I’ll be straight with you from the off, I am biased. My dad used to read the Narnia books to me as a child and I grew up watching the BBC adaptations. As a student I read C S Lewis’ ‘adult’ books, the ‘Screwtape letters’, ‘Mere Christianity’ and ‘Surprised by Joy’. I am a bit of a C S Lewis junkie and to be honest when I heard that there was to be a new film adaptation of the Narnia chronicles I was much more excited than a 25 year old really should be.
Based on what I have just told you it probably will not surprise you to know that I love the new Narnia films that have come out. What it may surprise you to know is that I actually enjoyed revisiting the Narnia books more than I enjoyed reading them the first time round.
The Christian input into these books is no secret and the similarities between Aslan’s death on the stone table in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe and Jesus’ death on the cross in the Bible is well documented. But what C S Lewis has to say about life goes so much deeper than a simple retelling of the Easter story using lions and witches rather than Gods and Devils.
As a child I was spoilt for magic and adventure. Children have so many different opportunities to experience magic and wonder. Harry Potter, Enid Blyton and the Farway Tree (is my age showing?), Doctor Who, The Worst Witch, Thunderbirds, they all give children the opportunity to wonder and imagine excitement. They can watch or read these things then go to the bottom of the garden and be one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or a Thundercat or whatever. But what about us adults? Where is our magic and adventure?
Revisiting Narnia for me was a chance to revisit adventure and excitement, but more than that, because of the parallels with everyday life that I now, as an adult see it is a reminder that all those childish things I longed for are still there.
Prince Caspian is a story about how the magic and the wonder of Narnia has been oppressed and hidden by the dominant ‘Telmarines’ Could these ‘Telmarines’ be analogies for all the adult things that get in the way of real adventure and excitement?
Children’s books are full of characters who flee their life in search of action and adventure. We grow up sympathising with these characters, and yet, when we are old enough to have adventures we don’t turn into them.
Why don’t I sit in my shed all day solving crimes like the secret 7? Because I am at work (in order to pay the rent and put the food on the table). Why aren’t I designing submarines to explore the ocean depths like Troy Tempest in Stringray? Because the living room needs to be tidied.
I enjoyed revisiting Narnia because it reminded me that life is not mundane. There is a battle going on. That eternal good vs. evil battle is forever raging. Maybe you want to visualise it as God vs. the devil maybe you don’t, but it is raging. It is raging in the trenches of Afghanistan and Iraq, but it is also raging in the shops as people decide whether they want to buy the fair trade bananas or the cheap ones. It is raging in the pubs as people decide whether to spread dirt about their ‘friend’ or not. It is happening in the railways as people weigh up whether or not to pay for their ticket.
This battle is happening all around, and it is exciting because we have a mighty warrior leader. Every time Aslan speaks in the Narnia books my heart skips a beat. I’m 25 and I will admit it now, I love Aslan, because he is good. He is strong, he is powerful, he is loving. Reading those books makes you realise that Aslan is the person you want with you in any battle.
The Voyage of the Dawn Tredder ends with Edmond and Lucy being told by Aslan that they are to leave Narnia and never come back. They are to return to our world.
‘It isn’t Narnia you know’ sobbed Lucy ‘It’s you. We shan’t meet you there. And how shall we live, never meeting you?’
‘But you shall meet me, dear one’ said Aslan
‘Are-are you there too, Sir?’ said Edmond
‘I am’ said Aslan ’But there I Have another name’
Christian Ditchfield, tells in the forward of his book ‘A Family guide to Narnia’ of a girl named Hilda who, having read that passage wrote to CS Lewis asking him to tell her Aslan’s name in this world. C S Lewis responded:
‘Well I want you to guess. Has there been anyone in this world who:
1) Arrived at the same time as Father Christmas
2) Said he was the son of the great Emperor
3) Gave himself up for someone else’s fault to be jeered and killed by wicked people
4) Came to life again
I love the Narnia Chronicles, because C S Lewis reminds me that living as a Christian is the adventure and the excitement that I always wanted to have when I grew up. It also reminds me that Jesus represents all of the adventure and excitement that I often give up in favour of paying bills, buying kitchen utensils and putting the bins out.
And he (Jesus) said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 18 v 3