Twenty-Five Days of Feelings: Day Nineteen

This year I’m undergoing a bit of an experiment: Thirty straight days of doing/watching/listening to/reading something that makes me feel – however fleetingly – like an actual human being, in the hopes that this will thaw a layer of ice off my frozen shriveled little heart, and allow me to not be such a buzzkill this year. So let’s get to it.

Day Nineteen: The Chronicles of Narnia

Alright so I’m back after a few days’ rest, and I gotta say guys, I’m getting tired. I’m not used to experiencing this much emotion in such a short time – unless it’s rage. I’m used to rage (specifically of the road variety). And more than tired, I’m just running out of things. I know what I have for my last day, but these last few days until then are gonna be rough. But then I remembered the glorious Chronicles of Narnia.

To be honest, there are a ton of C. S. Lewis books I could have done. Perelandra is this amazing allegory. It takes us to the surface of Venus, where God is starting a new work. The whole planet is a Garden of Eden, but with islands that float on the water. The Tree of Knowledge is solid ground it is forbidden to work on. The Serpent is a possessed man from Earth. We follow Ransom (the hero from the first book – Out of the Silent Planet) as he attempts to save the Eve-figure from the temptations of the possessed man. It’s really fascinating, and filled with incredible imagery, and really thought-inducing.

Then there’s Till We Have Faces, which is a re-telling of the Greek myth of Psyche and Cupid. It started out as a denunciation of the gods, but evolved into a beautiful affirmation of the Divine – reflecting Lewis’ own changing beliefs over the course of his life. It’s a story about love – how it can be possessive, cruel, blinding, and generally twisted, yet also redemptive, freeing, and one of the only things that matter. It discusses the Unseen vs. the Seen. It’s really hard to explain, but I highly recommend it.

But of course I had to go with Narnia. I mean, I’ve read the series probably a dozen times since I first read it in fourth grade.

If you don’t know, The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven books, all involving the world of Narnia – a land of mythological beasts, talking creatures, of magic both good and evil, of kings and queens and quests – all ruled by the great Lion Aslan. The first book, The Magician’s Nephew, was not actually written first, but details the creation of Narnia with some clear parallels to the Book of Genesis. The second – and most famous – The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobewas the first written. It introduces us to the Pevensie children, who are more-or-less the heroes of the series. It involves reclaiming Narnia from the clutches of The White Witch, who has trapped the world in perpetual winter (but never Christmas). It also parallels the Easter story to some degree. Then there’s The Horse and His Boy, which is in another country and only briefly includes the Pevensies, and is about a talking horse. It’s by far my least favorite. Prince Caspian is a story of reclaiming Narnia again – this time from corrupt men who have hunted the talking beasts and mythic creatures almost to extinction. It’s possibly my favorite, as it includes a rebellion of rag-tag figures who are hopelessly outclassed, the re-awakening of ancient forces, a duel or two, and time-dilation (sort of). Then comes The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is also a personal favorite. It revolves around a nautical quest to find unjustly-banished lords. Along the way they find various islands full of treasures, temptations, bizarre creatures, star people, magicians, and other odd things. It’s really weird, which is part of the reason I like it so much. Book Six is The Silver Chair, which used to be one of my least favorites. But as I’ve gotten older, it’s become apparent that it’s a really great allegory for living a Christian life, with lots of theological truths hidden throughout. The children are given a path by Aslan, but frequently allow distractions and temptations to knock them off course. Despite straying, however, Aslan continues to send them signs, and in the end they still get where he wants them – it was just harder and took longer. And finally there’s The Last Battle, which is pretty much the terrifying and confusing Book of Revelation, detailing the end of the world. It’s not a favorite, but it’s still super interesting.

Anyway, I’ve read these books more than any other. More than the Harry Potter series, more than my favorite comics, more than The Hunger Games or The Giver or anything else. They’re just so great. They are powerful stories. There’s a huge emphasis on redemption, as several characters begin the series as spoiled, cruel, sad, or unimaginative, but by the end are joyful, strong, kind, better people. There’s also a lot about temptation. Edmund is tempted by the Witch. Eustace is tempted by dragon’s treasure. Even Lucy – the best of them all – is tempted by magic that could make her beautiful. Sometimes the characters give in, and other times they hold fast – but either way they learn something.

At the end of the day, yes, these are children’s books. They’re morality tales to some degree, allegories to Christian teachings. But they’re also a whole lot of fun. There are wars, and quests, and dimension-hopping. There are enchanted weapons and magical creatures. There are evil villains that are truly evil. And there’s something to be said for that kind of purity – no shades of grey and sympathizing with them. No. Evil is beautiful on the surface but incredibly disgusting and repulsive just under that, and once you see it you never forget it. These books are fun, and positive, and I learn something every time I read them. They’re just beautiful tales that I intend to read to my children from Day One – before I give them Harry Potter or The Hobbit or even Alice and Oz. They’re the kind of thing kids should read, because it’s like a burst of light in an all-too-dark world.


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