The Chronicles of Narnia is a series of seven high fantasy novels by author C. S. Lewis. It is considered a classic of children's literature and is the author's best-known work, having sold over 100 million copies in 47 languages.[1][2] Written by Lewis between 1949 and 1954, illustrated by Pauline Baynes and originally published in London between October 1950 and March 1956, The Chronicles of Narnia has been adapted several times, complete or in part, for radio, television, the stage, and film.

Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician's Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle.

Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to adapting numerous traditional Christian themes, the books freely borrow characters and ideas from Greek and Roman mythology as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales. The books have profoundly influenced adult and children's fantasy literature since World War II. Lewis's exploration of themes not usually present in children's literature, such as religion, as well as the books' perceived treatment of issues including race and gender, has caused some controversy.

Although Lewis originally conceived what would become The Chronicles of Narnia in 1939,[3] he did not finish writing the first book The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe until 1949. The Magician's Nephew, the penultimate book to be published, but the last to be written, was completed in 1954. Lewis did not write the books in the order in which they were originally published, nor were they published in their current chronological order of presentation.[4] The original illustrator, Pauline Baynes, created pen and ink drawings for the Narnia books that are still used in the editions published today. Lewis was awarded the 1956 Carnegie Medal for The Last Battle, the final book in the saga. Fellow children's author Roger Lancelyn Green first referred to the series as The Chronicles of Narnia, in March 1951, after he had read and discussed with Lewis his recently completed fourth book The Silver Chair, originally entitled Night under Narnia.[5]

Lewis described the origin of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in an essay entitled "It All Began with a Picture":

The Lion all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood. This picture had been in my mind since I was about sixteen. Then one day, when I was about forty, I said to myself: 'Let's try to make a story about it.'[6]

Shortly before the start of World War II, many children were evacuated to the English countryside in anticipation of attacks on London and other major urban areas by Nazi Germany. As a result, on 2 September 1939, three school girls, Margaret, Mary and Katherine,[7] came to live at The Kilns in Risinghurst, Lewis' home three miles east of Oxford city centre. Lewis later suggested that the experience gave him a new appreciation of children and in late September[8] he began a children's story on an odd sheet of paper which has survived as part of another manuscript:

This book is about four children whose names were Ann, Martin, Rose and Peter. But it is most about Peter who was the youngest. They all had to go away from London suddenly because of Air Raids, and because Father, who was in the Army, had gone off to the War and Mother was doing some kind of war work. They were sent to stay with a kind of relation of Mother's who was a very old professor who lived all by himself in the country.[9]

In "It All Began With a Picture" C. S. Lewis continues:

At first I had very little idea how the story would go. But then suddenly Aslan came bounding into it. I think I had been having a good many dreams of lions about that time. Apart from that, I don't know where the Lion came from or why he came. But once he was there, he pulled the whole story together, and soon he pulled the six other Narnian stories in after him.[10]

The manuscript for The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was complete by the end of March 1949.

The name Narnia is based on Narni, Italy, written in Latin as Narnia. Lancelyn Green wrote:

When Walter Hooper asked [C. S. Lewis] where he found the word 'Narnia', Lewis showed him Murray's Small Classical Atlas, ed. G.B. Grundy (1904), which he acquired when he was reading the classics with Mr Kirkpatrick at Great Bookham [1914–1917]. On plate 8 of the Atlas is a map of ancient Italy. Lewis had underscored the name of a little town called Narnia, simply because he liked the sound of it. Narnia — or 'Narni' in Italian — is in Umbria, halfway between Rome and Assisi.[11]

The Chronicles of Narnia's seven books have been in continuous publication since 1956

The first five books were originally published in the United Kingdom by Geoffrey Bles. The first edition of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was released in London on 16 October 1950. Although three more books, Prince CaspianThe Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Horse and His Boy, were already complete, they were not released immediately at that time, but appeared (along with The Silver Chair) one at a time in each of the subsequent years (1951–1954). The last two books (The Magician's Nephew andThe Last Battle) were published in the United Kingdom originally by The Bodley Head in 1955 and 1956.[15][16]

In the United States, the publication rights were first owned by Macmillan Publishers, and later by HarperCollins. The two issued both hardcover and paperback editions of the series during their tenure as publishers, while at the same time Scholastic, Inc. produced paperback versions for sale primarily through direct mail order, book clubs, and book fairs. Harper Collins also published several one-volume collected editions containing the full text of the series. As noted below (see Reading Order), the first American publisher, Macmillan, numbered the books in publication sequence, but when Harper Collins won the rights in 1994, at the suggestion of Lewis' stepson they used the series' internal chronological order. Scholastic switched the numbering of its paperback editions in 1994 to mirror that of Harper Collins.[4]

The seven books that make up The Chronicles of Narnia are presented here in order of original publication date:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (1950)[edit]

Main article: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, completed by the end of March 1949[17] and published by Geoffrey Bles in the United Kingdom on 16 October 1950, tells the story of four ordinary children: PeterSusanEdmund, and Lucy Pevensie, who have been evacuated to the English countryside from London in 1940 following the outbreak of World War II. They discover a wardrobe in Professor Digory Kirke's house that leads to the magical land of Narnia. The Pevensie children help Aslan, a talking lion, save Narnia from the evil White Witch, who has reigned over the land of Narnia for a century of perpetual winter with no Christmas. The children become kings and queens of this new-found land and establish the Golden Age of Narnia, leaving a legacy to be rediscovered in later books.

Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia (1951)[edit]

Main article: Prince Caspian

Completed after Christmas 1949[18] and published on 15 October 1951, Prince Caspian: The Return to Narnia tells the story of the Pevensie children's second trip to Narnia. They are drawn back by the power of Susan's horn, blown by Prince Caspian to summon help in his hour of need. Narnia, as they knew it, is no more, as more than 1,000 years have passed and their castle is in ruins, while all Narnians have retreated so far within themselves that only Aslan's magic can wake them. Caspian has fled into the woods to escape his uncle, Miraz, who has usurped the throne. The children set out once again to save Narnia.

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)[edit]

Main article: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Written between January and February 1950[19] and published on 15 September 1952, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader sees Edmund and Lucy Pevensie, along with their priggish cousin, Eustace Scrubb, return to Narnia. Once there, they join Caspian's voyage on the ship Dawn Treader to find the seven lords who were banished when Miraz took over the throne. This perilous journey brings them face to face with many wonders and dangers as they sail toward Aslan's country at the edge of the world.

The Silver Chair (1953)[edit]

Main article: The Silver Chair

Completed at the beginning of March 1951[19] and published 7 September 1953, The Silver Chair is the first Narnia book without any of the Pevensie children. Instead, Aslan calls Eustace back to Narnia together with his classmate Jill Pole. There they are given four signs to aid them in the search for Prince Rilian, Caspian's son, who disappeared after setting out ten years earlier to avenge his mother's death. Fifty years have passed in Narnia and Caspian, who was barely an adult in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is now an old man, while Eustace is still a child.

Eustace and Jill, with the help of Puddleglum the Marsh-wiggle, face danger and betrayal on their quest to find Rilian.

The Horse and His Boy (1954)[edit]

Main article: The Horse and His Boy

Begun in March and completed at the end of July 1950,[19] The Horse and His Boy was published on 6 September 1954. The story takes place during the reign of the Pevensies in Narnia, an era which begins and ends in the last chapter of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A talking horse called Bree and a young boy named Shasta, both of whom are in bondage in the country of Calormen, are the protagonists. By "chance", they meet and plan their return to Narnia and freedom. Along the way they meet Aravis and her talking horse Hwin who are also fleeing to Narnia.

The Magician's Nephew (1955)[edit]

Main article: The Magician's Nephew

Completed in February 1954[20] and published by Bodley Head in London on 2 May 1955, the prequel The Magician's Nephew brings the reader back to the origins of Narnia where we learn how Aslan created the world and how evil first entered it. Digory Kirke and his friend Polly Plummer stumble into different worlds by experimenting with magic rings made by Digory's uncle. They encounter Jadis (The White Witch) in the dying world of Charn, and witness the creation of Narnia. Many long-standing questions about the world are answered as a result. The story is set in 1900, when Digory was a 12-year-old boy. He is a middle-aged professor and host to the Pevensie children by the time of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe 40 years later.

The Last Battle (1956)[edit]

Main article: The Last Battle

Completed in March 1953[21] and published 4 September 1956, The Last Battle chronicles the end of the world of Narnia. Jill and Eustace return to save Narnia from Shift, an ape, who tricks Puzzle, a donkey, into impersonating the lion Aslan, precipitating a showdown between the Calormenes and King Tirian. This later on leads to the end of Narnia, revealing a new but true Narnia that Aslan brings them to.

The Chronicles of Narnia series was written by C. S. Lewis in the 1950s, when he was a high-powered Oxford professor and perhaps the 20th Century’s most famous convert to Christianity. An atheist from boyhood, he converted at age 33 to Christianity and devoted much of the rest of his life to writing about faith.

C. S. Lewis was the great Christian apologist of the 20th Century. His radio programs reached millions and galvanized a new revival in the 1940s in the United Kingdom during World War II. His books including The Chronicles of Narnia have been read by 100 million people, many of whom have seen a deeper truth in them.

It is in one of Lewis’ last letters (March 5, 1961) to an older child, Anne, that Lewis most fully explains his intentions for The Chronicles of Narnia. Anne seems to have written Lewis about a scene from Chapter XVI, ‘The Healing of Harms,’ in The Silver Chair. Aslan, Eustace, and Jill are in Aslan’s Country and they have just witnessed the restoration of the dead King Caspian to full life and youthful vigor. Jill cannot understand what she has just seen, so Aslan explains that Caspian had died and so had he.

As C. S. Lewis wrote:

“What Aslan meant when he said he had died is, in one sense plain enough. Read the earlier book in this series called The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, and you will find the full story of how he was killed by the White Witch and came to life again. When you have read that, I think you will probably see that there is a deeper meaning behind it. The whole Narnian story is about Christ. That is to say, I asked myself ‘Supposing that there really was a world like Narnia and supposing it had (like our world) gone wrong and supposing Christ wanted to go into that world and save it (as He did ours), what might have happened?’ The stories are my answers. Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called ‘The Lion of Judah’ in the Bible; (c) I’d been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this.

The Magician’s Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Prince Caspian restoration of the true religion after corruption.
The Horse and His Boy the calling and conversion of a heathen.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep).
The Silver Chair the continuing war with the powers of darkness.
The Last Battle the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape), the end of the world and the Last Judgment.”**

“Not Just a Good Yarn. . .”

Needless to say, on the other side of the church-state-secular-world-divide, some people do not want the movie identified with a Christian message. They are trying to reach a broad audience and are trying to pretend that the whole story is just a good yarn. Frankly, we are happy that these people have made the movie, but we have also noticed that they have taken a hard stance against the real story of Aslan. It’s up to the People of God; up to the believers, to help people go deeper or as C.S. Lewis would say through his character, Reepicheep, ‘Go further in and go further up.’ We are happy that the people are producing the movie, but we don’t want what the real message behind the story to be lost. After all, C.S. Lewis once said, ‘Watered down Christianity is nothing at all.’ We need to use this opportunity, whatever the secular world says, to present the truth of Jesus Christ.

As a complement to the movie series, I have written Narnia Beckons, an in-depth glimpse of the life and ideas of the man behind the beloved children’s book series. The book is full of profound, enlightening, inspiring, and discerning information and stories about the book from which the movie has been drawn. Also included in Narnia Beckons is information about previous television adaptations of Lewis’s masterpiece as well as interviews with some of the key players producing the movie and leading Lewis scholars. There are also rare photographs of his English childhood haunts and profiles of family and friends.

**[The source for this letter is Narnia Beckons and “Bluspels and Flalansferes: A Semantic Nightmare,” in Selected Literary Essays, Walter Hooper, ed. (London: Cambridge University Press, 1969), 426.]

(The Chronicles of Narnia, Narnia and all book titles, characters and locales original thereto are trademarks of C.S. Lewis Pte Ltd., and the commentaries herein represent a fair use of that material.)

Christian parallels[edit]

Specific Christian parallels may be found in the entries for individual books and characters.

C.S. Lewis was an adult convert to Christianity and had previously authored some works on Christian apologetics and fiction with Christian themes. However, he did not originally set out to incorporate Christian theological concepts into his Narnia stories; it is something that occurred as he wrote them. As he wrote in Of Other Worlds:

Some people seem to think that I began by asking myself how I could say something about Christianity to children; then fixed on the fairy tale as an instrument, then collected information about child psychology and decided what age group I’d write for; then drew up a list of basic Christian truths and hammered out 'allegories' to embody them. This is all pure moonshine. I couldn’t write in that way. It all began with images; a faun carrying an umbrella, a queen on a sledge, a magnificent lion. At first there wasn't anything Christian about them; that element pushed itself in of its own accord.

Lewis, an expert on the subject of allegory[1] and the author of The Allegory of Love, maintained that the books were not allegory, and preferred to call the Christian aspects of them "suppositional". This indicates Lewis' view of Narnia as a fictional parallel universe. As Lewis wrote in a letter to a Mrs Hook in December 1958:

If Aslan represented the immaterial Deity in the same way in which Giant Despair [a character in The Pilgrim's Progress] represents despair, he would be an allegorical figure. In reality, however, he is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, 'What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia, and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?' This is not allegory at all.[2]

Although Lewis did not consider them allegorical, and did not set out to incorporate Christian themes in Wardrobe, he was not hesitant to point them out after the fact. In one of his last letters, written in March 1961, Lewis writes:

Since Narnia is a world of Talking Beasts, I thought He [Christ] would become a Talking Beast there, as He became a man here. I pictured Him becoming a lion there because (a) the lion is supposed to be the king of beasts; (b) Christ is called "The Lion of Judah" in the Bible; (c) I'd been having strange dreams about lions when I began writing the work. The whole series works out like this.
The Magician's Nephew tells the Creation and how evil entered Narnia.
The Lion etc the Crucifixion and Resurrection.
Prince Caspian restoration of the true religion after corruption.
The Horse and His Boy the calling and conversion of a heathen.
The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader" the spiritual life (especially in Reepicheep).
The Silver Chair the continuing war with the powers of darkness.
The Last Battle the coming of the Antichrist (the Ape), the end of the world and the Last Judgement.[3]

With the release of the 2005 film there was renewed interest in the Christian parallels found in the books. Some find them distasteful, while noting that they are easy to miss if one is not familiar with Christianity.[4] Alan Jacobs, author of The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C. S. Lewis, implies that through these Christian aspects, Lewis becomes "a pawn in America's culture wars".[5] Some Christians see the Chronicles as excellent tools for Christian evangelism.[6] The subject of Christianity in the novels has become the focal point of many books.

Rev. Abraham Tucker pointed out that "While there are in the Narnia tales many clear parallels with Biblical events, they are far from precise, one-on-one parallels. (...) Aslan sacrifices himself in order to redeem Edmund, the Traitor, who is completely reformed and forgiven. That is as if the New Testament were to tell us that Jesus Christ redeemed Judas Iscariot and that Judas later became one of the Apostles. (...) There had been times in Christian history when Lewis might have been branded a heretic for far smaller creative innovations in theology."[7]

Alan Jacobs, professor of English at Wheaton College, describes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as "a twofold story: the rightful king of Narnia returns to re-establish his kingdom and bring peace; and that same king sacrifices himself to save a traitor . . . kingdom and salvation are what the story is all about." The similarity between the death and resurrection of Aslan and the death and resurrection of Jesus in the Bible has been noted; one author has noted that like Jesus, Aslan was ridiculed before his death, mourned, and then discovered to be absent from the place where his body had been laid.[8][9][10] Other authors have likened the character of Edmund to the Judas of the four Gospels.[11][12][13] Stanley Mattson, president of the Redlands, Calif.-based C.S. Lewis Foundation, states that the “Deeper Magic” referred to in the book “is all about redemption, it's all about reconciliation, it's all about healing, and it's all about . . . death being swallowed up in victory."[14]

Paganism[edit]

Lewis has also received criticism from some Christians and Christian organizations who feel that The Chronicles of Narnia promotes "soft-sell paganism and occultism", because of the recurring pagan themes and the supposedly heretical depictions of Christ as ananthropomorphic lion. The Greek god Dionysus and the Maenads are depicted in a positive light (with the caveat that meeting them without Aslan around would not be safe), although they are generally considered distinctly pagan motifs. Even an animistic "River god" is portrayed in a positive light.[15][16] According to Josh Hurst of Christianity Today, "not only was Lewis hesitant to call his books Christian allegory, but the stories borrow just as much from pagan mythology as they do the Bible".[17]

Lewis himself believed that pagan mythology could act as a preparation for Christianity, both in history and in the imaginative life of an individual, and even suggested that modern man was in such a lamentable state that perhaps it was necessary "first to make people good pagans, and after that to make them Christians".[18] He also argued that imaginative enjoyment of (as opposed to belief in) classical mythology has been a feature of Christian culture through much of its history, and that European literature has always had three themes: the natural, the supernatural believed to be true (practiced religion), and the supernatural believed to be imaginary (mythology). Colin Duriez, author of three books on Lewis, suggests that Lewis believed that to reach a post-Christian culture one needed to employ pre-Christian ideas.[19] Lewis disliked modernism which he regarded as mechanized and sterile and cut off from natural ties to the world. By comparison, he had hardly any reservations about pre-Christian pagan culture. As Christian critics have pointed out,[20] Lewis disdained the non-religious agnostic character of modernity, but not the polytheistic character of pagan religion.[21]

Religious and secular reception

The initial critical reception was generally positive, and the series quickly became popular with children.[22] In the time since then, it has become clear that reaction to the stories, both positive and negative, cuts across religious viewpoints. Although some saw in the books potential proselytising material, others insisted that non-believing audiences could enjoy the books on their own merits.[23]

The Narnia books have a large Christian following, and are widely used to promote Christian ideas. Narnia 'tie-in' material is marketed directly to Christian, even to Sunday school, audiences.[24] As noted above, however, a number of Christians have criticized the series for including pagan imagery, or even for misrepresenting the Christian story.[25] Christian authors who have criticised the books include fantasy author J.K. Rowling on ethical grounds and literary critic John Goldthwaite in The Natural History of Make-Believefor elitism and snobbery in the books.[citation needed]

J. R. R. Tolkien was a close friend of Lewis, a fellow author and was instrumental in Lewis' own conversion to Christianity.[26] As members of the Inklings literary group the two often read and critiqued drafts of their work. Nonetheless, Tolkien was not enthusiastic about the Narnia stories, in part due to the eclectic elements of the mythology and their haphazard incorporation, in part because he disapproved of stories involving travel between real and imaginary worlds.[27] Though a Catholic himself, Tolkien felt that fantasy should incorporate Christian values without resorting to the obvious allegory Lewis employed.[28]

Reaction from non-Christians has been mixed as well. Phillip Pullman, a supporter of secularism and humanism, has serious objections to the Narnia series[citation needed]. On the other hand, the books have appeared in neo-pagan reading lists[29] (by the Wiccan author Starhawk,[30] among others). Positive reviews of the books by authors who share few of Lewis' religious views can be found in Revisiting Narnia, edited by Shanna Caughey.

The producers of the 2005 film hoped to tap into the large religious audience revealed by the success of Mel Gibson's film The Passion of the Christ, and at the same time hoped to produce an adventure film that would appeal to secular audiences; but they (and the reviewers as well) worried about aspects of the story that could variously alienate both groups.[31]

Two full-length books examining Narnia from a non-religious point of view take diametrically opposite views of its literary merits. David Holbrook has written many psychoanalytic treatments of famous novelists, including Dickens, Lawrence, Lewis Carroll, and Ian Fleming. His 1991 book The Skeleton in the Wardrobe treats Narnia psychoanalytically, speculating that Lewis never recovered from the death of his mother and was frightened of adult female sexuality. He characterises the books as Lewis' failed attempt to work out many of his inner conflicts. Holbrook does give higher praise to The Magician's Nephew and Till We Have Faces (Lewis' reworking of the myth of Cupid and Psyche), as reflecting greater personal and moral maturity. Holbrook also plainly states his non-belief in Christianity.

In contrast to Holbrook, Laura Miller's The Magician's Book: A Skeptic's Guide to Narnia (2008) finds in the Narnia books a deep spiritual and moral meaning from a non-religious perspective. Blending autobiography and literary criticism, Miller (a co-founder of Salon.com) discusses how she resisted her Catholic upbringing as a child; she loved the Narnia books but felt betrayed when she discovered their Christian subtext. As an adult she found deep delight in the books, and decided that these works transcend their Christian elements. Ironically, a section in His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, one of Narnia's severest critics, about how children acquire grace from innocence but adults from experience, had a profound influence on Miller's later appreciation of the Narnia books.[32]

THE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH AND THE WARDDROBE

 

"The whole Narnian story is about Christ." (C. S. Lewis, 1961)

"The things he loves Aslan for doing or saying are simply the things Jesus really did and said." (C. S. Lewis)


The allegory of the intriguing and enchanting world of Narnia is rich in symbolism.  Symbolism is a great tool to imbed meaning into characters, events and stories. Author, C. S. Lewis did a masterful job of defining the Christian faith through the Chronicles of Narnia.

Aslan, meaning “lion” in the Turkish language, is the one character who appears in all seven of the Chronicles of Narnia. He is majestic; the great lion: the son of the Emperor over the sea. He is the constant guardian, protector and helper of Narnia. He watches over the children from this world who are called to Narnia's aid. Indeed it was Aslan who created Narnia by singing it into life.

The character of Aslan of Narnia is sometimes fierce yet always good. The question arises as to whether Aslan is tame. The answer is “no”. He is not tame … but he is good.

Looking deeper into the character of Aslan we find he is symbolic of Jesus in the Christian faith. Though loving and forgiving, Jesus is also anything but tame. He demands love and obedience yet he is so good. He is strength to those who believe in him.

Aslan is often found to be the redeemer in the stories that unravel in the world of Narnia. He sends a rescue party for Edmund, a rather nasty child when we first meet him. Aslan rescues Edmund just before the White Witch attempts to kill him.

The faun also has his life redeemed by Aslan. When he saves Lucy from the White Witch he is turned into a stone. Aslan revives him.

Giant Rumblebuffin was also turned to stone by the White Witch and revived by Aslan.

The character Eustace is dragged into Narnia and accompanies King Caspian to the end of the world. His meeting with Aslan has a lasting effect on him and he returns from Narnia a changed person.

The symbolism is not lost on those who know and follow Jesus. Jesus is our redeemer. He is the one who loves us even when we are truly “nasty children” as Edmund was.

Even when our associations with the hard and evil ways of our world leave our hearts hard as stone, Jesus is the one who can rescue us. He is the one who can revive our hurting and darkened hearts by his grace and his love.

Though the Chronicles of Narnia are mythical they mirror the true essence of Christianity. The mythical character of Aslan mirrors the majestic character of Jesus Christ, the redeemer of hard hearts. He is the one who leaves a lasting effect on those who meet him. He is the one who can truly change us as individuals into more than we ever hoped or dreamed we could be.

  • Are you ready to join the adventure of being a follower of the “not tame, but good” Jesus?
  • Are you ready to have your heart softened from the hurts you have experienced and from the guilt of the things you have regretted doing?
  • Are you ready to encounter the majestic Jesus who died on the cross for you?

Today you can move from the intrigue of the symbolic myth of Narnia to the reality of knowing the one true Jesus. He came to redeem the broken hearts and to set the wanderer’s feet on a sure path.

You can know him today. He waits to be invited into your life. He waits to forgive you for the ways you have mismanaged life. He longs to change a heart of stone to a heart of freedom.

Simply tell him … “Lord Jesus, I invite you into my life today. Forgive me for the times I have pushed past what I knew was right. Please change my heart today. Walk beside me every step of my journey. Thank you that I can find a new way to live with you as my guide.”

What are the Christian themes inPrince Caspian?"

Answer:
In this, the second of the seven-volume “Chronicles of Narnia” series by C. S. Lewis—although it is the fourth book in the chronological series—Peter, Lucy, Edmund, and Susan are summoned once again to their beloved Narnia as young Prince Caspian seeks to regain his rightful place upon the throne. As the story unfolds, we learn the Caspian's true identity has been kept a closely guarded secret by an evil uncle, but Caspian's teacher, Dr. Cornelius, breaks his vow of silence by revealing Caspian's true heritage and the wonderful secrets of Narnia's golden past. A civil war erupts when Prince Caspian challenges the evildoers who stole his crown.

Prince Caspianis a classic good-vs.-evil story set at a time when the true Narnians who believe in and follow Aslan—representative of those who follow Christ—are driven underground, both physically and symbolically. The small band of believers is forced to hide out in Aslan’s How, “a huge mound which Narnians raised in very ancient times over a magical place, where there stood, and perhaps still stands, a very magical Stone.” That Stone turns out to be the Stone Table on which Aslan was sacrificed to redeem the traitorous Edmund inThe Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the most obvious reference to Christ’s redeeming sacrifice on the cross. Here is a picture of believers through the centuries who were reviled and persecuted for their faith, often having to hide out from the forces of evil that sought to destroy them. The description of Aslan’s How is reminiscent of the catacombs of Rome, in which believers in the ancient world lived and died during the Roman persecutions. Clearly, one of the themes ofPrince Caspianis the continuing need for Christians to count the cost of following Christ, even to the death, if necessary.

Another theme is the stark difference between believers and unbelievers, as symbolized by the Old Narnians—those who remained true to Aslan—and the Telmarines and some of the dwarves, especially Nikabrik. The Old Narnians are characterized as those who “believe in fairy tales.” King Miraz, who has usurped young Caspian’s throne, berates him: “That’s all nonsense, for babies…Only fit for babies, do you hear? You’re getting too old for that sort of stuff.” Even Trumpkin, the dwarf who is eventually convinced of the reality of Aslan, says early on, “But who believes in Aslan nowadays?” Trumpkin changes his mind, or rather has it changed for him, when he meets the great Aslan face to face. After that momentous meeting, Trumpkin becomes a true son of Narnia and will continue to be so through the next book,The Silver Chair. Lewis is drawing a parallel to the Christian life in that our faith will always be ridiculed and sneered at by those who will see it as foolishness. Paul reminds us that “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing but to us who are being saved it is the power of God” (1 Corinthians 1:18).

Perhaps the most obvious theme is represented by Lucy’s journey through the story. Her struggle portrays the struggle of all Christians who must follow the path of faith and obedience, even in the face of opposition. Lucy has to go against her friends and family in order to follow Aslan (Jesus), who appears to her one night and beckons her to follow Him on the path to Aslan’s How, a path the others cannot, or will not, see. When they refuse to follow her, her heart is broken, but she abandons Aslan in order to stay with the group. When Aslan comes to her a second time, He is compassionate and loving towards her, but He makes it clear to her through her own conscience that she should have followed Him, no matter what the cost. She realizes her mistake and gains from Him the strength she needs: “Lucy buried her head in his mane to hide from his face. But there must have been magic in his mane. She could feel lion-strength going into her. Quite suddenly she sat up. ‘I’m sorry, Aslan,’ she said. ‘I’m ready now.’”

Lucy now had the courage to follow Aslan, even if she will be the only one who does. “‘I do hope,’ said Lucy in a tremulous voice, ‘that you will all come with me. Because—because I’ll have to go with him whether anyone else does or not.’” This is a poignant lesson for Christians of all ages, but especially for children. Lucy’s heroism as she determines to follow Aslan through all the dire circumstances in the first three books teaches children three invaluable lessons: counting the cost of following Christ (Luke 14:26-33); the dangers and trials inherent in the Christian life (James 1:12;Revelation 2:10); and the faithfulness of our Savior, who will lead us home and from Whom nothing can separate us (2 Thessalonians 3:3;Hebrews 10:23;Romans 8:38-39).

Another theme inPrince Caspianis the universality of questioning God’s timing and purposes. Several times the main characters wonder why Aslan doesn’t come and intervene in their struggles, why they can’t see Him, and why He has been absent from Narnia for so long. But their faith, and ours, is built up by just such circumstances until we learn, as the psalmist tells us, “As for God, His way is perfect” (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does and whatever timing He chooses, is also perfect. In the end, it is the High King Peter who proclaims, “We don’t know when He will act. In His time, no doubt, not ours. In the meantime He would like us to do what we can on our own.” As Christians, what we “do” is to live by faith in the Son of God, who loved us and gave Himself for us (Galatians 2:20).

 

We live in a story-shaped world. As children, we are introduced to realms of enchantment in fairy tales. Later, perhaps in school or at camp, we share tall tales, ghost stories, and wild adventures set in strange lands. As adults we look to a variety of story forms to entertain, instruct, and sometimes even to transform us.

And as spiritual people, we want something more from our stories. Christian novelist Reynolds Price put it well: "We crave nothing less than perfect story; and while we chatter or listen all our lives in a din of craving — jokes, anecdotes, novels, dreams, films, plays, songs, half the words of our days — we are satisfied only by the one short tale we feel to be true: history is the will of a just god who knows us."

These yearnings help to explain the heightened expectation surrounding the release of this new film version of the classic fantasy tale by C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Written in 1950, it is the first of the seven-volume series The Chronicles of Narnia, which collectively have sold more than 85 million books in 29 languages. Lewis, a lecturer in medieval and Renaissance literature at Oxford and Cambridge, became well known as a Christian apologist for his radio shows and books Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and The Screwtape Letters. He wrote his fantasy series, and also some science fiction, to convey his delight in the joy and mystery of the human adventure.

The Narnia stories are set in the context of an imaginary world where issues of right and wrong, trust and betrayal, life and death come vividly into focus. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Lewis has stated, began as "a picture in my mind — of a faun carrying an umbrella and parcels in a snowy wood." Now thanks to the creative energies of director Andrew Adamson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Ann Peacock, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely, this fantasy tale has been brought to the screen with live action sequences, stunning visual effects, and the latest advances in CGI animation.

During the German bombing of London during World War II, Mrs. Pevensie (Judy McIntosh) sends her four children by train to the countryside. Peter (William Moseley), the oldest, is a responsible teenager; Susan (Anna Popplewell) is the smartest and most practical sibling; Edmund (Skandar Keynes) is a joker who is always getting into trouble; and Lucy (Georgie Henley) is the youngest with the most active imagination. When they arrive at the country house of the Professor (Jim Broadbent), they are warned by his officious housekeeper (Elizabeth Hawthorne) not to shout, not to run, and never to disturb him.

One day while the children are playing hide-and-seek, Lucy ducks into a wardrobe filled with fur coats and steps out the back of it into the magical world of Narnia. Amazed at this turn of events, she wanders through this beautiful winter wonderland. At a lamppost she meets Mr. Tumnus (James McAvoy), a kind-hearted faun who is thrilled to meet a "Daughter of Eve." In his humble cave, he tells his wide-eyed visitor that the White Witch reigns in Narnia and makes it always winter and never Christmas. It has been this way for 100 years and, according to prophecy, will only change when four humans — two Daughters of Eve and two Sons of Adam, come to replace her. Although all inhabitants of the kingdom have been warned that to protect a human being is tantamount to treason, Mr. Tumnus decides to disobey the law and help Lucy return to her own world.

Back in the Professor's house, Lucy is dismayed to discover that practically no time has passed since she's been gone, and, worse, her siblings don't believe her story. But later Edmund also finds the way into Narnia. He falls under the spell of the White Witch (Tilda Swinton), who offers to make him a king if he delivers his brother and sisters to her palace. What temps Edmund the most is the promise that he can eat all the Turkish Delight treats he wants. He will learn later that the Witch keeps all the animals and mythical creatures under her control because she has the power to turn her opponents into stone. Back from his adventure in Narnia, Edmund betrays Lucy by denying that it exists.

Eventually all the children go through the wardrobe into Narnia, and Edmund sneaks off to seek out the White Witch, who sends out a pack of ravenous wolves to kill his brother and sisters. They have met up with Mr. and Mrs. Beaver (voiced by Ray Winstone and Dawn French) who are escorting them to the camp of Aslan (voiced by Liam Neeson), a great and loving lion. Along the way, they meet Father Christmas (James Cosmo) who gives them each a special tool to use on their mission, which Aslan explains to them.

There are quite a number of impressive things about The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. We single out the very fine performance by Georgie Henley as young Lucy who is the heart and soul of the story with her curiosity and tender feelings. Her interactions with her friend Mr. Tumnus and the leader Aslan are especially appealing. Tilda Swinton does a remarkable job in not making the White Witch into a clichéd evil-doer. She is credible and not over-the-top. The voice of Liam Neeson gives a centered and calm aspect to Aslan. And the scenery in Narnia, shot in New Zealand and the Czech Republic, is beautiful.

The film moves along nicely, closely following the book and filling it out some with the addition of two action sequences during the spring thaw in Narnia. But then the whole tone of the story shifts in preparation for the war between Aslan's army and the White Witch's legions. What the book covers in two pages becomes a long battle sequence. The filmmakers fall into the same excesses that we saw in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In fact, some of the bad guys fighting for the White Witch look like extras from those films!

Many people have interpreted The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as a Christian allegory on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Lewis himself advised his fans to approach The Chronicles of Narnia as multileveled stories with many meanings.

One of those meanings is the transformative power of forgiveness. If we look at this story as primarily about the four children, then we see that the key dramatic line is what happens to Edmund — his seduction by the Witch due to his weaknesses, his betrayal of his siblings, his suffering as he discovers the error of his choice, his rescue, his repentance, and his reconciliation with his family. In the book, we see Edmund change and at a key point personally apologize to Peter, Susan, and Lucy. In the movie, we see Edmund talking with Aslan and hear Aslan tell the others that they need not talk about the past anymore. Edmund never asks for forgiveness; Aslan does everything for him — a serious diminishment of the forgiveness theme.

This brings us to the question of who Aslan is in this story. Many of our conservative Christian brothers and sisters are embracing him as the Christ figure who atones for Edmund's treachery with a blood sacrifice and then rises again to defeat the White Witch. But look closely. Would Christ advise Peter to always wipe his sword clean of blood (in the Gospels, Jesus tells Peter to put away his sword)? Would Jesus encourage Susan, soon to be dubbed Susan the "Gentle" at her coronation as a queen of Narnia, to send an arrow through the heart of Ginarrbrik (Kiran Shah), the White Witch's sleigh-driver? When Aslan leaps upon the White Witch and kills her, are you reminded of Christ?

It is time for the Christian community to lay to rest images of war as the only way to battle the principalities and powers, as St. Paul describes those who do evil things in our world. Yes, we all need to resist anything that destroys life, but the essential way to do this according to the Gospels and the life of Jesus is by becoming nonviolent warriors for peace and justice. Let's hope that someday soon a truly imaginative filmmaker will give us a story where good guys and gals do not kill evil-doers but transform them into friends and allies. Now that would be true to the spirit and message of Jesus the Christ.