C. S. Lewis, the most popular writer of theology and literature in the English-speaking world, wrote seven children's books called Chronicles of Narnia. He said, "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man, I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
The Chronicles of Narnia are not Christian code books. Non-Christians can read them with no violation of their religious commitments. People with philosophical interests can read them for the themes Lewis draws from Plato and Boethius. Jews and Muslims can relish the values and themes they share with their Christian friends.
Lewis wrote: "I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion since childhood. Why did one find it so hard to feel as one was told one ought to feel about God or about the sufferings of Christ? I thought the chief reason was that one was told one ought to. An obligation to feel can freeze feelings. And reverence itself did harm. The whole subject was associated with lowered voices, almost as if it were something medical. But suppose by casting all these things into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency? Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could.
What many well-meaning Christians are doing in their enthusiasm for the Chronicles of Narnia, is obliging children to feel about Aslan and the other characters and adventures in the Chronicles and are thus perpetuating the very situation that Lewis wrote the Chronicles to avoid."
The best way to read the Chronicles for children and adults is to enter into the feelings evoked by the stories. When reading, they should surrender to the portrayals of the talking animals and mythological beings; they should shiver with the cold of Narnian winter and soak in the colors and sounds of Narnian spring, and they should worry about leaving their parents and London homes during the Blitz to go live in a big old house in the country.
Please bring your copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
If you need a copy of the book, you may purchase one through Padre Serra. The book is $8.
Over 100 people gathered to journey through the classic The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe with CS Lewis expert Dr. Paul Ford on October 18.
About Dr. Paul Ford:
Dr. Paul F. Ford, a Professor of Theology and Liturgy at St. John's Seminary, Camarillo, has been reading C. S. Lewis since 1962 and has become an internationally recognized expert on the life and writings of C. S. Lewis and author of the award-winning book, Companion to Narnia, and of the Pocket Companion to Narnia. His other Lewis-related publications are Yours, Jack: Spiritual Direction from C. S. Lewis, and Words To Live By: A Dictionary for the Mere Christian.
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