I've already bought my ticket for the opening of Narnia. I learned my lesson after Star Wars III and The Return of the King--when all those fantasy nerds were lined up around the block and I had to sit in the front row with my neck bent at a nearly lethal angle. We'll get there early this time...dressed as the Beavers.
I have loved the Chronicles of Narnia since I was a boy and fell in love with the stories again when I read them a few years ago. That there might be another world behind a closet door, or in a nautical painting, or even in the very air around a train station has been an idea that's kept me dreaming. How many hours have I spent at the edge of the world, where the sea ends and the light of Aslan's country shines bright--at work or school or in the middle of a conversation? Narnia is a place I can visit when ever I want. I just have to let my mind wander. And in that sense, Lewis really has created for millions, a refuge--a wood between worlds.
Now Narnia is the hot topic. It is everywhere posters, advertisements, articles, bookstores. Part of me says, great! A whole new generation introduced to an enchanting fantasy. But another part of me is jealous, wants to hold on to the story for myself. That is the snob in me. But it goes beyond snobbery. I fear that Narnia will just become politicized like everything else. Just like my faith. And there are signs that it already is.
Today, in USA Today, accompanying the cover story, is a big picture of Aslan in CGI with the caption, The King of Kings? I had to buy it. I read that an organization for the separation of church and state is up in arms because Jeb Bush put The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe on a state sponsored book list. While the Evangelicals are encouraging their congregations to flood the theaters and tell their children that Aslan is Christ. And while those two camps of boring people war with each other, advertisers and businesses are licking their lips, bringing in the green backs.
The theater has always been my refuge--a place where I can go see my favorite stories come to life, where I can sit in the dark eating greasy pop corn and escape reality for a few hours, allowing the world to melt away, fully immersed in fantasy. There is also a social aspect to the theater that isn’t part of the reading process. It is a place where you can share a fictional world with a group of people in real time--where everyone is on the same wave length; alone and together at once.
The groups of people that I do not want to share my refuge with are evangelicals on a mission to convert and left wing intellectuals who deconstruct the movie out loud. I went and saw the Passion of the Christ and hated it. Not because it was a bad movie but because I felt like I was at church. I do not want to hear "halleluiah" when I am at the cinema. I do not want to receive bible tracks or green peace bumper stickers when I am standing in the ticket line. I just want to be left alone with my fellow nerds while eating milk duds. That's it.