Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Berserker » Nov 15, 2010 10:02 am

C.S. Lewis, like his contemporary Tolkien, was a Christianized remnant of the Romantic Era. Though he was not as much of a luddite as Tolkien, it's clear that he deliberately chose Narnia as a symbol of natural creation (being a theistic evolutionist) and the antithesis of industrialization and militarism, and saw great sadness in the wanton destruction of nature and animals alike. He even nods to segments of non-Christian mythology that seemed to uphold such a worldview by including characters like fauns and Bacchus within the narrative (though his reasons for this have been touched on in greater length in other threads.)

For Lewis, "environmentalism" was quite different from the polarizing scientific mess that we associate with the term today. His was a cosmic theology: both man and nature were intertwined in the fabric of a grand design, and for the necessity of creation, both should be preserved. This was not merely a moral imperative, but a matter of natural law. As a result, his works pre-date the type of reactionary political Christianity so prevalent in the media.

Where do Lewis's views fit for the post-modern Christian, the type of Christian overshadowed by billboards and bullhorns, whose values fall into perpetual conflict between the political left and right? Where has the transcendental Christian gone, now that his message seems more important than ever?

I fear that modern interpretations of the Chronicles of Narnia purposefully ignore C.S. Lewis's cosmic theology and environmentalism for fear of inciting political backlash. Would we rather subscribe to overly simplified notions of "good versus evil" and pop-culture representations of Christian theology? Lewis's works are more potent than that. Likewise, I fear that future works of Narnia media (like movies) may stray too far into post-modern environmentalism and adopt a political "Avatar"-ish defense of ecology. Is it that hard to get right?
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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby MagnificentKing » Nov 15, 2010 6:39 pm

I agree with a lot of your post. It reminds me how even though i believe in creationism. Evolution does happen and animals do adapt to their environment. But that doesn't mean they can change into new animals if you have a lemon tree you are still going to get a lemon you won't ever get an apple. Sorry i know that is slightly off topic but that is just what your post made me think about.

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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Berserker » Nov 15, 2010 8:52 pm

MagnificentKing wrote:I agree with a lot of your post. It reminds me how even though i believe in creationism. Evolution does happen and animals do adapt to their environment. But that doesn't mean they can change into new animals if you have a lemon tree you are still going to get a lemon you won't ever get an apple. Sorry i know that is slightly off topic but that is just what your post made me think about.


That's not quite what evolution is about, and it is somewhat off topic, but I'm glad I got you thinking.
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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Aravis Narnia » Nov 16, 2010 6:03 am

I do think they go hand in hand very well. Taking care of our planet and using natural resources responsibly definitely are taught and encouraged by all major Christian denominations (and by pretty much every religion).
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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Lirenel » Dec 09, 2010 10:26 pm

Well, of all the books I would have to say PC has the most 'environmental' images- the trees sleep because of the influx of Telmarines who fear them, cut them down, and build bridges and things. And the movie definitely didn't go into any of that, really. I wouldn't say, actually, that the Chronicles espouse any great environmental message, though I guess Magician's Nephew *does* have the scene where King Frank and Queen Helen are told to be good stewards of Narnia and the Animals (and Dryads and such). So maybe *that* is the biggest environmental message. It's not on par with Tolkien's Ents versus Saruman's industrialization, but still close to the Christian belief in managing the natural world, treating the world well but the world is still subject to humanity.

Does that make sense?
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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Ithilwen » Dec 12, 2010 4:14 am

^^ It makes perfect sense to me. :)

I always viewed Lewis's inclusion of nature and preserving nature as a reference to us sort of being closest to God when we are in nature. Not that nature is God or that we should worship it or anything. But what we call "nature" really is what God actually created, and what we now call "most of the world" is what we humans have made. Nature -- forests, rivers, cliffs, etc. is closest to the world God actually designed.


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Re: Narnian environmentalism and modern Christianity

Postby Cineadh » Dec 14, 2010 2:40 pm

I found a rather interesting article that might shed a bit better light on Lewis's stance on the matter. Granted, his quotes come from another of his works, The Abolition of Man, but it might prove to be helpful in where this discussion is going.

http://www.frontporchrepublic.com/2009/07/%E2%80%9Cenvironmentalism%E2%80%9D-in-context-a-reminder-from-cs-lewis/
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