Summary: Introduction to our Narnia Christmas series; coincided with the opening of the film The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. This message provided information regarding the author (C.S. Lewis) the basic story, the characters and specific themes
Narnia Christmas Series
“Begin the Journey”
Oakbrook Church 12/4/05
Intro.- The scenes and music start slowly; children standing by a train station, later playing a game of hide and seek at an old country mansion. A little girl climbs into a giant wardrobe and is magically transported to a winter wonderland. The orchestra swells louder and louder, as rapid fire images of knights, swords, a battle with mythical creatures, a larger than life roaring lion and regal kings and queens fill the screen. Between the images, words flash: “In this house...there are many rooms...there are many doors...but only one...leads to another world.”
Such is the opening of the epic film The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, taken from The Chronicles of Narnia, the C.S. Lewis classic. The film opens in Green Bay next Friday (Thursday at midnight for the adventuresome). We begin our Narnia journey today and during this Christmas season will we uncover the rich spiritual themes woven within this children’s fantasy.
The Author- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was written by one of the 20th century’s greatest and most well known Christian thinkers, Clive Staples Lewis (now you know why he’s known as C.S. Lewis). Actually, as a child he renamed himself “Jacksie” and later “Jack”. He was one of the most influential writers of the previous century. Translated into at least thirty languages, his works have sold more than two hundred million copies worldwide—100 million copies of the Narnia stories. Nearly all of Lewis’s thirty-eight books are still in print, and for decades they have sold more than a million copies a year around the globe.
Born in 1898 in Belfast to a middle-class, Protestant (Church of Ireland) family, his mother died when he was 7 and his father sent him to boarding school the next year. He learned to read classic literature in 5 languages. At 19, when he took the entrance exams for Oxford, his examiner stated that Lewis’ exams were “the best ever seen” in the history of Oxford. He fought briefly in World War I, graduated with a brilliant record from Oxford, and then taught English Literature there for nearly thirty years.
Although raised as a Christian, Lewis had, by his teens, become a "convinced atheist," considering Christianity on the same level as Norse mythology—and preferring the latter.
In a letter to a friend in Oct. 1916 he said, “I believe in no religion. There is absolutely no proof for any of them, and from a philosophical standpoint Christianity isn’t even the best. All religions, that is, all mythologies to give them their proper name, are merely man’s own invention.”
Through reading G. K. Chesterton and discussions with believers, Lewis became a Theist in his late twenties. He writes of his spiritual journey, "In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England." This from the one who later would became one of the twentieth-century’s leading Christian apologists, who in his words, came to Christianity “kicking and screaming”.
It took an amazing late-night conversation with J. R. R. Tolkien, to convince Lewis of the divinity of Christ. On September 19, 1931, Lewis finally accepted Christ when Tolkien convinced him that Christianity was not —as he had thought—only a myth, but a story that had actually happened. From then on, Lewis believed that the "myth" had indeed become fact, and as the Gospel of John so beautifully puts it, "the Word was made Flesh."
A couple of years later, Lewis, Tolkien, and some other friends formed the Inklings, a group that met several times a week—at Lewis’s and at a local pub, "The Eagle and Child"—they met to read their unpublished work aloud and to discuss matters of the moment. Many of Lewis’s books and much of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings were first read to and discussed by this highly literate group.
During WW 2, the British Broadcasting Company asked this quiet professor from Oxford to do a series of lectures on the radio. People were so enamored by those broadcasts that Lewis became the second most famous person in all of England, second only to Winston Churchill. His lectures were later published in a book entitled “Mere Christianity.” Which some would say is the most powerful explanation of Christianity outside the Bible itself.
The Story- The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is one of a 7 book series entitled The Chronicles of Narnia. When Lewis wrote The Lion... he had no thought of writing the others. And when he did write them, it was not in the chronological order of Narnian history. The Lion... was the first book written but is chronologically 2nd; The Magicians Nephew is chronologically first but was written 6th. (I sure wish someone had told me that back in 1974 when I first read them.) In terms of enjoying the books it really doesn’t matter, each book stands alone as its own complete story.