Forget Oz; go straight to Narnia, says books editor Laura Miller notes that while L. Frank Baum's The Wonderful Wizard of Oz celebrated its 100th anniversary this fall, C. S. Lewis's The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobecelebrated its 50th. But compare the two, she says, and it's no contest: "The literary gulf between The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is partly a matter of sheer talent; Baum never wrote a deft sentence, while Lewis excelled at them." But Miller also prefers Lewis because his book is dark, and he treats kids as "moral beings." Still, she's put off by the books' religious following: "The Christian elements in Lewis' work repel interesting critics and scholars—some of whom are still embarrassed about how much they liked his books as kids. (Lewis scholarship exists, but it's a hagiographic wasteland roamed by worshipful, third-rate Christian academics who see his work as something close to divine revelation.) Former fans often (mistakenly) dismiss his children's books as simple religious allegories, and the well-earned reputation that Christians have for smug proselytizing has tarnished much of Lewis' writing by association. It's a shame because The Chronicles of Narnia is a fascinating attempt to compress an almost druidic reverence for wild nature, Arthurian romance, Germanic folklore, the courtly poetry of Renaissance England and the fantastic beasts of Greek and Norse mythology into an entirely reimagined version of what's tritely called 'the greatest story ever told.' Even if you don't agree that it's the greatest story, it's still one of the great ones, and Lewis … not only set himself a mighty task but pulled it off."

Episcopal and Lutheran churches ...

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