Summary: Can the words of this inspired author take us to a place of deeper, yet childlike faith in the story behind the story of Christmas, in a land called Narnia?
Narnia: Delivering a Grown Up Story to the Child Within
November 27, 2005
In a few days, in fact already, you will be subjected to a massive advertising campaign to urge you to take your children to see a new film, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.” The timing was no accident. The story begins in winter, and the approaching of Christmas figures heavily into its story, which in many ways is a Christmas story. It is no surprise that those who are taking the multi-million dollar gamble, those who would profit from it, will make seeing this movie, and buying all of the related theme merchandise and video games that it spawns, a key focus of this and many a Holiday season to come.
The surprise to many here this morning, is why on earth I should be standing in the Pulpit of a spirit-filled and Bible believing Church, urging every man, woman, and child, old and young, to go and see this film. Disney, after all, will not be compensating me for this endorsement.
Some would even point to scripture, and suggest that we should not trouble ourselves with any childish stories, after all,
1 Cor 13:11
11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.
Yet I would suggest some have misunderstood what was really being said here.
The Encarta Dictionary’s first and foremost definition of “Childish” is “Immature, showing a lack of emotional restraint, seriousness, good sense, maturity, or similar …qualities.”
That same Dictionary’s first definition of “childlike” is quite different. “Childlike: having the good qualities of a child, like a child, especially in having a sweet innocent unspoiled quality.”
Some have lost the childlikeness we should embrace, while trying to rid themselves of the childishness we should avoid. Quite literally they are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. C. S. Lewis had a way of helping us break through the foolishness of losing our childlikeness on our way to becoming grown up. He wrote: “When I was ten I read fairy stories in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”
Can the words of this inspired author take us to a place of deeper, yet childlike faith in the story behind the story of Christmas, in a land called Narnia?
In the preface to the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, he writes to his Goddaughter Lucy:
C. S. Lewis explains to his Goddaughter, and is doing so to us also, that is intended audience was both children and grown ups:
“To Lucy Barfield,
My dear Lucy,
I wrote this story for you, but when I began it, I had not realized that girls grow quicker than books. As a result you are already too old for fairy tales, and by the time it is printed and bound you will be older still. But some say you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again. You can then take it down from the upper shelf, dust it, and tell me what you think of it. I shall probably be too deaf to hear, and too old to understand a word you say, but I shall be
Your affectionate Godfather,
C. S. Lewis
So perhaps there is more reason than ever to study some of the works of my favorite Christian author from many years ago. I want to introduce you in a way you will find surprising, to an aspect of some of his abundant writings that are specifically important for Christians to understand and embrace today. For the most part, he has been best known for a good many very scholarly books, as he personally authored over 60 of them. He was so prolific in his writing, that only about two thirds of them were able to be published before he died, and over 20 more after his death.
Though praised for his literary skills, it is the power behind the stories, and the importance of the subject matter itself that have made his simplest stories important, timeless, and able to stand the test of time. It is so interesting to me, being a literary scholar myself, (B.A. in Literary Arts, magna cum laude) that learned scholars have earned doctorates as they poured over every word of his books for decades. And yet the most successful, memorable and powerful works were never meant to be the text books of theologians, literary masters, or history academics at all. They were written for a child to understand them, but for an adult to appreciate them.