Liam Neeson — great voice, little brain

Liam Neeson, who does the voice of Aslan the Lion in the Narnia movies, has upset people by claiming that Aslan could as easily be Allah or Buddha as he could be Christ:

Ahead of the release of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader next Thursday, Neeson said: ‘Aslan symbolises a Christ-like figure but he also symbolises for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.

‘That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids — that’s what he means for me.’

Apparently, despite providing Aslan’s voice, Neeson never read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, nor saw the movie, both of which are pretty accurate allegories for the crucifixion and resurrection.

Still, one can see where someone raised on a steady diet of cultural relativism might try to morph all religious figures into one big loving God-like thingie. The problem is that C.S. Lewis explicitly rejected this approach in his last Narnia book. Instead, he made it clear that there is only one God and that’s the Christian God.

In the Narnia series, my favorite book has come to be The Last Battle – which is the Biblical end of the world, Narnia style. Within that book, my favorite scenes take place after the Apocalypse, when the saved are in the Narnia version of Heaven.

When the heroes and heroines of past books arrive in their Heaven, they find there a Calormene. Caloremenes are Narnian’s arch enemies (and, interesting, given that the book was written in the 1950s, are clearly modeled on Muslims out of the Arabian nights). They reject Aslan (the Jesus figure) and instead worship Tash, an evil figure who is clearly meant to be the equivalent of Satan. In other words, it’s highly probable that Lewis viewed Allah as a Satanic figure or, certainly, the un-God.

The Calormene’s presence in Heaven is, therefore, unexpected. It turns out, however, that the Calormene is an exceptionally honorable character who believes in Tash because he was raised to, but whose values are clearly in line with Aslan’s. Accordingly, when he arrives in Heaven, Aslan welcomes him, assuring him that all of his good acts by-passed Tash and were accorded directly to Aslan – hence his place in Heaven.

Lewis’ point, of course, is that the Christian God — Aslan or Jesus — focuses on man’s acts and is readily able to separate the wheat from the chaff. True religions encourage good behavior, but it is up to God in the afterlife to determine whether any individual actually “got it right” in terms of moral choices. God also has sufficient self-assurance to accept that some might not appear to accord him the proper respect on earth, because God looks at deep acts and beliefs, not superficial behaviors.

So Liam Neeson is totally wrong when he tries to morph Aslan/Jesus/Christian God into some generic good deity. In the C.S. Lewis world, God is always God. The only question is whether we humans have met his standards, not whether he has met ours.

Cross-posted at Bookworm Room

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