Summary: Short sermon on the relationship between wonder, nostalgia and Narnia and why it is important to know that relationship.
CONSIDER THE WONDER:
THOUGHTS ON NOSTALGIA BASED ON C.S. LEWIS’S NOVEL
THE LION, THE WITCH & THE WARDROBE
© Kent Suter
Cornerstone Bible Church: Lilburn, GA
The Wonder of Nostalgia
I can’t think of one person who doesn’t enjoy some sort of nostalgia in their walk through life. While some may deny the enjoyment of it, nostalgia comes in various forms: recalling all of the “remember when” stories when you get together with old friends, enjoying the mesmerizing glow of a campfire, fishing with your grandfather, or simply hearing a song on the radio that takes you back to a special moment in your life.
Whatever the form, we all seem to enjoy nostalgia. In fact, some like it so much that they build their entire lives around those moments. In my opinion, one of the largest reasons for the success of Starbucks® is that it creates an aesthetically pleasing and nostalgic atmosphere within its walls that makes people want to come back. It has great colors, great music (most of which can be attributed to Louie Armstrong), and most of all, is the starting point of some truly great memories (the caffeine always helps, too).
Likewise, there are the avid movie goers whose sole purpose in life seems to be to see the next big blockbuster. Now don’t get me wrong. I get caught up in the enjoyment of the big screen just as much as anyone else. But there are those we all know who won’t miss even a single new movie to come down the pike. Why? Because they so love the nostalgic atmosphere that is created in a movie that they just keep going back for more.
The Wonder of Another World
To piggy back on this a bit, without a doubt the new movie based on C.S. Lewis’ world of Narnia is going to be quite an experience for people of all backgrounds. In fact, I believe it will be a double-whammy on the “nostalgic meter” of our souls. The reasons for this are many:
1. The story appeals to our imaginations in vivid ways. Everyone loves to imagine what it would be like if there were another world within our grasp.
2. There is an evil to be shunned and a good to be emraced.
3. There is prophecy involved. Everyone is amazed by prophecy.
4. There are talking animals, which appeals to many childhood fantasies of talking friends/animals.
5. The story is now available on the big screen, which conjures up all of the potentially wonderful feelings our soul enjoys when engaged in a good movie.
While there are probably dozens more reasons to list, I hope you can grasp the picture I am trying to paint: there is something deeper below all of this; something which is appealing to the very core of our being that we can’t quite put a finger to, but we know is there. Narnia is not just a fairy tale locked up in a book. It is the representation of our longing for the True Country that God has designed us to seek – Heaven. Just as it is true that He has written His Law on the hearts of every person (Rom. 2:12-15), the same can be said of our earnest longing for another World. Nostalgia not only looks to the past, but to the future possibility of joy in this other World.
You see, we were not created to stay on this earth forever, nor were we designed to have complete satisfaction here. The author of Hebrews said it well when he said that the patriarchs of old (viz., Abraham and his descendants) recognized that they “were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland . . . a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them” (Heb. 11:13-14, 16, NKJV). Abraham was specifically looking and waiting “for a city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Heb. 11:10).
In essence, this is why Narnia is loved by so many. In this story, Lewis recognizes the existence of another world – a world in which Good and Evil are warring profusely. But the deeper question still remains: Why do we enjoy stories of Good vs. Evil? I believe it is because God has put inside us not only the desire for another Country, but also the desire to see Good overcome Evil, especially when accomplished in the face of impossible odds. The protagonist vs. the antagonist, so to speak. That is why a story without an antagonist of some sort is generally a flop. A great story makes you think that from the look of things, Evil appears to clearly have the upper hand; but in the end Good ultimately (and often unexpectedly) seizes the victory.