Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

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

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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Savber100 » Dec 05, 2010 7:04 pm

Raticus wrote:Liam Neeson was expressing his own opinions and religious beliefs, and I think it's pretty immature and destructive to the credibility of Narnia and C.S Lewis to imply that all of a sudden these films are tainted by the notion that not everyone involved in the project agrees with Lewis's world view and interpretation of his characters albeit if is other than the original intent. Also the thread title seems to suggest that Neeson is saying that Aslan is Mohammed (why leave out Buddha and other spiritual leaders?) rather than symbolizes him in some aspects as he implied.


By no means am I saying the films are now "tainted" because of differing interpretations, I'll clarify my previous statement as I'm more wondering whether the spiritual themes could have been stronger if the actors and filmmakers firmly believed in the original interpretation of what Lewis was portraying since people have mentioned that some scenes like Aslan's sacrifice seem 'watered down' in comparison to the book.

Also, I apologize if the thread title was offensive, it was NOT my intention to aggravate or incite anger against Nesson as I wrote with the impression given by the article linked. But I see your point and I'll change the words to a more neutral tone.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Valiant » Dec 05, 2010 7:40 pm

Yes, Aslan is supposed to represent Christ. Christ is not a merely a prophet, and that is something Lewis argued against himself.

But what I think Mr. Neeson means is that Aslan can represent other great leaders in other religions. There are a few problems with this as he mentions prophets and not gods. However Christ was a teacher, as Aslan is, and in that sense, yes Aslan is similar to other figures.

I hope this is what he honestly believes and that he is not just saying this to make the film appear less Christian.

I think its fine to see certain qualities in Aslan to other figures. However, the film makers should definately have Christ in mind when it comes to the movies. As well, they should have the perspective when it comes to the film that Christ is God, not a mere human prophet.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby skilletfreak291 » Dec 06, 2010 1:21 pm

with all due respect, we must pray for him and let God do the rest! ;)
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Gilby's Angel » Dec 06, 2010 4:41 pm

I think it's unfortunate that Mr. Nesson made what appears to be a rather flippant response to such a loaded (intended or not) question. First, the author of the Chronicles makes it quite clear Aslan is a Christ-figure. Aslan's experiences and actions in the series point to a Christ-figure. I am no expert in Islam or Buddhism...I don't believe either of their spiritual leaders was present when the earth was formed, sacrificed himself for another or is prophesied to be a major player in the ending of this world. Satan, himself, is a spiritual leader to some; however, I don't think anyone would equate him with Aslan. To suggest that Aslan represents any of a miriad of spiritual leaders is something of an afront to Christrianity. To Christians, Jesus is much more than a 'spititual leader', he is God incarnate. Even if those outside the Christian community do not agree, this belief makes Jesus different from these other 'spiritual leaders.' I don't believe Mr. Nesson meant to insult Christians. I believe his comments were 'off the cuff' and not well thought out. The lesson to learn is clear. Be careful what you say because once out of your mouth, the words can't be unsaid.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Lady Galadriel » Dec 07, 2010 12:14 pm

My two cents:

C.S. Lewis's intention of of Aslan's character is stated quite clearly that he is the Christ figure of the Chronicles. I don't believe Lewis meant for him to be interpreted in any other way besides this one:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which the Giant Despair represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality however he is an invention giving and imaginary answer to the question "What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?" This is not an allegory at all

- The letters of C.S. Lewis, paragraph 6, page 283.
(The above quote is taken from this thread. ;) I put in bold the part I want to emphasize.)

While I suppose Aslan could be interpreted differently according to different belief systems, I really think one should look at how Lewis intended his character to be taken.

Aslan is not just a prophet in the Chronicles, either. He is much more powerful than a prophet.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby 220chrisTian » Dec 07, 2010 1:21 pm

Georgie Henley defends Liam Neeson on Aslan. And she says other cast members were ‘very excited’ on hearing his view of Aslan at Thursday’s press conference…

http://thecatholicspirit.com/featured/n ... l-leaders/

Here's my article on it at Aslan's Country...

http://www.aslanscountry.com/2010/12/ge ... -on-aslan/

So does this revelation change members' perspective on Liam's comments?
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Lirenel » Dec 07, 2010 2:58 pm

This is a hard situation. I've mentioned some thoughts before, but a few new ones have popped up.

Literarally, that is, viewing the Chronicles as literature, I doubt there are any scholars who would suggest Aslan is anything other than a representation of Jesus. Basically all the metaphors and symbolism in the Chronicles are blatantly Christian, and the author himself specifically stated that Aslan is representative of Christ.

However, most people do not read the Chronicles as a work of literature. They read a story. There are people who don't know Christian symbolism at all, and so it passes right over their heads when they are reading it. Many people are just reading the Chronicles for the story - they are reading about four children who go into a magical world in a wardrobe which is rightfully ruled by a great Lion who makes them kings and queens under them. And, as with any story, people bring in their own interpretations of the characters. Perhaps they see Edmund as more of a Darth Vader character - someone who went from bad to good, instead of a repentant sinner (repentant sinner might not even be part of their vocabulary). And, if you don't know much about Christianity, Aslan can seem like an Obi-Wan-like figure, a powerful being who guides the heroes and dies and so on.

I think that's what Neeson and Georgie are saying. Not everyone views the Chronicles as literature, they are all bringing their own interpretations to a story.

There's a difference between someone's personal interpretation and someone making a movie or a book or writing a fanfiction of the book and all that. When writing an adaptation, you have to view the original source as the literature, as what the original author intended. You can't insert your own interpretation (beyond a slight minimum) because you are not writing for yourself, you are writing *in absentia* for the original author and have to follow, as best as possible, the original intent. How the viewers interpret the final movie/fanfication is up to them and can't be dictated by anyone else.

Does that make any sense?
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby beloved » Dec 08, 2010 5:24 pm

I think that as soon as you say something "is representing Christ and"

as soon as you say and you've hit a land mine (which will always explode into Tashlans). Christ is above and beyond any kind of comparison we can create, we can imagine, or we can read. Lewis said (I don't remember where) that Aslan was not to represent Christ as an allagory but as a hypothetical situation to how Christ would act within His own character in a fantastic land. Now I don't know exactly what Mr. Neeson said because I can't seem to get the movie to play, and frankly if others want to look at Aslan as nothing more than a great moral teacher, fine. That doesn't bother me in the slightest. If they say the same for Jesus that's a whole other issue all together and I have a whole slew of C. S. Lewis quotes to take them on with that one.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Lirenel » Dec 09, 2010 7:29 pm

*throws hands up* OK, I was able to see the reasoning behind Neeson's comments, but Mark Johnson's quote is so wrong to be ludicrous. That whole thing I wrote about literary versus personal experience? Yah, insert that here and add that Johnson definitely was commenting on the former with an ignorance that is outstanding.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Ithilwen » Dec 13, 2010 1:29 am

I think the filmmakers are most likely saying what they are saying for two reasons.

1. Christ doesn't have any place in their personal lives, but Narnia does. So they separate them.

2. They are trying to sell a movie. They want everyone to see it. And they are afraid that if they call it a Christian movie, then people who aren't Christians will say, "Oh, I'm not a Christian, so I can't see it".
Which many non-Christians would do if that were the case. (Which doesn't really make sense, considering I've seen plenty of movies that had elements concerning things I don't believe in -- evolution, eastern religions, etc.) But still, it is something that could happen. So the filmmakers are trying to make it as open as possible, as a precaution to not lose their audience.

As for what Liam Neeson said, I don't think he was referring to what he thought C.S. Lewis intended. I don't think he was analyzing the purpose of the books or the author. I think he was just stating how he personally views it. Which is fine. After all, I've read plenty of secular books which, to me, hold Christian messages, even though it was not what the author intended. So why shouldn't it work the opposite way?

Did C.S. Lewis intend Aslan to be Jesus Christ? Of course. Does that mean you have to view Aslan that way? No, not if you don't want to.
The way the author views it is not always how the reader views it. That's one of the best things about literature -- or all art. You can interpret it the way you want, and so, it will mean different things to different people. :)


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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Raticus » Dec 15, 2010 6:13 pm

It looks like Glenn Beck and the news media have really taken to this "controversy" around Liam Neeson's comments about Aslan. I really don't think this should be the type of attention a few comments about personal faith should be garnering.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby StarAsterisk » Dec 16, 2010 9:25 am

Aslan CLEARLY represents Jesus. I am surprised that anyone could think any different because all the things we know about Aslan point directly to Jesus. PLUS: C.S. Lewis was a Christian therefore it is immeasurably doubtful that he would portray Aslan as Buddha or something. Mr. Neeson: with all due respect you are misinformed, study a little more before making drastic conclusions.


Lilygloves wrote:I am not sure if there is any other major religion (correct me if I am wrong) that has a god sacrifice for his people, instead of the other way around. It would be very hard to connect Aslan to any other religious figure.

Wow. Very good point.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby Lilygloves » Dec 19, 2010 11:05 pm

I feel that Liam Neeson looked for ways to connect Aslan to his personal religions. Aslan is obviously symbolism for Jesus, and it would be hard to argue that he means anyone else. I am not sure if there is any other major religion (correct me if I am wrong) that has a god sacrifice for his people, instead of the other way around. It would be very hard to connect Aslan to any other religious figure.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby MyBubble » Dec 20, 2010 8:15 pm

I disagree with Mr. Neeson. Aslan did something that no spiritual leader except Christ has done. Aslan died to save Edmund which is symbolic of Christ dying to redeem mankind. Did Muhammed and Buddha sacrifice themselves for mankind? Were Muhammed and Buddha God incarnate?

I know that this is just Liam Neeson's viewpoint and, yes, he does have every right to express it. But in my opinion he is very wrong.
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Re: Liam Nesson: 'Aslan symbolizes all great spiritual leaders'

Postby ravbunneh » Jan 04, 2011 12:39 pm

Yes, Aslan has a set cannon. However people can certainly read into a book or character as they wish and take from it what they wish.

If Liam Nesson wants to see Aslan in many facets of many faiths then great. Maybe in his own looking into all those faiths and looking into the Narnia books he will pick up positive morals and life lessons.

Also is you read all the books you will see glimmers of other faiths. "Old Magic" before Aslan or his Father. The fact that in Magician's Nephew Aslan raised the gods and goddesses of the forests and streams. And in doing so one can easily want to draw their own conclusions as to who Aslan is and isn't.

And I think that is really the point of the books. To teach kids morals. To get people to think and draw conclusions. CS Lewis himself was often very much one not to out right say "Aslan is Jesus". He'd tell kids things like.. "Who do you know in our world who..." and let people fill in the blanks.

So if I want to say "Well Aslan is Odin; he died to find the old magic." or is Liam Nesson wants to say Aslan can be found in all great leaders.. great.

Let people draw their own conclusions. Just my 2 cents. :3 Cheers!
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