Meet the National Zoo’s newest lion cub … Aslan!

How fun is this?!

From local DC blog DCist:

Time to get jealous, people: Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes, who I’m informed are actors in “The Chronicles of Narnia” series of films, not only got to hang out with the National Zoo’s lion cubs — but they also got to name one of them. One of the 10-week old cubs will now be dubbed Aslan, after the eponymous lion in C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series.

Aslan is coming … Christmas is coming!

This reminds me, the Chronicles of Narnia, particularly The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, makes for a great present!

Update: Stephen Greydanus has posted his review of the latest movie in this series, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which hits theaters this weekend. The book is a quick read if you want to fit it in before attending a showing.

Update 2: This is too funny: “Richard Wolffe makes fun of Sarah Palin for reading C.S. Lewis for ‘divine inspiration.’”

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4 thoughts on “Meet the National Zoo’s newest lion cub … Aslan!

  1. Cathy says:

    How precious! Since you mention that you recommend first Narnia movie/book, I would appreciate some input from faithful Catholics on a good point my husband brought up.

    I recently bought the BBC version of the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe TV series (a much stronger cast and screenplay). I was watching it the other day and I asked my husband why he didn’t want to watch it (he’s seen the newer film version). He says the lion as a Christ figure rubs him the wrong way, because he doesn’t understand why there needs to be a fantasy figure posing as Christ, since Jesus was human and God, despite the fleeting biblical reference to Christ as a lion of Judah. It doesn’t make much sense either that Aslan is plainly known as the king of the animals before he is killed and ressurrected. Plus, he only dies for the sins of one person, Edmund. There doesn’t seem to be a God the Father, unless the so-called “deep magic” is supposed to represent God Almighty. His argument is, why do we need a ficticious depiction (and not even a theologically correct one) of Christ when the New Testament is plenty accessible to read and ponder, even for catechisis of children?

    1. Lori Pieper says:

      Good question, Cathy. But there are answers. Much of the problem stems from a misunderstanding of why Lewis wrote the Narnia stories and how he intended Aslan to be understood.

      Lewis himself said he didn’t originally start writing the first book in the series (The Lion, the Witch, etc) out of a desire to speak about Christ and Christian truths to children. He wrote because he had the images and characters for a story and a handy form to put them in – the fairy tale. But then, because he is a Christian, his beliefs and the “Christian” way his imagination worked began to play a part in the tale.

      Note that Lewis said “fairy tale,” not “allegory.” In fact, Lewis always denied the stories were allegorical. He said that the stories were instead based on the fantasy premise: What if there were a different world, a different universe than ours, and the second person of the Trinity became incarnate in that one, just as he did in ours?

      This is the major mistake that many Christians make in interpreting the stories. They expect an allegory, and they expect to see exact one-to-one correspondences between events in Narnia and events in the incarnation in this world, as recorded in the New Testament. This isn’t something that Lewis intended. The worlds and what happens in them are actually very different.

      This is why Aslan is incarnate as a Lion from the beginning in Narnia – that’s just the way it happens in Narnia. It’s also logical, in a world planned to be one of talking beasts, that God becomes incarnate as king of the beasts. Even when it comes to this world, God could have chosen to act within it in any number of ways. He chose the one he did for his own purposes.

      Also, there isn’t any indication that Narnia is fallen because of original sin (though evil does enter it through the White Witch). Therefore there wouldn’t be any need to save the whole world through Aslan’s death. But when Aslan dies for Edmund, it makes the point — a beautiful one — that the Son of God would have gone through his Passion even to save a single one of us.

      Careful readers of Narnia will note that full awareness is maintained of the differences in the “salvation history” in our world and in Narnia. The children are called “Sons of Adam” and “Daughters of Eve” because of the religious history of our world. Aslan, when he says goodbye to Edmund and Lucy in VDT, says that they must begin to come close to him in their world now, referring to his incarnation in this world.

      When it comes to the what pertains to God outside time and space, however, Lewis is very exact. Aslan is the son of the Emperor over the Seas (God the Father). He himself creates Narnia – just as the world is created through the Word in John’s Gospel. The Trinity is also hinted at in The Horse and His Boy (when Aslan repeats “Myself” three times).

      Why did Lewis write at all when we have the Bible already? He said that from what he remembered of Sunday school, teachers of the Bible often inadvertently stifled the emotion they wanted children to feel about the stories – they weren’t freely using their imaginations to fully participate in the story, because it was something an authority was telling them they had to believe. Lewis wanted to sneak pas those “watchful dragons” at the Sunday-school door.

      I believe this was wonderful and providential, because in our secularized world today, fewer and fewer children are hearing anything at all about the Gospel stories, much less are their imaginations exposed to the idea of divinity, sacrificial love, etc. But if they read the Narnia books (many more will after watching the films) they will have a way in to understanding Christian ideas. Their “imaginations will be baptized,” as Lewis said. Adult Christian can have the delight of seeing Christian ideas in a new guise, and having things brought out of them they perhaps didn’t see before.

      Forgive all this from a huge Narnia fan, but I think it needed saying.

      1. Cathy says:

        Lori, thank you for that incredibly insightful response on the Christian implications contained in the Narnia series. Since I haven’t read the books since I was a child, I never picked up on the more subtle references to the Holy Trinity and God the Father. It’s a shame that the new movie series of films (at least the first two) are weak in terms of the casting and screenplay, as compared to the BBC TV series of the late 1980s. However, it’s good to have the stories presented afresh to society to incite children’s renewed interest in Christian-based fairy tales, as opposed to stories that promote and sympathize with evil creatures and magic.

  2. susanna says:

    Aslan is smiling!

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