Feast of St Athanasius of Mount Athos
MY FAMILY'S copy of The Chronicles of Narnia is looking weathered on our shelf.
At first, my wife and I read the books aloud to one another for entertainment as newlyweds living on a budget in an expensive city. Next, our oldest son heard them before bed at 5 and 6 years old. He has since read them all himself. And sometimes, family movie-night is a Narnia movie, requiring quick references in the books to check for accuracy.
I’ve heard it said that The Chronicles of Narnia tales are too explicit, too simplistic in their analogy. Yet Lewis’s poignancy strikes me each time I encounter any of the Narnian accounts. The author seems to pry into the very heart of his reader. For an adult, this can be quite surprising. I was enjoying the adventure story with my kindergartener and it happened—descriptions simple enough for a child to understand (Spring is coming! Aslan returns!) with truth that can speak to a heart of any age (He is good, but is he safe?).
I’ve noticed as a parent that expecting my children to choose the good “because it’s the right thing to do” is a laugh. How refreshing, then, when a story captures their imaginations, and suddenly they “get it.” They grasp the beauty in Reepicheep’s earnest loyalty to Aslan. Or, that gluttony and selfishness are truly ugly, thanks to Edmund’s desire for Turkish Delight. And the tales of Old Narnia, they are to be held onto and passed along despite their foolishness.
Thank you, Lewis, for making my job as a parent a bit simpler. And for reminding this theologian of truths, shared in such a delightful way.
Charles Raith II is Director of the Paradosis Center for Theology and Scripture and Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at John Brown University.