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Friday, December 17, 2010

Aslan and Mormons

Lewis created Aslan for the purpose of touching the love already in us. And you know, you do love that Lion as you read about him. With each new Chronicle the love and appreciation increase. You love him for his dignity, his wisdom, his pure goodness, his gentleness. Perhaps most of all you love him because he wants us to receive his love and to know him and to share his happiness.
S. Michael Wilcox makes this statement in "What can we learn from a lion? Lessons about Christ from Lewis' Aslan" published December 9 in Mormon Times. This appeared the day before the latest Narnia movie debuted "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader."

Mormons love Lewis' books and the movie will obviously do well with Mormon audiences. What is less clear is what C.S. Lewis thought about Mormons. He seems only vaguely aware of them. Mormons are aware of him. In an article entitled, "What C.S. Lewis thought about Mormons" we are told that General Authorities of the Church quote Lewis extensively:
The first to reference Lewis' words in a church publication, according to Richardson and Thackeray, was Elder Neal A. Maxwell. "Interestingly, although Elder Maxwell did quote Lewis more than any other apostle, he was followed closely by (Elders) Jeffrey R. Holland, James E. Faust, and Dallin H. Oaks," the authors write.
Richardson and Thackeray wrote that Lewis has been referenced about 100 times in church-sponsored publications — about one-third of which were during general conference addresses. He has been quoted thousands of times "throughout LDS writing."
"Even Shakespeare pales in comparison to the number of times C.S. Lewis has been quoted by Mormon authors, scholars, and General Authorities to illustrate or emphasize doctrinal truths," the authors write.
In official Mormon publications there is only one direct reference to Aslan. It comes from an address entitled, "The Quest for Spiritual Knowledge" by Robert S. Woods of the Seventy in 2007.

The opposite of this hungering and thirsting is what the prophets call “hardness of heart,” an inability to see what really is, to hear what is truly being said, and to feel with an openness of heart. C. S. Lewis, in his final volume of the Narnia tales, recounts how, after the forces of the White Witch have been defeated by Aslan the lion (a representation of Christ) and his followers, the prisons and chains with which she had bound so many disappeared. Within a prison stable, a group of dwarfs had been chained in a circle. Suddenly the stable and their chains disappeared and they were free. But they refused to believe their own liberation and stayed within their closed circle, not feeling the fresh air, seeing the sun, or smelling the flowers. Even as Aslan growled in their ears to arouse them, they mistook the growl for a machine or a trick.2 On another occasion Aslan observed, “Oh Adam’s sons, how cleverly you defend yourselves against all that might do you good!”3
Aslan is Jesus Christ. In the end of the story, Aslan tells Lucy she will not be able to come back to Narnia. Perhaps Aslan's answer to Lucy not being able to come back to Narnia has many meanings. He assures her that he would be in her own world and perhaps it is also an analogy for our world and the next:
" . . . that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there."

(Also see a recent Meridian Magazine article, a Deseret Book DVD, an article in Dialogue and an online article for current and thorough handling of Aslan and Mormondom.)

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