Dec 052005
Authors: Sarah Mast

There is more symbolism in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" than some people may think.

Neil Riley, director of faith formation for the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado, gave a presentation in the Lory Student Center Monday night discussing C.S. Lewis' "The Chronicles of Narnia." Riley spoke about Lewis' background, influences and his conversion to Christianity.

"Riley is very knowledgeable and always puts on an engaging program with lots of question and answer opportunities," said Rev. Rob Lundquist, priest-in-charge at Saint Paul's Episcopal Church.

Lundquist said Riley has given multimedia presentations on C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien and their contemporaries around the country for about 10 years.

Through his presentations Riley said he hopes to give people the framework to look at any of Lewis' writings.

"The joy one feels during 'Narnia' is fun. Lewis' writings are so varied," Riley said. "It's just filled with so many styles and types of writing."

Riley discussed a brief background of the author, his beliefs and how his life and beliefs influenced his writing.

Riley said Lewis was connected with a group called the "Inklings" which included other famous authors such as J.R.R. Tolkien and Owen Barfield.

"The group would gather to drink beer and to read and criticize each other's works," Riley said.

As a big fan of Lewis' and Tolkien's novels, Riley has done a lot of research to learn more about the Christian background of the men and their stories.

"Lewis said he became Christian 'kicking and screaming into the kingdom of God,'" Riley said.

Lewis considered himself an Orthodox Christian and his faith becomes apparent through his use of allegory and Bible stories in his novels.

"When Lewis uses allegory, he takes a story of the Bible and retells it in his world (Narnia)," Riley said.

The new movie, "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," which hits theaters Friday, introduces new ways in which the story is tied to the Christian faith.

Riley said overall, Lewis tried to incorporate his faith into his stories in as many ways as possible. He wanted to simplify the faith to help other people understand.

"In his books he has real Satan and evil characters," Riley said. "Tolkien and Lewis believed actual objects could hold evil meaning; such as rings and chairs."

Throughout his presentation Riley showed audience members how Lewis incorporated a father, son and Holy Spirit figure into each of his novels.

"Lewis thought if people could understand spirituality in that world, they could understand it in this world," Riley said.

Despite discussing the religious connotations of the novels, Riley introduced the different techniques of writing Lewis and Tolkien used to make their novels effective.

Despite the popularity of his books, Riley stated that "Lewis always said he would never want to see 'Narnia' in film. I think he thought the world or 'Narnia' could never be shown correctly."

Aside from Lewis' views on turning his novels into movies, Riley said that as a big fan of Lewis' works, he will attend the first showing of the film at midnight Thursday.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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