Archives, Biography, Pondering, Wheaton

Narnia Revisited

If its been awhile since you have been immersed in Narnia, I heartily recommend it as an anecdote for that sluggishness of soul that so easily creeps up on us.

Narnia has been in my teaching repertoire for several years now. In 2003 I began to teach a class called “The Seven Deadly Sins in the Local Church.” It was a week- intensive, and by the end, my students and I were almost as dead as the title. Let’s just say it needed some windows–a space outside ourselves that enables us to understand ourselves with more clarity.

Just after that initial course I picked up an intriguing piece by Professor Don King, who wrote an article entitled “Narnia and the Seven Deadly Sins.” It gave me some windows from which to gaze both at the world and at my soul, and I have never looked back in coupling Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia with the Seven Deadly Sins.

But ah, being a teacher allows me to bring out treasure new as well as old, and this time around the course is being highly influenced by Planet Narnia, a fairly new book by Michael Ward that puts a whole new spin on things. I won’t spoil this amazing book for those of you who have not yet read it. But I do want to draw out one theme: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is highly infected by the spirit of joy.

And with the joy that exudes from Aslan and from his kingdom of Narnia itself (winter melts, for heaven’s sake), comes a lovely thing: the children are called into their true, majestic selves in two major ways: one, they are given gifts. Two, they are given a name. First, the gifts. Peter receives a shield and sword; Susan, a horn and a bow and arrows, and Lucy, a diamond bottle of healing cordial. Edmund? Not present at this moment, he receives his gifts at anothe r time: the gift of repentance, forgiveness and restoration. And then, the children are given names: Peter the Magnificent, Susan the Gentle, Lucy the Valiant…and Edmund the Just. Perhaps the other children’s gifts were more visible, but Edmund’s is no less critical to the whole. “Edmund was a graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment.” Even Edmund’s name is redemptive.

So all ends well in the Golden Age of Narnia. The children are set into their places and become kings and queens in Narnia. They wield the sword and give counsel, they are called at need and bring healing with them. Their gifts bring freedom and joy to Narnia, and the kingdom blesses them back in countless ways.

And this mythic tale infects the readers as well. Grace pours from these books as we come to know Aslan through the eyes of children. For we, too, receive gifts and a name. “I make the sign of the cross on your forehead. You are marked as God’s child forever.” Sometimes imaginary tales are the bearers of the deepest truths. Long live Narnia and the truth it contains.

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