Thursday, January 7, 2010

C.S. Lewis's genius

As a child, I loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (hereafter LWW). Perhaps not being overburdened with a desire to see beyond the obvious, I really didn't see the Christian symbolism, just the story. Until it was pointed out to me, then I was like, duh. Anyway, although I loved LWW and had the whole series, I only read the others once and didn't like them. And so, I grew.

Two days ago, I decided that although I was a very fabulous child and I like my child-self, perhaps I ought not simply believe her likes and dislikes are the same as my likes and dislikes. So I reread all the books (except Prince Caspian, which apparently has been lost). Wow. Just, wow.

Of course this time I was looking hard for the symbolism. Here are some of my favorites from the last book, The Last Battle.

1. At the very end the Beasts (Talking Beasts) and men come to Aslan, the Christ figure, who is standing in the door to heaven (for he employs no servant there). Upon looking in his face, they either come through the stable door to heaven, or don't. One of the people who makes it in was a man from an enemy country of Narnia. All his life he wished to see Tash, who was his god but a devil. Aslan says "All service Thou hast done to Tash I account as being done to me." This because the man was good, following the best light he knew, and was honest and true about it. And yet, if a person does evil in the name of Aslan, it is accounted as having been done to Tash and Tash rewards him.

2. Lucy says, when in the stable that contains a whole world, "In our world, too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world too."

3. Some dwarves have come through the door, but refuse to see the world. They only see that they are in a dark stable. Instead of smelling fresh air and flowers they smell sour straw and manure. Aslan gives them a feast and they taste rotten turnips and stale water. Telestial Kingdom, anyone?

4. Okay, this is from the first book, The Magician's Nephew. The nephew's mother is dying, and he wants to steal an apple (from the Tree of Life) to heal his mother, but chooses not to. Aslan commends him, and tells him although the stolen apple would have healed his mother, it would be a cursed life for both the mother and the son. The nephew (okay, I forget his name) was so sad as he looked as Aslan, and saw in Aslan's eyes the same sadness he felt. He saw Aslan was as sad as he was himself about his mother's illness. Then Aslan gives him an apple--not stolen, but freely given, that cures his mother. I love the part about Aslan feeling just as sad for our sorrows as we do. Jesus wept.

I have a lot more thoughts on this, but they need to simmer for awhile.

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