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Re: [mythsoc] The Voice of Aslan

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  • 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 1 of 11 , Dec 21 4:31 PM
      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 2 of 11 , Dec 21 4:35 PM
        ... 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 3 of 11 , Dec 21 4:45 PM
          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 4 of 11 , Dec 22 12:11 AM
            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 5 of 11 , Dec 22 12:56 AM
              "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 6 of 11 , Dec 22 3:26 AM
                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 7 of 11 , Dec 22 5:46 AM
                  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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