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'Lion, Witch and Wardrobe' blitz serves up message with Florida's blessing
by Frank Cerabino
Palm Beach Post
October 12, 2005

Now, this is what I call "intelligent design."

When you can combine the forces of Disney, the McDonald's Happy Meal and Gov. Jeb Bush in one tidy package -- all of them working together to cram thinly veiled Christian theology down the gullets of Florida's schoolchildren -- you've got yourself a hell of a plan. More local news

This December, just in time for Christmas, the movie version of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe will be in theaters everywhere, much to the delight of Christian evangelicals, who see the children's tale as it was intended -- a way to subtly introduce the Christ story to young people.

The C.S. Lewis allegory will also be in Florida classrooms everywhere, in book form, thanks to Gov. Bush, as part of Just Read, Florida!

Yes, of all the books the state might encourage children to read, Bush just so happened to pick the book that coincides with the Disney movie, which just so happens to be co-produced by Walden Media, which just so happens to be owned by a Colorado billionaire, who through his family and foundation has donated nearly $100,000 to the Republican party. But that's just the icing on the cake.

This is about the biggest Christian media event since The Passion of the Christ.

'Opportunity for communicating the gospel'

I have read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a bedtime story to my son. It's a charming story, and it can be read simply as a fable.

But Lewis, who wrote it and dozens of other books about his Christian faith, meant the story to be so much more. And that's why religious proselytizers are already celebrating the upcoming release of the film.

Evangelical churches are organizing group trips to theaters and generating discussion materials to be used by scout leaders and schoolteachers. The Mission America Coalition, an evangelical organization whose quest is to preach that Jesus is "the savior of the world," has called the movie a national evangelism opportunity.

The group quotes Lewis' words about the story: "I said, 'Let us suppose that there were a land like Narnia and that the Son of God, as He became a man in our world, became a lion there, and then imagine what would happen.'"

(Hint: The Jesus-lion allows himself to be tortured and killed to spare the life of a selfish little boy.)

The Mission America Coalition says: "As we begin to realize the potential impact of a blockbuster movie based on this premise, one that would have vast popular appeal in our culture as an epic struggle of good versus evil, but yet retain the 'deeper magic' of bedrock Christian themes such as sacrifice, resurrection and redemption, we quickly came to view the film -- as we have viewed the books -- as a huge opportunity for communicating the gospel message."

Marketing from Disney to McDonald's

Which is fine for them. That's their keyhole on the world.

And Disney, usually on the bad side of these culture warriors for being tolerant to homosexuals, will be happy to take their money. And McDonald's, which is making action figures based on the story's characters, will be happy to piggyback on the gravy train with its fat-saturated food for the enlightened.

And the movie will spill into marketing opportunities for breakfast cereals, video games, dental hygiene products and a long line of other marketing tie-ins.

But what's the state of Florida doing in this cabal of Christian commerce?

Oh yeah, that's right. We're opening up the public schools to some backdoor catechism lessons in the guise of getting kids to read.

Maybe, if Floridians agree to a "Choose Jesus" license plate, they'll leave our children alone.

Posted: October 20
, 2005

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