In Defense of Narnia
I was recently listening, via satellite radio, to a discussion of the new Narnia movies. One of the discussants was an atheist who had enjoyed the books as a child but felt the author was cheating by smuggling Christianity into his story without providing due warning to the reader.
I too am an atheist. I too enjoyed the Narnia books as a child. I too did not spot the close analogy to Christianity when I first read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. Unlike the discussant, I regard that as a feature, not a bug.
One of the things good writers do is to present ideas in an unfamiliar context, permitting their readers to experience them without the usual intellectual baggage. I already know why I believe that Christianity is wrong. What I want to understand is why lots of people, including lots of intelligent and reasonable people, believe it is right. An author like Lewis--better yet Tolkien--helps me do that, by presenting the religious worldview not as a claim I have already rejected about my world but as a picture of a coherent and believable fictional world.
Which brings me to a question for my readers. Are there books that do the same thing, successfully, for other world views? Is there somewhere a Nazi equivalent? Communist? Buddhist? Muslim? In each case, what I am looking for is fiction that presents an attractive picture of the worldview in a setting sufficiently far from the one we usually associate with it so that the reader can experience it as something good before he recognizes it as something he already knows is bad--or at least wrong.