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Walking into the Wardrobe

October 2nd, 2005 · 3 Comments

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Around the time I saw Darren Barefoot’s link to The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe trailer, my family had started reading through The Chronicles of Narnia, sitting on the sofa together after supper to listen to a chapter or two before bedtime. Thursday night we finished The Last Battle. I think both Ted and I had tears in our eyes. Abigail’s started reading them by herself and has sped through five already. The set we have is the same set Ted read as a child.

Like Abigail, I read the books for the first time by myself at age seven. Back then, I don’t think I saw much in the stories beside strange creatures and English children. But this time as an adult, I am seeing inside these Chronicles and seeing inside myself with wide eyes.

The past few years have been difficult ones for my faith. There’s been tearing and wrestling inside my soul. Reacting to revelations and painful situations, I wandered and I wondered whether my faith had been a fantasy, whether the spiritual beings of my belief were as imaginary as unicorns and fauns and wardrobes that lead into other worlds. I wanted to walk away from it all and say goodbye to God.

But now thanks to C.S. Lewis’s storytelling, I’m enchanted by God again. I find myself drawn to the Narnian Lion. I love the symbolic illustrations painted by Lewis’s imagination. Is Jesus as gentle as Aslan? Is he as compassionate? Is he as present? My own picture of Jesus through recent circumstances is more fierce beast than understanding friend, more devourer than deliverer.

The Chronicles are challenging and changing me. The stories are becoming a part of my story. Like the children in the stories – and the three in my family – I find myself growing fond of this catlike King, longing to throw my arms around his mane in an act of intimacy, gratitude and affection. Instead of walking away, I’m walking into the wardrobe, taking steps towards God. Thanks to fantasy, I’m finding a faith that is real to me during my days… and in the nights we spend snuggled on the sofa listening to the story, kids cuddled in my lap.

As an Aslan fan, I’m also intrigued to hear the (beloved) song of that name written by Kendall Payne (review of her opening act show ) which I’ve seen mentioned in blogs recently.

We are definitely looking forward to the movie! In anticipation, we’ve found the BBC’s late 1980s version of a few of the chronicles, While lacking a budget and modern special effects, the films are still fun. Thanks to Darren for letting us know the new movie will be here in December!

bonus link: See Jay McCarthy’s reviews of C.S. Lewis books, including The Chronicles of Narnia

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3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 DrErnie // Oct 3, 2005 at 10:10 am

    > thanks to C.S. Lewis’s storytelling, I’m enchanted by God again

    Great to hear. I wonder if it was C.S. Lewis who said maturity is allowing yourself to be disillusioned without become disenchanted…

  • 2 Katy // Oct 6, 2005 at 4:54 pm

    Mike just read through them again too.
    If I had to choose, I would pick the first one as my favorite, The Magician’s Nephew. Those who only know of The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe are surprised to hear there is a pre-quel. That first one explained to me God’s grace as I’ve never understood before. It also showed how His plan for man is perfect.

    Our church is sponsoring a screening of the movie – if you are in the area, it’s free…

    “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you…”

  • 3 Walker // Oct 7, 2005 at 11:35 am

    As a child, I read only The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, so when I read the chronicles to my son four years ago, most of it was for the first time. There’s always some danger in reading something for the first time to your child. All in all I enjoyed the series, but The Last Battle bothered me a lot, and in one instance I found myself actually editing a sentence, one which betrayed to me an underlying (and I know this sounds harsh) racism. I doubt I’d be able to pick out the passage without reading the whole thing again, and maybe it wouldn’t even strike me the same way, but beyond the tribal/skin color thing, I was generally put off by the strength of the allegory in The Last Battle. There was some consolation in the grace which was available to the character from the other race whose personal experience of his faith was not antithetical to the “true way”, but my own Universalism is just too much at odds with Lewis’ reconciliation with Christianity for me not to be put off by his anti-Universalism. Still Lewis was a powerful intellect and a master story teller, so I don’t dismiss him lightly.

    P.S. My “Universalism” is NOT a claim that all religions are equally true, just that all attempt with varying degrees of success to give their adherents access to universal and spiritual truths.

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