following RJS’ posts over at Jesus Creed as she works through the book, Theology After Darwin.

Now because the posts come from a scientific perspective, I admit that many times I am in over my head. I am not a scientist. I am not even scientifically-minded. But the conversation is important, so I muddle through. I also know that I don’t have all the answers. Do I believe that God created the world? Absolutely. Do I know how or when He did it? Nope.

Theologically, I tend (though not absolutely) to lean towards the Eastern Orthodox paradigm of Creation–Incarnation–Re-creation, rather than the Reformed paradigm of Creation–Fall–Redemption, (mostly because the EO paradigm seems to keep the emphasis on God rather than focusing on humanity). God is the Creator God. This I affirm and see evidence of every day.

Evangelicals in North America, I think, are struggling too much over the “how”. Why can’t we focus on the “why”?

Anyway, I came across this in my reading yesterday, and it just gave me a different perspective on the issue of creation.

This is from The Magician’s Nephew. Uncle Andrew and the others are witnessing the creation of Narnia.

When the great moment came and the Beasts spoke, [Uncle Andrew] missed the whole point; for a rather interesting reason. When the Lion had first begun singing, long ago when it was still quite dark, he had realized that the noise was a song. And he had disliked the song very much. It made him think and feel things he did not want to think and feel. Then, when the sun rose and he saw that the singer was a lion…he tried his hardest to make himself believe that it wasn’t singing and never had been singing — only roaring as any lion might in a zoo in our own world…
And the longer and more beautifully the lion sang, the harder Uncle Andrew tried to make himself believe that he could hear nothing but roaring. Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed. Uncle Andrew did. He soon did hear nothing but roaring in Aslan’s song. Soon he couldn’t have heard anything else even if he wanted to. And when at last the Lion spoke and said, “Narnia awake,” he didn’t hear any words: he heard only a snarl.

C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew, pg 116-117.

Christianity in Quebec

There’s an interesting article in this weekend’s Globe and Mail about Quebec’s interesting relationship with Catholicism. Even though Quebec is almost thoroughly secular, there is a place for the Church, if only from a “it’s a part of our heritage and culture” perspective.

Currently less than 15% of the population attend church regularly, but 83% identify as Catholic.

From the article:

Roman Catholicism in the province is the tribal faith of empty churches with a newly minted saint for a kind of mascot.
“Quebeckers are faithful to a religion they no longer believe in,” says David Seljak, chair of religious studies at St. Jerome’s University in Waterloo, Ont., who did his doctoral dissertation on the church in Quebec “And as conservative evangelists have discovered, they’re absolutely conversion-proof…Scholars who study religion in Quebec agree that Roman Catholicism has become cemented into the province’s folkloric history. It’s likely more cultural heritage than religion, but exactly what it is remains a mystery.”