Fairy tale open for debate

College hosts discussion about classic C.S. Lewis work

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— Some said the film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe" was a Hollywood attempt to spread religious propaganda.

Others thought it was a fantasy film that was adapted from a great piece of classic literature.

The story's status as a Christ----ian allegory or children's fairy tale will be examined at Colorado Mountain College on Wednesday.

The Rev. Ernest Bayer of the Holy Name Catholic Church in Steamboat Springs will lead the discussion and explain the Christian interpretation.

Bayer thinks the film is true to the book, and that it is obviously meant to be a Christian allegory. The tale is about four children who enter the fantasy world of Narnia through an attic wardrobe. With the help of a lion, they battle the evil Witch to bring an end to the depressing winter. The children also discover evil is among them.

"I think any Christian who went and saw the movie would probably get it when the lion rose from the dead because he sacrificed for the sins of others," Bayer said.

Some disagree with the interpretation and think Lewis's work should be looked at secularly.

"Others feel Lewis's work shouldn't be taken like that, that it should be looked at as a piece of literature, not a prophecy and not as evangelizing," said Colorado Mountain College professor Janie Swartz.

The religious tones and virtues are not unique to Lewis's work. Bayer points to many of the classic fairy tales such as "Cinderella", "Pinocchio" and J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings." These tales were created with a Western influence, Bayer said, and share religious themes such as love, friendship, honesty and justice. They are subject to interpretation, and their message is often subtle.

"I can point to the things in there that sure seem to me to be Christian, but C.S. Lewis wasn't that blatant about it," Bayer said. "He didn't call the lion Jesus."

The discussion is part of a series of discussion sponsored by the college's Alpine Enrichment Program.

"Because it's something that people don't have a finite answer regarding, it's open to so much interpretation," said Swartz, the program's coordinator. "It just makes for great discussion and everyone has a different opinion."

She said the program provides an opportunity to discuss controversial topics in a non-threatening way. After a series of well-attended discussions that examined "The Da Vinci Code," Swartz said several people suggested exploring Lewis's intentions in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe."

Bayer said the program will consist of people discussing art.

"The beauty of art is it's open to interpretation," Bayer said.

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