Monday, November 19, 2012

Self-fulfilled Prophecy

As a non-topic preface: My sister recently pointed out how scary it can be to publicly share your ideas - whether writing a blog post, commenting on a blog post, or arguing on Facebook. She was referencing a post I had shared on Facebook by a fellow at Patheos named Bob whose recent post on Christianity as an Adult Activity got severely criticized in the comments section. Bob has a lot of readers. I do not. And sometimes I'm happy about that...

Okay. Here I go, sharing my ideas with the three or four of you. (grits teeth) I welcome your criticism...

I've been enjoying Anna Mardoll's re-read and criticisms of the Chronicles of Narnia so far. Admittedly, they've left a bit of my nostalgia in tatters, but that's not always a bad thing. Sometimes it's good to wake up and smell the coffee. At the end of each book, she watches the movies (BBC version and Walden/Disney/20th-Century-Fox version) and comments on those as well. Her most recent post was about Walden/Disney's adaption of Prince Caspian. You should read it! And especially the little links she has here and there to some pretty hilarious critiques of the movie.

There was one quote from the movie that she mentioned that stuck out to me, and it is a line spoken by Trumpkin after Peter expresses amazement that what looked to be a talking Bear simply wasn't:

"Get treated like a dumb animal long enough, that's what you become."

I'm pretty sure this line was not in the book, although there is a similar idea in The Last Battle. There, Ginger the Cat, having entered the stable and encountered the evil god Tash, and, running for his life, ceases to become a Talking Cat. And this is exactly what Aslan says might happen to the Talking Beasts way back at the Creation of Narnia, back in The Magician's Nephew, if they stop acting like Talking Beasts:

"Treat [the Dumb Beasts] gently and cherish them but do not go back to their ways lest you cease to be Talking Beasts. For out of them you were taken and into them you can return. Do not so."

There's a pretty big difference between Lewis' concept of reversion to Dumb Beast's and Disney-Trumpkin's. Lewis stipulates that the onus is on the Talking Beasts to remain Talking Beasts, whereas Trumpkin puts the blame for the sad state of affairs squarely on the oppressors of the Talking Beasts - the ones who continue to treat them as Dumb so that they eventually act that way.

What's my point?

I think kids (and people in general, I guess, but especially kids) tend to become what they're told they are, even if they weren't that way in the beginning. It seems common knowledge that if you call your kids stupid, they just might behave that way. Tell them they're unworthy sinners long enough, that's what they become?

Is a person who has done stupid things Stupid?
Is a person who has stolen a Thief?
Is a person who has sinned a Sinner?

Be careful of applying labels to people because of single snapshots of their lives. They may just become the label.
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