.- Actor Liam Neeson, the voice of the lion Aslan in the latest Narnia film, has drawn criticism for saying the character is a Christ-like figure who also symbolizes other spiritual leaders.
Aslan is a character in all seven Narnia books by the British Christian writer C.S. Lewis. In the climax of the first book “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” Aslan sacrifices his life to save Narnia before rising from the dead.
Speaking ahead of the upcoming release of the Narnia movie “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” Neeson said: “Aslan symbolizes a Christ-like figure but he also symbolizes for me Mohammed, Buddha and all the great spiritual leaders and prophets over the centuries.
“That’s who Aslan stands for as well as a mentor figure for kids – that’s what he means for me.”
The 58-year-old Neeson is a practicing Catholic who grew up in Northern Ireland and was named after his parish priest, the Daily Telegraph reports. The actor has also collaborated with American Catholic priests to produce a CD of Lenten spiritual meditations.
Walter Hooper, Lewis’ former secretary and a trustee of his estate, said that C.S. Lewis would have been outraged by the claim.
“It is nothing whatever to do with Islam,” Hooper told the Telegraph. “Lewis would have simply denied that. He wrote that the ‘whole Narnian story is about Christ.’ Lewis could not have been clearer.”
He attributed Neeson’s remarks to political correctness and a desire to be “very multicultural.”
William Oddie, a former editor of The Catholic Herald who is a lifelong fan of the Chronicles of Narnia series, charged that Neeson had committed “a betrayal of Lewis’s intention and a shameful distortion.”
“Aslan is clearly established from the very beginning of the whole canon as being a Christ figure. I can’t believe that Liam Neeson is so stupid as not to know.”
Lewis himself characterized Aslan as an invented imaginary answer to the question “What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?”
“The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” will be released in the U.K. on Dec. 9 and in the U.S. on Dec. 10.