Lower VI R.E.

Posted: 26th April 2022

Was Jesus a Game Changer?

Ms Corkery, Head of Religious Education, reports on life in Lower VI as they study R.E.:

“In Core R.E. lessons, Lower VI have been exploring the extent to which Jesus was a game changer. They have explored Jesus’ influence from a number of key perspectives, including his contribution to equality and the status of women and children in society. They have also discussed the influence of Christianity on important figures such as William Wilberforce who, inspired by Christian values and the Bible, campaigned for the abolition of the slave trade.

This year Lucy in Lower VI has written an interesting and novel essay on the influence of the life of Jesus and his teaching on literature and film, including Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings. Well done to Lucy on doing her own independent research for this assignment. Enjoy the read!”

“Was Jesus a Game Changer? By Lucy, Lower VI

Whether you believe Jesus is the Son of God or not, there is no denying the impact that he has had on our culture, our society, and our ethical systems. He challenged society’s view on women, slavery, and children, and his teachings influenced others who went on to effect change – such as William Wilberforce, the leader of the movement to abolish the slave trade in Britain. However, in this article I would like to focus on the effect that Jesus has had on our culture – particularly the impact his life has had on famous literary works and films.

The life of Jesus has influenced countless literary works, for example: the Chronicles of Narnia; Harry Potter; and Les Miserables are all influenced by the life of Jesus and Christian teaching. In C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the mystical lion – Aslan – is killed by the evil White Witch. Before he is killed, he is mercilessly humiliated, taunted, and tortured. He does nothing to strike back or defend himself. The next morning, Aslan is resurrected and saves those who have previously been hurt by the White Witch. Sound familiar? Aslan’s story echoes the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Jesus – like Aslan – was humiliated and tortured before his death and, when he resurrected (just as Aslan saved the lives of many in Narnia) Jesus saved the souls of sinners everywhere. Similarly, J.K Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows has themes of redemption and sacrifice running throughout. In the final book, Harry willingly goes to be killed by Lord Voldemort, trusting that his death will save the lives of his friends and family. He is seemingly killed by Voldemort but, after a short time, comes back to life and saves the wizarding world. This story of willing death, resurrection, and sacrifice bringing protection echoes the Christian story of Jesus Christ dying on the cross and being resurrected on the third day to save us all from sin. Finally, the French novel, Les Miserables, also has a theme of redemption as Jean Valjean is given a second chance by a bishop and goes on to save and improve the lives of many others during times of revolution in France. Therefore, it can be argued that the life of Jesus – particularly his death and resurrection, and the redemption brought about by this –  has had a significant influence on many great literary works.

Jesus’ life has also significantly influenced many classic films. Since we have already spoken about C.S Lewis’, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, it seems only right that we look at the film series based on J.R.R Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It was in fact Tolkien who brought Lewis out of his crisis of faith while they were both members of the same literary group at Oxford – perhaps we would not have the Chronicles of Narnia if it were not for Tolkien! Nevertheless, while the two were good friends, Tolkien did not think much of Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. He felt that the Christian themes and messages in his contemporary’s novel were far too strong. He felt that Lewis beat the reader over the head with his symbols referring to Jesus. While there is no missing the fact that Aslan is a symbol for Christ, the Christian themes imbued in Tolkien’s books are buried more deeply. We can see these Christian themes in the film adaptations of his novels. Gandalf is one of the characters in The Lord of the Rings who can be seen to have Christ-like qualities. He lays down his life for his friends, and then returns from death having seen heaven. Like Jesus, when Gandalf comes back from the dead he has great power and purity. This transformation is shown in the film through his brilliantly white clothes – his change from Gandalf the Grey to Gandalf the White. Yet again, as we have seen in novels, sacrificial death followed by glorious resurrection is a common theme in many great works.

In conclusion, it can be argued that there is no disputing the fact that Jesus was a game changer. His life has motivated countless numbers of people to create, to inspire, and to effect change. You cannot escape his influence; it has permeated almost every aspect of our society in some way. Literature, the law, music, film, education, even science have all been changed in some way as a result of Jesus’ teachings and life.”

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