By C.S. Lewis
The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe : It has taken me decades – literally – to finally pick up another C.S. Lewis book and read it. In high school I read Lewis’ book, “That Hideous Strength” and completely missed Lewis’ message. One decade later I read Lewis’ “Mere Christianity” and fully understood what Lewis was saying. With The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, part of C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series, the gospel message is clearly made evident in an allegorical/mystical style. Lewis used the Narnia series to explain Christ’s love for humankind to children, who are the series’ principal readers.
This first novel in a series of seven books is currently a major motion picture now completing a successful run on theatre screens across the U.S. I have yet to see the movie, a Disney production, but I understand that it holds very true to Lewis’ storyline. I expect to see the movie before it leaves theatres later this month; it will become available on DVD this April.
Back to the story! The theme of “The Lion” centers around four children, the Pevensie siblings, who get caught up in a land of magic. Entering “Narnia” through a wardrobe (a tall cabinet that holds clothes) — located in a home where they are boarding — the children enter a land where it is always winter, but never Christmas. Under the spell of the White Witch, Narnia is forever in the grip of evil. The land is occupied by talking animals (beavers, for one), spirits, goblins, sprites, but no humans. That is until Lucy Pevensie shows up followed by her brother Edmund and, later, Susan and Peter.
Quite obviously the White Witch a/k/a the Queen of Narnia is most interested in humans so she resorts to all sorts of magic and trickery to lure them in. Edmund, the most impressionable of the siblings, is quickly captivated by the White Witch and then sets out to betray the others.
Without giving away the storyline, the theme of Narnia clearly reflects the captivity of this present world under Satan, but its past and future deliverance through Jesus Christ. In the form of a lion, Aslan, Lewis brings a savior to Narnia who eventually releases the land from its winter grip and vanquishes the White Witch.
For those unfamiliar with the gospel message, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may be hard to follow. However, Lewis wrote the book in 1950 immediately after the horrors of Word War II and with the Nazi air battle for London fresh in the minds of British citizenry. Lewis may have been responding to a strong spiritual hunger of his time when he wrote the series as “Narnia” successfully points seekers to Aslan, much as the Bible points readers to Jesus Christ.
I am not sure if I will read the remaining six books in this series, but I am definitely interested in exploring several other writings of Lewis.
C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams were contemporaries who were a part of a group of writers and intellectuals known as The Inklings who met during the 1930s and 1940s at a public house in Oxford. Tolkien, like Lewis, used Christian allegory in many of his writings including, The Lord of the Rings, another series of books that was recently released as a major motion picture.
Clearly, the renewed interest in C.S. Lewis’ works is a positive step especially for a generation of children not familiar with the gospel message. Disney, for their part, is interested in developing the remaining six books of the series into individual movies. So, expect Narniamania – as some have called it – to continue unabated for many years to come.