Narnia film rebuts secularists who prefer winter without Christmas

(John Andrews in the Denver Post, Dec. 4) It’s dusk on a December afternoon. You’re lost in a wintry woodland, cold and scared. It’s snowing hard and getting darker. Suddenly, through the trees, you see the astonishing glow of a lamppost. You’re not out of the woods yet, but now there’s hope. You can start to get your bearings. Better yet, someone put the lamppost there, someone lighted it. Be they friend or foe, the deathly solitude is broken. Cautiously you move toward the clearing. The lamppost in the forest is one of many powerful symbols from the Narnia stories of C.S. Lewis, Christian fantasies for children from five to 95. It shines in movie promotions for The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, which opens next weekend. Will Phil Anschutz, whose Walden Media produced the film, win his $100 million bet against Harry Potter? Will the curse be lifted from a frozen land where it’s always winter and never Christmas? Come and see.

America 2005 is much in need of this tale. Influential voices among us absurdly insist that winter is better without Christmas. They charge the lamplighter with despoiling the wilderness. Narnia’s heroism will be lost on these atheist scolds. But it will delight the common-sense majority that still believes virtue and faith are good things.

Hearts hungry from the spiritual malnutrition of our microchip age will feast on Lewis’s beguiling imagery of the high king who created all life, the evil queen who hates all life, and the unlikely door that leads to new life. The crisis comes when the witch takes a hostage and Aslan the lion dies to free him. Why this death? What is the precedent? Is it the end? Come and see.

How interesting that Hollywood, fashionably leftist and famously Jewish, still unapologetically times its big releases each year not just for “the holidays,” but for Christmas. The timidity of other mass-marketers these days is not for Tinseltown.

Film-industry giants like Disney, Walden’s partner on Narnia, see an upside in our traditional love affair with this winter feast of the Christ child. And they’re on target – because most people recognize that never mind all the secularism and political correctness, America’s faith and piety is the friend, not the foe, of America’s freedom and prosperity.

History confirms this. The liberation bought by Aslan’s sacrifice is no mere fable. It was through Jesus that the truth of man’s dignity under God’s sovereignty, the truth that makes free, came to Jerusalem and Rome, then to London and Philadelphia. The Liberty Bell itself, as Newt Gingrich recently reminded my radio listeners, bears a scriptural motto in Moses’ words.

It is with due reverence, not superstition, that every dime spent at the mall, whether for Kwanzaa gifts or Advent calendars, proclaims “In God We Trust.” Michael Newdow’s lawsuit against that, even if it should succeed in the Supreme Court where his previous suit against God in the Pledge of Allegiance failed, grossly misconceives the sources and safeguards of a free society.

Remove a divine standard of justice, and we are under a jungle law where might makes right, left to the mercy of the strongest. “Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people,” wrote John Adams. “It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” From Adams and Hamilton in one party to Jefferson and Madison in the other, all the Founders saw this. Why can’t today’s liberal Democrats see it?

Former Sen. Gary Hart, for example, hawks his new book on God and Caesar with wild warnings about a “theocracy of the religious right.” His frightening evidence: Bush’s withdrawal of the Harriet Miers judicial nomination. Not scary, Gary. Not worthy of a Yale divinity grad.

But Hart’s paranoid hyperbole nicely matches that of current Sen. Ken Salazar, when he branded a critic “the anti-Christ.” The goal of such labels is not to protect liberty but to silence people of faith, allowing the coercive utopians to monopolize public debate. The lamppost burns too brightly, you see. Its light and heat are so threatening. Tell it to the Narnians, senators.