Reflections on the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis
Simon Lewis 6th April 2020
“Whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Philippians 4 v 8
I am currently reading to my children at bedtimes The Chronicles of Narnia and it is an absolute delight. C. S. Lewis has created a rich and vivid world that has permeated our culture like few other books. The words Narnia or wardrobe are synonymous with stepping out of our world and entering a different place. In the current circumstances in which we find ourselves, being shut in for extended periods of time, I would warmly recommend entering or re-visiting Narnia. The narrative of these books is true escapism from our world and there will be times, during the restrictions that the coronavirus places on us, when for our mental health and to seek solace, we will need to delve into the imaginations that God has given us and others.
I am a primary teacher and I have used The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as an example of classic children’s literature in teaching at school, so in writing this, I am aware that not everyone will have read these books. Indeed, I inadvertently spoiled the climax of the story with a colleague who was teaching with me at the time, only to find that she was currently reading it to stay one step ahead of the children and knew nothing of the storyline.
So from this point, there will be spoilers! So, if you have yet to read these books, stop reading now and come back when you know what Narnia is about.
Whilst these books are literally about escaping reality, they are grounded in the ultimate reality of Jesus Christ. Whilst The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe vividly paints the allegory of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, where Aslan takes the place of one of the children, what has really warmed my heart in revisiting Narnia are the other pictures of Jesus through these books. These have not happened through diligent study and cross-referencing, but have leapt from the page as I have been swept along by the narrative.
Beginning with the Magician’s Nephew, we are shown the song of creation and as Aslan sings, it speaks of Jesus where, “all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1 v 16 & 17.
In the Horse and His Boy, Shasta and Bree make their way to Narnia and all through the journey, unbeknownst to them, Aslan is guiding and leading them. Sometimes this is difficult and scary and sometimes this is easier, but all this leads Shasta to realise his true nature and true calling. Jesus calls to us and leads us through all the circumstances of life, whilst some can wonderfully point to a moment of conversion, the reality is that God has been calling and shaping us into his children through the whole of our life. “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23. The story of the restoration of Shasta to his true place can be read as a story of salvation from one in a piteous condition to one who is a child of God.
Prince Caspian is the most recent book I have read and the wonderful reviving work of Jesus is shown through Aslan’s journey with Susan and Lucy through Narnia. “You shall go out with joy and be led forth in peace; … and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”
In seeking a break from our current circumstances with something that, speaking personally, has refreshed my heart, I would recommend these books. C. S. Lewis has not written perfect books, but he is someone who knows Jesus and this comes through in this writing. On the surface they are simply brilliant reads, they have the power to keep a class of children utterly spellbound for an hour as we reached the climax of the story. However the allegory and glimpses of Jesus has power to speak deeper.