Thursday, February 28, 2008

New Prince Caspian Widget!

This is the new Prince Caspian Widget for the United States.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

ABC's Lost's Narnia Connection Confirmed

This blog entry (in a slightly altered form) first appeared as a "Narnia News Blog Update" on Hollywood Jesus 02/16/08.

As I reported last week, ABC's TV series "Lost" has a new character named Charlotte Staples Lewis. The name is obviously derived from Clive Staples (C.S.) Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia series of seven children's books. Disney released the movie The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in 2005 based on the first published book in the series. Prince Caspian, the second book to be published, will premiere as a Disney movie this May.

C.S. Lewis was called "Jack" by his friends, and it has been speculated that the character Jack in "Lost" somewhat represents C.S. Lewis's journey from Atheism (man of science) to Christianity (man of faith).

The first episode of Season 4 ("Confirmed Dead") was aired on February 7, and was rebroadcast February 14 in an "enhanced" version with clues and tidbits added to the bottom of the screen. This enhanced version is available online. (See below.) Starting at 23:56 in the episode, we receive confirmation that Lost's C.S. Lewis is indeed related to both the author and his books:

This is Charlotte Staples Lewis... she is an anthropologist. Her name is inspired by C.S. Lewis... author of The Chronicles of Narnia... a story of an unlikely passage... to a most unusual place.
Charlotte is seen in a flashback in a desert in Tunisia. She has learned about an archaeological dig there, and identifies some bones as that of a polar bear.

We've seen polar bears on the island... now here's evidence of the furry creatures... in another unlikely location.
Charlotte does some digging through the sand near the bones and finds a leather strap.

A DHARMA logo form the Hydra Station... the discovery is very important to Charlotte.

Polar Bears also come into play in Lewis's first Narnia book, pulling the White Witch's sleigh. It is also interesting to note that another of the "rescuers" is named Miles Straume*, which is a reference to "Maelstrom." "Maelstrom" originally referred to the tidal waters around Norway, and is important in their mythology. (In English, Maelstrom can refer to any Whirlpool-like phenomenon. The Asteroid Belt, which was thought by some scientists to be impassible, is often referred to by that name.) I mention this because the Disney Epcot Center ride "Maelstrom" in the Norway exhibit also has polar bears. Another inspiration?

To view the enhanced version of "Confirmed Dead" online click here, then select either 'Lost Season 4" or 'Lost Season 4 in HD Streaming" from the left-hand menu. Then click 'watch now" for "Confirmed Dead-Enhanced 02/15/08." (The date refers to when the episode was put online.)

*I am told Straume is also the name of a town in Norway.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Special "Super Tuesday" Edition: What DO We Want Changed?

There are some mistakes which humanity has made and repented so often that there is now really no excuse for making them again. One of these is the injustice which every age does to its predecessor; for example, the ignorant contempt which the Humanists (even good Humanists like Sir Thomas More) felt for medieval philosophy or Romantics (even good Romantics like Keats) felt for eighteenth-century poetry. ... Why should we not give our predecessors a fair and filial dismissal?

So C. S. Lewis began "The Funeral of a Great Myth" (published posthumously in the anthology Christian Reflections, as I mentioned in a recent Blog entry). Lewis realized the wisdom in taking the good from those who have gone before us while we seek to improve and expand our knowledge today. We must be cautious of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater" as they used to say.

As we arrive at "Super Tuesday," it seems that every candidate is claiming to be the "Candidate of Change." America seems ripe for "change," and perhaps rightly so. But we must beware of change for change sake.

Jesus was certainly a catalyst for change, but even He said, "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill." [Matthew 5:17 NKJV] "Therefore every scribe instructed concerning the kingdom of heaven is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things new and old." [Luke 13:52] As we seek new and better ways of running government, we must not forget the old foundations.

We must also beware of the tendency of politicians to--how shall I put this politely--exaggerate to try to make a point about their opponent. This has been going as long on as our country has had elections. James Madison, in the Federalist No. 55, 15 February 1788, commented on the mudslinging going on even then:
As there is a degree of depravity in mankind which requires a certain degree of circumspection and distrust: So there are other qualities in human nature, which justify a certain portion of esteem and confidence. Republican government presupposes the existence of these qualities in a higher degree than any other form. Were the pictures which have been drawn by the political jealousy of some among us, faithful likenesses of the human character, the inference would be that there is not sufficient virtue among men for self-government; and that nothing less than
the chains of despotism can restrain them from destroying and devouring one another.

As we seek change, we need to not only be aware of the good of the past, but we must seek the truth in the present. Don't take what your favorite candidate says as the unvarnished truth--do some digging. When Jesus said, "The Truth shall set you free," He was speaking primarily of the truth about Himself. But the principle applies to other areas of life, not the least of which is politics. In this case, we may lose political freedoms if we are not careful to seek the truth. How often lies have led nations into slavery. With much freedom comes much responsibility. Choose wisely.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Will the Real Misogynist Please Stand Up?

C. S. Lewis has frequently been criticized for his supposed prejudices. I have always had a hard time understanding this. Even while he was alive, Lewis was accused of being a misogynist--of having a prejudice against or hatred of women. Kathryn Lindskoog, who wrote several books about Lewis, had been told in the 1950's (by Dr. Clyde Kilby, no less) that Lewis was a woman-hater. Her meeting with him on July 20, 1956, while she was taking a summer graduate course at the University of London, showed otherwise. Unlike his portrayal in the 1994 movie Shadowlands, Lewis was not a "shy, socially inept man." He had a a fabulous sense of humor (He has been called the personification of "jovial."), and Lindskoog describes him as "the kindest man I have ever met."

Some have criticized Lewis's attitude of women in warfare. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Susan and Lucy are told to stay out of the battle because, as Father Christmas says, "battles are ugly when women fight." However, in The Last Battle, Jill Pole does play a major role in the fighting. In fact, the women (or girls) in The Chronicles are strong, important characters, not just window dressing. In A Horse and His Boy, Aravis runs away from her home country to escape an arranged marriage. Susan is praised when she rejects her betrothed after she finds out what he is really like. In The Last Battle, Susan is (indirectly) criticized, not for acting like a woman, but for her vanity (which men can be just as guilty of).

The women in Philip Pullman's trilogy His Dark Materials are also strong, important characters, but they also tend to be a bit stereotypical. The witches in the trilogy seduce men, but would rather really live apart from them. There are no male witches. There seems to be a parallel between the White Witch in The Chronicles, who uses her charms to bewitch (or try to bewitch) young men to her side.

Lyra is portrayed as a strong, independent woman in The Golden Compass, but there is a subtle change in the second book, The Subtle Knife. The leadership role is very much transferred from Lyra to Will. Lyra sees him as someone she can depend on when the Aletheometer tells her that he is a murderer. At this point Lyra sounds like a subject for Dr. Laura's 10 Stupid Mistakes Women Make to Mess Up Their Lives. I can just hear it: "Bad boys and the women who love them--next time on Montell Williams." To be fair to Will, he has killed in self-defense without intending to, but the Aletheometer does not make that distinction. Lyra is not setting an example here that I would want my daughter or granddaughter to follow.

Perhaps Pullman is trying to contrast Lyra with Mary Malone, a main character in The Amber Spyglass. Mary's name (M-alone), as well as the title to Chapter 7 ("Mary, Alone"), imply an independent spirit. Here is the ultimate strong woman of science who goes off by herself to save the world. Pullman often uses aloneness as a theme. Lyra and Will, although they have each other, at a critical point realize they have no one else to help them. They are like Frodo and Sam--if the "quest" is to be done, they will have to do it. Of course, in both tales there are those behind the scenes working to assist their success, but for their task, they are on their own.

The difference in The Chronicles is that Aslan is there, even when he cannot be seen. Pullman's universe has "Dust" to tell them what to do, but after that they are on their own. In Pullman's universe, Hope is in man. For C. S. Lewis, the Hope is in Aslan--in the Son of the Emperor Over the Sea--the Son of God.

Some helpful links:

2005 Article at on criticism of C. S. Lewis be for the release of the first Narnia movie; see also the comments, especially #53

Kathryn Lindskoog article about meeting C. S. Lewis

Review of Surprised by Laughter: The Comic World of C.S. Lewis