Monday, 12 October 2009

J.K. Rowling, C.S. Lewis, Myth and Christianity

I recently had a post on my Island of the Voices blog about C.S. Lewis and a quote from his book Mere Christianity. (The first link will take you to that post on my blog; the second to the Wikipedia article on Lewis.) I got a comment from a reader, who had noticed I'm both a C.S. Lewis fan and a J.K. Rowling fan. In this reader's opinion, their respecive writings come from "very different sources". In my opinion, they do not.  It has been some time since I posted anything here, because other things in life and blogworld have been taken priority for a while. But I thought I'd repost my reply about Lewis, Rowling and "myth" here. I hope to get back to the topic another time.

Because I agree with C.S. Lewis, I have no problem with J.K. Rowling. I don't think Lewis would have had either. Rowling too is a brilliant fantasy writer. Lewis in his works used lots of other mythology than Christianity. Think about it: witches, magicians, centaurs, fauns, dragons, giants, talking animals, magic spells, magic objects, enchantments, parallell worlds... Rowling draws from the same sources - Christianity included. The biblical stuff is just not as obvious in the Harry Potter books. People disagree about it. Some don't see it at all. I do. I have read and listened to these books more times than I can count by now. I also discussed them for 2½ years on an internet forum. In fact I would be as bold as to say the Potter world for me personally helped build up my Christian faith rather than tear it down, at a time when I was very tired of what Lewis calls "Christianity-and-water". (See the quotation in The Island of the Voices post.) It gave me a new set of imagery, and challenge for thought. Magic in the Potter books can be used for good or for bad. In much the same way, "spiritual power" can be used in the right way vs misused.

Here's another quote from Mere Christianity , which shows Lewis' views on other mythology:

"Secondly, He sent the human race what I call good dreams: I mean those queer stories scattered all through the heathen religions about a god who dies and comes to life again and, by his death, has somehow given new life to men." (Mere Christianity, Book 2, Chapter 3)

Lewis also somewhere, I don't remember the context, called Christianity "God's true myth". Lewis used old myth to create new myth to illustrate spiritual truth. Rowling does the same thing, in her own way, and for our time. Her myth in my opinion is not opposed to Christianity. It pretty much tells a similar story but in different pictures. She picks a lot from the whole anti-Christ idea in Revelations (Lord Voldemort). Rather brilliantly done in my opinion. And the end of the story is certainly not the victory of evil.

No comments:


Blog Widget by LinkWithin