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Good News Dallas
by Tom Pauken    Mon, Dec 12, 2005, 03:12 PM

lionwitchwardrobe-poster.jpgThe opening weekend for The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe was a roaring success as the new movie (based on C.S. Lewis’ first in his seven volume The Chronicles of Narnia series) grossed more than $67 million in its weekend opening. I reported last week in Dallas Blog that Denver billionaire Philip Anshutz had made a big bet (the movie cost $150 million to make) that there was a commercial market for a movie based on C.S. Lewis’ classic Christian allegory. (Link to previous commentary.)

Anshutz’s company partnered up with Disney in this Christmas release, and early signs are that it will be a very profitable venture for both companies.

With all the interest generated in The Chronicles of Narnia, there understandably has arisen a renewed interest in the writings of its author C.S. Lewis. Some of the usual suspects already have waded in with renewed attacks on Lewis and his writings. British fantasist Philip Pullman attacks the Narnia series for what he calls "their nasty little-Englandness and their narrow-hearted religiosity." Writing in the New Yorker, Adam Gopnick finds C.S. Lewis "nasty", "a prig", and a "very odd kind" of Christian. The British polemicist Polly Toynbee wrote in a recent column that "here in Narnia is the perfect Republican, muscular Christianity for America – that warped, neo-fascist strain that thinks might is right."

C.S. Lewis
In responding to one of Lewis’ secular critics who are upset over what Adam Gopnik calls the author’s "conservative religiosity", here is what columnist Joseph Sobran has to say:

"I’m afraid Gopnik hasn’t read the C.S. Lewis millions of other readers have treasured. He has missed Lewis’s point – not a very difficult one, really – about the virtue of faith. Belief is something you have or don’t have; but faith is an act of will and fortitude, which is why we speak of "keeping" or "breaking" faith."

For the reader who wants to know the real story behind how C.S. Lewis came to write The Chronicles of Narnia which has been translated into more than 30 languages and sold more than 85 million copies worldwide, there is no better place to begin than by reading the "story of Narnia" by Alan Jacobs, a professor of English at Wheaton College and the author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis. In an essay in Christianity Today, Jacobs recounts how the writing of the first volume of The Chronicles of Narnia took place at a very difficult, personal time in Lewis’s life.

It was the Spring of 1949. He was trying to help his brother, Wornie, who had recently been released from a hospital in Oxford. He was taking care of an elderly woman named Mrs. Moore who was confined to bed. And, he was trying to maintain "a grueling schedule of lectures, tutorials, and correspondence." All of this finally got to Lewis as "he collapsed at his home and had to be taken to the hospital. He was diagnosed with strep throat, and his deeper complaint was simply exhaustion." As Jacobs points out in his article, "What is remarkable is that in the midst of all his miseries, Lewis turned to the writing of a story for children. To read Alan Jacobs’ full story about how Narnia came to be, link to the December 2005 issue of Christianity Today.

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