Saturday, December 18, 2010

Narnia: a holiday treat

I never thought of myself as a particularly enthusiastic  Narnia fan. When the movie came out five years ago I chuckled, enjoyed it and mentioned to John I wouldn't mind rereading "Lion, Witch and Wardrobe" as I had done in my childhood. Little did I know this would become my most treasured holiday gift!
At Christmas in 2005 I received the boxed set of all seven books. You'll remember that in 2005 John and I were first dating and didn't know each other all that well. I guess he took my admiration for the Narnia series more seriously than I did. I never expected (nor did I really want) all seven books. But, boy was this a lucky mistake.
Now, five years later I've just finished the fifth book in the series and am thoroughly excited and anticipating the movie. Voyage is by far the best book in the series. The allegorical similarity to the Bible is so striking it touched me on a very deep level and made me read with fascination of not wanting to put the book down.
As the children and the ship move through the islands surrounding Narnia looking for their lost Lords, they experience events that closely parallel the Bible. Now, I'm not one to believe everything I hear or jump on the bandwagon but I have to say this: If Francis Collins, head of NIH (currently) can have faith without empirical evidence to back it up then so can I. Period. So I digress back to my point.
There is a section where a particularly disagreeable character turns into a dragon by his own greediness only to be transformed in character through suffering until Aslan converts him back into a human again. He is a new person in character.There is a section where Lucy uses magic to remove a spell placed on a group of people who have become invisible. This section is rather like  Harry Potter meets Disney or Harry Potter goes to church section. It explores the fantasy of magic combined with underlying themes of how emotions like fear are handled. The whole issue of fear is explored on a deep level: does fear hold us back from doing things that are really not all that daunting? What is fear and how does it control us? It is fear that nearly prevents Lucy and friends from intervening here- only to find out that it was fear itself that was the worst danger in this situation.
My favorite part is exploration of the end of the world. In this part there is an image of the lion laying down with the lamb (Biblical prophecy) and then the ocean turning into a sea of lilies. And along the way a discovery of a whole people group living underwater like humans. The whole notion of the unknown is  powerfully explored with their discovery of the uniqueness of the environment.  Nothing seems to work the way it does in Narnia or on earth for that matter.  And then at the end Reepicheep takes his own individual boat by himself to explore the absolute ends of the earth while Lucy, Edmond and Eustace suddenly find themselves back at his aunt's house on the floor of the living room.
CS Lewis is such a treat. I'm growing to appreciate him more and more. Perhaps I'll reread Dawn Treader when I have time.