Narnia and Malawi

Apparently Narnia is experiencing a bit of a revival thanks to Hollywood. I love CS Lewis's books and my wife and I have recently reread most of the Narnia series. In Oxford we visited his house and even considered living in it for a while. But it was a bit out of the way, so instead I just drank ale at the pub where he, JRR Tolkien and some other buddies used to meet to share their stories with each other.

Last week we gave The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe to Delato our night guard to read. He loves to read, but books are shockingly expensive here (like 30USD for a paperback), so he doesn't have much to read. Since it is a children's book we figured the book wouldn't be too difficult for him.

He seems to be enjoying it, but he is kind of upset about all of the magic in the book. He is Christian, and in Malawi this means rejecting ideas of magic, witches, spells and the like. Of course the irony is that Narnia is a thinly veiled Christian allegory, and Lewis is one of the greatest Christian theologians ever (check out Mere Christianity). Aslan represents Jesus, and Aslan sacrifices himself to atone for Edward's wrongdoing. But I am afraid that Delato doesn't see this - he just sees a story about a magic talking Lion battling evil witches. He probably heard similar stories growing up in his village, but with warnings about so and so village being where the witch lives or "that is why you must never kill a Lion". In fact, Temwa (Claudia's colleague) recently had to cancel her holiday because her niece has been accused of being a witch. Temwa has to go to the village to support her niece, and prove that her niece isn't a witch. Temwa (Aslan?) says that often it is the accusers of witchcraft that are the witches themselves, and she aims to confront them.

In other words you can't mix Christian concepts of redemption with talking animals and good magic without really confusing Malawians. It will be interesting to talk to Delato after he finishes it and determine if he noticed any of the Christian themes.

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