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December 14, 2005
Column #1,268

"The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe"

If you have a child aged 8 up, take them to see "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe." It is an ideal Christmas gift because it retells the story of Jesus in a fresh way that makes his sacrifice of life for our sins deeply moving and unforgettable.

At one level, it's an enchanting story of the four Prevensie children - Lucy, Edmund,
Susan and Peter, aged 7 to 14, sent away from the bombing of London, to a country home.

However, parents can explain to children it is also about good and evil. In a world which honors situational ethics, and a me-first attitude, the film makes good and evil starkly clear. And it shows the price of love is high, requiring forgiveness, sacrifice and obedience which is difficult.

Lucy, the youngest, goes inside a large wardrobe, discovering a back door opening to a wintery land, Narnia, where she meets a faun who is half man, who tells her about the reign of a wicked witch. Lucy goes back through the wardrobe to her siblings, who don't believe her story.

Lucy returns with Edmund, but are separated. The witch appears to Edmund, calls herself a queen and dazzles him with magic powers. She offers to make him a prince, who might become king - if he divulges information about his siblings.

The two children return and persuade Peter and Susan to join them in exploring Narnia. Edmund separates to seek the mysterious queen/witch. The other three visit the home of talking beavers, who tell the kids the witch has ruled Narnia for a century, and kept it in permanent winter. However, they hope in time evil will be overcome by the great lion, Aslan.

As humans, the children are able to persuade Aslan to fight the witch and her evil forces. This is an adventure in which kids can help save the world, rolling back perpetual winter.

Meanwhile, Edmund finds the witch's icy palace. He sits upon her throne, imagining
himself king. He's not welcomed as expected, but is thrown into a dungeon with Lucy's faun. The witch turns the faun to stone, and again asks Edmund about the other children. He betrays them, telling where they are.

The siblings travel to ask Aslan to help free Edmund. Father Christmas gives them gifts for future battles: Peter; a sword and shield; Susan, a bow and arrows; Lucy, medicine that can heal any illness.

As they travel, the weather warms, showing that their faithfulness and courage melts snow, producing cherry blossoms. Eventually they come to the army of Aslan, of centaur soldiers, half horse and half man. The children ask to see Aslan.

When they meet the great lion, he promises to help free Edmund, though it will come "at great cost." Aslan speaks with Edmund at a distance; words cannot be heard. We presume the boy is admonished for his betrayal. Aslan warns the children to accept Edmund back without recriminations, which they do.

Suddenly the witch shows up with her army and demands that Edmund, a traitor, be
returned. Aslan speaks to her privately, and announces the boy will remain with his family. The witch withdraws.

That evening Lucy and Susan hear Aslan walking away. They rise and ask if they can
walk with him. Clearly in great agony, Aslan welcomes them. Later he tells them he must continue alone. The girls watch from the woods as Aslan walks into the witch's camp. Her frightening troops cheer as he walks up to a stone platform, where he is bound with ropes.

To the horror of the girls, he is killed to the jeers of evil forces. They disappear and the grieving girls hug Aslan's body, weeping.

The next day a battle is fought between forces of good led by Peter and Edmund - and the witch's dominions. Suddenly a resurrected Aslan appears, and with a roar, runs in front of his army. Edmund is seriously wounded, but Lucy's medicine revives him. Aslan kills the witch and says, "It is finished.".

The children are crowned: Lucy, the Valiant; Edmund the Just; Susan, the Gentle and Peter, the Magnificent. Lucy was not valiant at the outset, but fearful. Peter was hesitant to use his sword, and Susan, her arrows. Each grew in character, earning their titles.

Parents can explain that being a person of character is not easy and takes courage. Each person can choose right or wrong, which may bring short-term personal gain, like Edmund's sweets while sacrificing his family.

However, Aslan voluntarily gave up his life to free Edmund, as Jesus died to save each of us. His resurrection assures that good will ultimately triumph over evil.

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