While we’re talking about Philip Pullman’s Dark Materials trilogy and its role (or non-role) as a way to expose kids to the good news about atheism, I thought I’d mention another series of books that, in its own way, played a huge role in my own deconversion: CS Lewis’s famous Chronicles of Narnia.
Narnia is a series of books designed to expose impressionable children to mainstream Christian theology in the guise of a cute, heroic fairy tale complete with cuddly talking animals, dashing deeds of daring-do, and (as bad guys) a host of witches, boogeymen, and evil magicians. The true hero of the series, however, is the great Lion, Aslan. Aslan appears in all the books, and is quite transparently the Jesus character–he even dies to save the life of a traitorous brother, and then rises from the dead to destroy evil and make all the good little boys and girls into kings and queens ruling over a millennial realm for, well, not a thousand years, but until they’ve grown up and become good and wise rulers. At the end of their adventures, they go back home and turn into kids again, but some of them get to return for various sequels, and others meet new characters who tie in succeeding volumes, and so on.
So how did this lovely series of faithful, readable, Christian fantasies lead me a way from Christ? In a word: Aslan.