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The Voice of Aslan

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  • John Rateliff
    Anybody here been following the controversy over remarks by Aslan s voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam Neeson opined
    Message 1 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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      Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for Buddha or Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a link to a (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html

      --John R.
    • scribbler@scribblerworks.us
      What a mess. How is it politically correct to declare that a character that was intentionally created as a symbol of Christ (which can be stated as fact,
      Message 2 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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        What a mess.

        How is it "politically correct" to declare that a character that was
        intentionally created as a symbol of Christ (which can be stated as fact,
        based on the author's own commentary, not just "an interpretation" on the
        part of a reader) to NOT be explicitly such a symbol. On top of which,
        have I been missing something in the stories of Mohammad and Buddha where
        they give up their lives to save someone (as Aslan does in TLTWTW)?

        It is one thing when non-Christian readers enjoy the Narnia books as "just
        good stories", basically accepting them on their surface level.

        It is something else when someone acknowledges that there are religious
        influences and symbolism in the stories, and then tries to claim that
        those presences are for religions contrary to the one intended by the
        work's author.

        What fuzzy thinking lies behind Neesom's statement! Aslan is wonderful
        and loveable, and we are drawn to him. This is good. So, therefore, he
        MUST represent ALL "religious figures" that we could categorize as "good".
        Because we don't want to exclude anything. It doesn't matter that the
        other religious figures do not model the behavior found in Aslan - that's
        irrelevant, isn't it?
        (Here endeth bitter satire.)

        Ack. Merry Christmas. :D

        > Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's
        > voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam
        > Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for Buddha or
        > Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a link to a
        > (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
        >
        > http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html
        >
        > --John R.
      • David Bratman
        Yeah, it s not as if C.S. Lewis ever thought there might be an echo of the truth in other religions, or that someone sincerely worshipping Tash was really
        Message 3 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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          Yeah, it's not as if C.S. Lewis ever thought there might be an echo of the truth in other religions, or that someone sincerely worshipping Tash was really giving his allegiance to Aslan. [Here endeth the sarcasm]

          Here's a link that, for a wonder, quotes what Neesom actually said, which is considerably different from the straw man being vigorously bashed elsewhere:
          <http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Liam-Neeson-Enrages-Christians-By-Comparing-Aslan-To-Buddha-22063.html>



          -----Original Message-----
          >From: scribbler@...
          >Sent: Dec 21, 2010 1:07 PM
          >To: mythsoc@yahoogroups.com
          >Subject: Re: [mythsoc] The Voice of Aslan
          >
          >What a mess.
          >
          >How is it "politically correct" to declare that a character that was
          >intentionally created as a symbol of Christ (which can be stated as fact,
          >based on the author's own commentary, not just "an interpretation" on the
          >part of a reader) to NOT be explicitly such a symbol. On top of which,
          >have I been missing something in the stories of Mohammad and Buddha where
          >they give up their lives to save someone (as Aslan does in TLTWTW)?
          >
          >It is one thing when non-Christian readers enjoy the Narnia books as "just
          >good stories", basically accepting them on their surface level.
          >
          >It is something else when someone acknowledges that there are religious
          >influences and symbolism in the stories, and then tries to claim that
          >those presences are for religions contrary to the one intended by the
          >work's author.
          >
          >What fuzzy thinking lies behind Neesom's statement! Aslan is wonderful
          >and loveable, and we are drawn to him. This is good. So, therefore, he
          >MUST represent ALL "religious figures" that we could categorize as "good".
          > Because we don't want to exclude anything. It doesn't matter that the
          >other religious figures do not model the behavior found in Aslan - that's
          >irrelevant, isn't it?
          >(Here endeth bitter satire.)
          >
          >Ack. Merry Christmas. :D
          >
          >> Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's
          >> voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam
          >> Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for Buddha or
          >> Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a link to a
          >> (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
          >>
          >> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html
          >>
          >> --John R.
          >
          >
          >
          >
          >------------------------------------
          >
          >The Mythopoeic Society website http://www.mythsoc.orgYahoo! Groups Links
          >
          >
          >
        • Joshua Kronengold
          ... What a vile article, full of hatred and evil generalities, equating Islam to radical islam and any statement of religous tolerance to be appeasment.
          Message 4 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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            John Rateliff writes:

            >Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's
            >voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently
            >Liam Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for
            >Buddha or Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a
            >link to a (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
            >
            >http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html

            What a vile article, full of hatred and evil generalities, equating
            "Islam" to "radical islam" and any statement of religous tolerance to
            be appeasment.

            Personally, I don't see earthly religous figures in Aslan -- but just
            as Christians have for centuries seen God or saints in pre-christian
            figures of worship, there's no reason one can't see other aspects of
            the Divine (even non-christian and non-Jewish ones) in Aslan.

            What about seeing Samson, or the "land king" concept as Aslan--who
            created the world, and is willing to die for it to be whole again? We
            take our religious insights, and symbolism where we find them--and
            none has a right to object to another's religious vision (their
            actions, sure? Their logic? Sure. But a person's religion is their
            own.


            --
            Joshua Kronengold (mneme@...) "Release the tera- |\ _,,,--,,_ ,)
            --^--port patents...and drop everything into the public /,`.-'`' -, ;-;;'
            /\\domain. OPEN SOURCE." "It's so scary when you say |,4- ) )-,_ ) /\
            /-\\\it like that" -- Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary) '---''(_/--' (_/-'
          • Darrell A. Martin
            ... Joshua: The article you find to be vile ... full of hatred and evil generalities I find to be matter of fact and moderate (especially considering its
            Message 5 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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              On 12/21/2010 3:51 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote:
              > John Rateliff writes:
              >
              >> Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's
              >> voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently
              >> Liam Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for
              >> Buddha or Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a
              >> link to a (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
              >>
              >> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html
              >
              > What a vile article, full of hatred and evil generalities, equating
              > "Islam" to "radical islam" and any statement of religous tolerance to
              > be appeasment.
              >
              > Personally, I don't see earthly religous figures in Aslan -- but just
              > as Christians have for centuries seen God or saints in pre-christian
              > figures of worship, there's no reason one can't see other aspects of
              > the Divine (even non-christian and non-Jewish ones) in Aslan.
              >
              > What about seeing Samson, or the "land king" concept as Aslan--who
              > created the world, and is willing to die for it to be whole again? We
              > take our religious insights, and symbolism where we find them--and
              > none has a right to object to another's religious vision (their
              > actions, sure? Their logic? Sure. But a person's religion is their
              > own.

              Joshua:

              The article you find to be "vile ... full of hatred and evil
              generalities" I find to be matter of fact and moderate (especially
              considering its often obnoxiously rightest source). However, the real
              question here is not about Islam. It is about whether it is in the least
              appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
              Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author, made repeated statements that
              Aslan represents Jesus Christ, the son of God and founder of the
              Christian religion.

              I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",
              with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
              represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
              Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian". Orwell made it clear
              who the pigs were. Other, inclusive, identifications would do violence
              to the central vision behind his book.

              Whether you agree with Lewis in religious matters is mostly irrelevant
              to this discussion, except that those making the movie have openly
              promoted it in a way calculated to attract positive attention (read,
              paid admissions and DVD sales) from Christians. Of course they don't
              want to offend anyone else in the process.

              Tashlan lives.

              Darrell
            • Darrell A. Martin
              ... obnoxiously rightist source ... (not rightest which spell check unaccountably missed, but no excuse) Grumble. Darrell
              Message 6 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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                ... obnoxiously rightist source ... (not "rightest" which spell check
                unaccountably missed, but no excuse)

                Grumble.

                Darrell
              • Joshua Kronengold
                ... Truly? Saying anything positive about Mohamed consitutes aid and support of sharia law? ... No, it isn t. The only people accusing Mr. Nelson of saying
                Message 7 of 11 , Dec 21, 2010
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                  Darrell A. Martin writes:
                  >The article you find to be "vile ... full of hatred and evil
                  >generalities" I find to be matter of fact and moderate (especially
                  >considering its often obnoxiously rightest source). However, the real

                  Truly? Saying anything positive about Mohamed consitutes aid and
                  support of sharia law?

                  >It is about whether it is in the least
                  >appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
                  >Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author,

                  No, it isn't. The only people accusing Mr. Nelson of saying that
                  (except as a fragment of what he said which keeps his meaning no more
                  than stripping "I do not think" off the beginning of a quotation) are
                  liars or mistaken. He said "to me, Aslan represents" -- which makes
                  Mr. Lewis's statements about what Aslan represents to him (or as
                  intended in the text) completely irrelevant to the discussion.

                  It is now not uncommon, when performing Merchants of Venice, to
                  present Shylock as a tragic figure. This does not do violence to
                  Shakespere's opinion (in which this was almost certainly not his
                  intent); instead it merely adds new components to the dialogue between
                  director, actor, and audience, allowing the work to be relevant to
                  them personally.

                  >I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",
                  >with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
                  >represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
                  >Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian".

                  If the person doing the voice was a strident anarchist who thought
                  that political parts were the source of all evil in teh world, why
                  would they -not- say this? Moreover, assuping they did a good job in
                  the role, why should this matter to anyone?


                  --
                  Joshua Kronengold (mneme@...) "Release the tera- |\ _,,,--,,_ ,)
                  --^--port patents...and drop everything into the public /,`.-'`' -, ;-;;'
                  /\\domain. OPEN SOURCE." "It's so scary when you say |,4- ) )-,_ ) /\
                  /-\\\it like that" -- Howard Taylor (Schlock Mercenary) '---''(_/--' (_/-'
                • Darrell A. Martin
                  On 12/21/2010 6:45 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote: [snip] ... Joshua: It is unnecessary to accuse Mr. Neeson (not Nelson) of anything. Like any celebrity out on
                  Message 8 of 11 , Dec 22, 2010
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                    On 12/21/2010 6:45 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote:

                    [snip]
                    >> It is about whether it is in the least
                    >> appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
                    >> Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author,
                    >
                    > No, it isn't. The only people accusing Mr. Nelson of saying that
                    > (except as a fragment of what he said which keeps his meaning no more
                    > than stripping "I do not think" off the beginning of a quotation) are
                    > liars or mistaken. He said "to me, Aslan represents" -- which makes
                    > Mr. Lewis's statements about what Aslan represents to him (or as
                    > intended in the text) completely irrelevant to the discussion.

                    Joshua:

                    It is unnecessary to accuse Mr. Neeson (not Nelson) of anything. Like
                    any celebrity out on the circuit, Neeson has a set of standard replies
                    to questions on his subject. The only complete video I could find of an
                    interview with him is on "Beliefnet". It can be seen at:
                    <http://www.beliefnet.com/Video/Entertainment/Narnia/Exclusive-Interview-With-Liam-Neeson.aspx>
                    ----------
                    Question: "What is the takeway message with Aslan from the movies?"
                    Neeson: "I don't like using the word 'message.' But, I mean, he stands
                    for, you know, if one is a Christian, he's a Christ-like figure. He's
                    also Muhammad. He's also Buddha, you know, if we're talking about the
                    great religions in the world. He's a great prophet but he's also a
                    mentor, and he's kind of a guardian angel for these kids. And he's the
                    voice of reason. And he gets them, the children, to confront who they
                    are as human beings and to take responsibility for the decision they
                    make. . . . And he's more, of course."
                    ----------

                    Nothing about "in my opinion" in this instance. Of course, it is
                    unreasonable to expect Neeson to say anything except what he thinks. But
                    it would be naive to suggest he does interviews without a great deal of
                    input from those making and marketing the movie. Those same people have
                    been extremely anxious to mend fences with Christians, publicly, after
                    the response to the previous Narnia film. I wonder whether they truly
                    understand the core nature of the objections.

                    I was nearly as bothered by Neeson's idea that the correct way to answer
                    the question, "Why did Lewis pick a lion?" was to go to Africa and look
                    at lions. The awesome reality of lions is only secondarily related to
                    why Lewis picked one to be Narnia's Christ.

                    > It is now not uncommon, when performing Merchants of Venice, to
                    > present Shylock as a tragic figure. This does not do violence to
                    > Shakespere's opinion (in which this was almost certainly not his
                    > intent); instead it merely adds new components to the dialogue between
                    > director, actor, and audience, allowing the work to be relevant to
                    > them personally.

                    "The Merchant of Venice" is perhaps not the best example, because a
                    number of competent critics have argued that the playwright *did* intend
                    Shylock to be seen sympathetically, or at least ambiguously. The kind of
                    adaption that chooses one possibility over another is both unavoidable
                    and proper.

                    On the other hand, I was about ten years old when I first read an
                    adaptation of "Hamlet" that interpreted Ophelia as a full co-conspirator
                    with the Prince from the first appearance of the ghost. That irritated
                    the heck out of me then, and still does. Adapt all you want, it's as
                    time-honored as research. Shakespeare often did it himself. But don't
                    call it Shakespeare when it isn't.

                    >> I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",
                    >> with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
                    >> represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
                    >> Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian".
                    >
                    > If the person doing the voice was a strident anarchist who thought
                    > that political parts were the source of all evil in teh world, why
                    > would they -not- say this? Moreover, assuping they did a good job in
                    > the role, why should this matter to anyone?

                    It would matter very much if the person claimed, "this is George
                    Orwell's Animal Farm"; because it would not be true. Truth, and words,
                    were a central part of Orwell's motivation. If someone transferred
                    Orwell's work to another medium, violated Orwell's vision, and still
                    said "this is Orwell" it would be ... ironic.

                    It could be argued, however, that "pigs as any political party" is
                    indeed what Orwell meant. If a reasonable case were made, Orwell's
                    vision would not have been violated. (We would still lose the story of
                    Orwell's disillusionment as communism morphed into Stalinism.)

                    When someone alters the central vision of an original when he adapts it,
                    but still attempts to benefit by identifying his own work with the
                    original, he is being dishonest, in my opinion. Christianity did not
                    wander into Narnia by accident, nor having arrived was it allowed to
                    remain by mere sufferance. Lewis and the internal evidence are clear.
                    Aslan *is* Narnia's Christ, and that is the very reason the books were
                    written. Aslan is not Narnia's Buddha, or Mohammed. (It is not at heart
                    a merely sectarian question. Aslan is not Narnia's Abraham, or Solomon,
                    or Peter, either.)

                    Make an animated film about three children whisked away into a world of
                    talking animals, where there is a prophet and leader who appears as the
                    great lion Ramrar. Don't mention C.S. Lewis. Don't call the world
                    Narnia. I might not like the result, but the criticisms levied at Liam
                    Neeson would not apply.

                    Darrell
                  • David Bratman
                    ... Wow. That s just ... croggling. Wow. ... Since that s not what Neeson said, whatever that s a relevant question to, it s not relevant to his comments.
                    Message 9 of 11 , Dec 22, 2010
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                      "Darrell A. Martin" <darrellm@...> wrote:

                      >The article you find to be "vile ... full of hatred and evil
                      >generalities" I find to be matter of fact and moderate

                      Wow. That's just ... croggling. Wow.

                      >However, the real
                      >question here is not about Islam. It is about whether it is in the least
                      >appropriate to say Aslan in the Narnia books represents Buddha or
                      >Mohammed when C.S. Lewis, the author, made repeated statements that
                      >Aslan represents Jesus Christ, the son of God and founder of the
                      >Christian religion.

                      Since that's not what Neeson said, whatever that's a relevant question to, it's not relevant to his comments.

                      >I see this as the rough equivalent of making a movie from "Animal Farm",
                      >with the person doing the voice of the narrator saying the pigs
                      >represent "any political party, whether Conservative, Democratic, Labor,
                      >Baathist, Green, Nazi, Republican, or Libertarian". Orwell made it clear
                      >who the pigs were. Other, inclusive, identifications would do violence
                      >to the central vision behind his book.

                      Actually, Orwell would have been pretty dismayed at any suggestion that only Soviet Communists could behave in the manner of his fictional pigs. His allegory was straightforward, but he did want his moral lessons to have a wider application.

                      >When someone alters the central vision of an original when he adapts it,
                      >but still attempts to benefit by identifying his own work with the
                      >original, he is being dishonest, in my opinion. Christianity did not
                      >wander into Narnia by accident, nor having arrived was it allowed to
                      >remain by mere sufferance. Lewis and the internal evidence are clear.

                      Indeed, but Neeson isn't the person who adapted the movie. Criticize his comments on their own grounds, but that doesn't affect the movie, which is quite faithful to Lewis's religious view as shown in the book, including (a nearly verbatim reproduction, as I recall, of) Aslan's statement that in the children's own world, "I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia."
                    • lynnmaudlin
                      There was some discussion of it on Hugh Hewitt s radio show several weeks ago; the consensus being that Neeson (who is apparently a relatively recent convert
                      Message 10 of 11 , Dec 22, 2010
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                        There was some discussion of it on Hugh Hewitt's radio show several weeks ago; the consensus being that Neeson (who is apparently a relatively recent convert to Roman Catholicism) either doesn't understand his faith or hasn't bothered to read CSL.

                        But why anyone should care what the actor thinks is puzzling to me-- we should care what the author thinks and we should care whether the director & producer create a film which lines up with the author's purpose, not even whether they (director and/or producer) agree with the author's view. The actors are beside the point.

                        I realize that actors are high profile and all but one might as well ask the gaffer's opinion.

                        -- Lynn --

                        --- In mythsoc@yahoogroups.com, John Rateliff <sacnoth@...> wrote:
                        >
                        > Anybody here been following the 'controversy' over remarks by Aslan's voice actor? I only just heard about it this morning, but apparently Liam Neeson opined recently that Aslan cd just as easily stand for Buddha or Mohammad as for Jesus, and fur has begun to fly. Here's a link to a (highly partisan) piece about the dust-up:
                        >
                        > http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ken-blackwell/a-fatwa-on-liam-neeson_b_799591.html
                        >
                        > --John R.
                        >
                      • Troels Forchhammer
                        To me it seems a matter of what Tolkien described as confusing allegory with applicability . Though Neeson does forget to sprinkle every statement with
                        Message 11 of 11 , Dec 22, 2010
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                          To me it seems a matter of what Tolkien described as confusing 'allegory' with 'applicability'. 

                          Though Neeson does forget to sprinkle every statement with variants of 'in my opinion' and 'to me', it is nonetheless, in my opinion, clear that he is speaking of applicability to himself rather than anything in 'the purposed domination of the author'. It might even be interesting to discuss to what extent Aslan can be applied to such other religious figures -- in acknowledgement, of course, of what Lewis intended, but in recognition also of the fact that his words possibly could be applied more widely than his intention.  Sometimes it is, to me, interesting also to discuss how the author might be misunderstood

                          /Troels

                          --
                              Love while you've got
                                  love to give.
                              Live while you've got
                                  life to live.
                           - Piet Hein, /Memento Vivere/
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