Erik Graff's Reviews > The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Oct 13, 2008

did not like it
bookshelves: literature
Recommended to Erik by: Skip and Flo
Recommended for: no one
Read in March, 1970 , read count: 1

During my freshman year at Grinnell College we had resident advisors, a couple who lived downstairs in Loose Hall dorm who were there if we needed them. That never happened, but they were friendly and welcoming, their door usually open to visitors. My roommate, Richard Hyde, had some relationship with them and invited me to join him for a visit.

Skip and Flo were Christians! That was intriguing. I asked them about it and they gave me an answer which I only came to understand years later, after I'd read Schweitzer and Bultmann. It basically amounted to their agreeing that, yes, Christianity was absurd and that the core of it was Christ crucified. Not the resurrection. That's absurd. Christ crucified. --At least, that's the way I constructively interpreted these nice people four years later when I actually had come to know quite a lot about their religion.

They also loaned me a copy of Lewis' children's book, The Lion etc., first volume of his Narnia series, presumably because I'd mentioned having read and liked his Perelandra Trilogy and autobiography.

Dutifully, I gave it a try...and hated it. Now, as an adult of sorts, having also read and despised his Screwtape Letters, I could see through the story to the underlying propaganda and it bothered me a lot that children were intended to be exposed to it. Still, they were nice people. I suffered through the thing out of respect for them.

Now, reflecting on my own early exposure to, and appreciation of, C.S. Lewis, I am less prone to be upset. I survived the insidious brainwashing. It appears my fourteen year old niece has managed to do so in recent years as well.
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Comments (showing 1-22)

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Elizabeth Jacobs Thank you! You're the first person I've discovered agrees with me in this matter. While it was fun reading the first few books as a child, the Christian propaganda always bothered me. And of course as I got older, it just bothered me more, particularly the final book in the series, The Last Battle. I can honestly say that I hated that book.

message 21: by Erik (new) - rated it 1 star

Erik Graff likewise.

Cheryl Hi. I was raised by a very religious mother and was sent to a Christian school for most of my school years. I am glad to hear that you and your niece have survived the brainwashing. I did too! :) I am currently reading this series. I am on #6 of 7. Although I generally hate anything to do with mainstream religion, I have really liked all but one of the books so far. I can see the symbolism in the story but I choose to ignore it and enjoy the story as a fantasy. I like your review though and I have voted for it.

message 19: by [deleted user] (new)

Oh no, I've been brainwashed. Help me, for goodness sake, someone. Haha, I love how when it happens to be Christianity behind an author's work, it's called 'propoganda'. Quite hysterical.

Laura Personally, I never got the Christian undertones of this series as a was just a series of books I enjoyed that had magic in it.

person Oh yeah. Because all Christians are brainwashed idiots, right? Well, you're certainly going to make a lot of friends talking like that.

message 16: by Rhys (new)

Rhys If you call Narnia "propaganda", one must also assume that His Dark Materials by Pullman is also "propaganda".

Christina All books push a certain view point. I happen to love the His Dark Materials trilogy, but that doesn't mean I necessarily agree with the viewpoint. C. S. Lewis is hardly the only children's writer to have infused morals or what you call "propaganda" into his stories. Most fairy tales are just that.
If you choose to see these books as merely pushing a Christian agenda then you are robbing yourself of the enjoyment of one of the best fantasy series ever written fir children.

Tamra I don't think all Christians are brainwashed, but I do think that this book is quite pushy about its Christian agenda. And I'm a Christian! Narnia would have been a great story without all the annoying undertones.

message 13: by Jessie (new) - added it

Jessie look, while I respect your opinion fully, I gotta say that I'm slightly perturbed that you would label this as "brainwashed propaganda" If you're going to go around saying that every book that's written to hint at religious matters is propaganda, then you'd sure as heck right the exact same thing on every single book review you ever write because EVERY SINGLE BOOK that has ever been written (and loved) HAS to push some sort of point, otherwise it'd be boring and meaningless. EVERYTHING is biased, my friend. Get past it and just try to enjoy the book you're reading. I mean come on, I got through Twilight and I actually somewhat enjoyed it despite the fact that it's unbearably corny :p

Carol Storm So what happened to the couple downstairs? Were they into like . . . Satanic rites or something? I thought you were really going somewhere with that! Seriously, I find the Christian propaganda in the books tiresome, but they are still classics and enormous fun to read. And judging from the nice people downstairs, I wish I had gone to Grinnell, not stupid worthless Columbia, that asphalt wasteland located in the pit of filth that is Upper West Side NYC!

message 11: by Erik (new) - rated it 1 star

Erik Graff I have no idea of what happened to Skip and Flo after that year. Presumably, one or both of them had been working on finishing a dissertation. Resident advisors were usually persons pursuing academic careers.

Ironically, I went on to the upper west side, to UTS and, occasionally, Columbia right after college.

message 10: by Eric (new) - rated it 4 stars

Eric Foster Referring to someone's belief system as "insidious brainwashing" doesn't seem like habituating virtue or care for others, but that's another point.

I'm reading through the Narnia series with my boys now, and it goes a long way toward reinforcing morality as well as creating parallels to Christianity in a way that they can grasp and wrestle with. We're Christians and proud of it, and we also encourage our kids to "reason" and "work out their salvation", both biblical commands. Critical thinking and faith are both values of the human condition, and just because yours has led you to a different conclusion doesn't mean that I'm either the victim or the propagator of "brainwashing". And neither was Lewis.

Drew Graham Well... SOMEone missed the point of LWW.

katienicole... Cheryl, as a Christian myself, I found your comment EXTREMELY OFFENSIVE. Keep it to yourself, please. You don't have to believe in my religion, but you don't have to say we've been brainwashed. That's COMPLETELY untrue. God is alive and there's plenty of proof. You just have to look. Try reading Heaven is for Real.


Cheryl I most definitely will not keep my opinions to myself!!! That's for cowards. Why do Christians think they are allowed to push their opinions on everyone whether solicited or not, but non-Christians must "keep it to themselves"? I don't care if I offended you or anyone else. Someday you might grow up and realize that organized religion is a scam. Do a little research on the history of the Bible and Christianity instead of just blindly believing what your parents or current televangelist and preachers tell you. Good luck.

Cheryl By the way, why do you think you have the right to tell me to keep my opinions to myself? If you didn't like my comment, you could have just ignored it. In the pm that you sent to me, you said "keep it to yourself or at least be polite about it". What exactly did I say that you find impolite? Just curious.

Drew Graham Cheryl, you don't have to keep your opinions to yourself (and neither do Christians or people of any other religions), but the least you could do is show a little respect for people who believe, especially if you expect them to show the slightest bit of respect for you. I'm pretty sure (though I don't know for sure, of course) that Katie meant to keep the offensive comments or rudeness to yourself, not your opinions. If you can't see what was "impolite" about your first comment, maybe you have been brainwashed, just by something other than what you originally thought.

Anyway, back on topic, re-reading this review made me realize all over again how off the mark it is, but that's the reader's prerogative I suppose.

katienicole... Cheryl, do you honestly think that saying that anyone not your religion is "brainwashed" ISNT going to be viewed as offensive?!?! Many people here are offended, and I kindly suggest that you say your opinions more respectfully next time. :) thanks

Cheryl No Drew, she told me to keep my comments to myself. And no, I still don't see what was impolite about my comment. When I originally posted my comment, I was talking to Erik Graff. I wasn't talking to Katie, Drew or anyone else. I didn't say that ALL Christians are brainwashed. I said that **I** survived the brainwashing that I feel was being done on me and my peers at the Christian school & church that **I** went to. How dare you say that what I went through is not real or that I'm impolite or disrespectful by talking about it!! Katie "kindly suggests" that people with differing feelings or thoughts "keep it to themselves" and/or "say it more respectfully". Guess what Katie??? No one asked for your suggestions, and I still don't understand why you feel that you have the right to tell me what I should or shouldn't say, or that I should say things more respectfully. Who died and made you God? If you don't agree with someone, why don't YOU be respectful & polite and keep it to YOURSELF?? Hmmmm??

Brent Ranalli Cheryl, well explained. To me it is quite obvious that in your first comment you were referring to the experience of Erik and his niece and yourself, and not generalizing about the encounter of everyone everywhere with Christianity. (Can you even imagine making such a generalization? That every Christian has been brainwashed, or that no one has ever been subjected to brainwashing in the name of Christianity?)

Booknerd13531 I don't really think it's propaganda. You can read a book and get anything you want out of it. I am a christian and I love the whole series. I didn't know about the Christian undertones until I was older. Chronicles of Narnia is a great series for any religion. I love it!

By The Way: Christians are not brainwashed. That's like saying every religion is brainwashed in one way or another. Each religion has different beliefs and I respect them, if they're not hurting anyone.

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