Tuesday, December 09, 2008

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

This is only my second time to read through The Chronicles of Narnia. I read through them the first time a few years back and thankfully never wrote a review on them before. (I dislike the way I used to review books and have to exercise great restraint in not deleting half of my blog away sometimes.) I probably barely know what I'm talking about now.

This is a good series to re-read on a regular basis because a.) it's fun and b.) it's packed with life lessons that never grow old. The story isn't stale at all this time around. Instead it is more fresh and hearty a meal as leftovers than as a first go-around. It delights and inspires in new ways. (I do realize Lewis isn't God and these words do not live but because I do believe there are moral/scriptural lessons to be learned from these books, they continue revealing new things to the reader.)

If you have not yet had the opportunity to read these stories I heartily recommend them. There is some argument as to the order in which the series should be read. I am currently reading them in the order that they were written, which starts with The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis said that he completed each book without knowing if he'd ever write another. One young reader suggested to him that The Magician's Nephew should come first in the series and Lewis did not disagree with this but also did not bother officially changing the order of the books in his lifetime. Therefore I'm choosing to read them as he wrote them. (Although I do think there is some sense in starting with The Magician's Nephew. I don't feel like quibbling over it.)

If you have not yet read the stories and are interested in a synopsis, you can check out my post from yesterday.

I remember last time I read this series Lucy was my favorite character. I appreciated her tenacity and willingness to hold on to her childlike imagination and sense of adventure because she knew it was the right thing to do. Despite the fact that her siblings do not believe that she traveled to a new world, met a faun and was away from them for hours while doing so, she holds to the truth she knows in her heart. She is wounded by their disbelief but not crushed. I'd previously been inspired by Lucy's zest and determination to follow truth in spite of the opposition - even within her own family. She believed in the magic and was unapologetic. That, my friends, is a true character of inspiration if there ever was one.

This time around I was more intrigued by Edmund who was the crummiest character. He is the epitome of disbelief and is internally dead. I was bothered to see myself reflecting off the page through Edmund's quest for his own brand of truth. This passage in particular stuck out to me:

(These are Edmund's thoughts as he left the company of the Beavers and his siblings and went on his own private journey to the White Witch's castle.)

As for what the Witch would do with the others, he didn't want her to be particularly nice to them - certainly not to put them on the same level as himself - but he managed to believe, or pretend he believed, that she wouldn't do anything very bad to them, "Because," he said to himself, "all these people who say nasty things about her are her enemies and probably half of it isn't true. She was jolly nice to me, anyway, much nicer than they are. I expect she is the rightful Queen really. Anyway, she'll be better than that awful Aslan!" At least, that was the excuse he made in his own mind for what he was doing. It wasn't a very good excuse, however, for deep down inside him he really knew that the White Witch was bad and cruel.

How like all of us is Edmund in desiring to believe a lie so that our own person can be advanced. Edmund knew deep in his heart that following the path of the White Witch would ultimately be destructive. However, he longed to be lord of the land, so to speak. He relished the idea of his siblings bowing down to him and serving him and so in an effort to gratify these sinful desires, he is willing to sacrifice not only himself but his family for his own "betterment." Yet it is a falsity, the end of which will not bring the fame and fortune he seeks.

Quite frequently I find myself in the same predicament. Death to self does not come easily. Self promotion is so much more pleasant and it's easy to overlook the costs but we can't do that. We must face truth and embrace it, regardless of the personal sacrifice involved. ("For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it . . ." Luke 9:24)

Thankfully Edmund's story does not end on the cold and snowy trail to the Witch's castle. Instead it ends at the feet of Aslan who pardons the boy and goes so far as to protect him from the degrading comments of the others. What is in the past stays there. The moment Edmund turns from the Witch is the moment he is then free to embrace Aslan and Aslan's mission to conquer Narnia. Edmund is able to enter in the joy of fellowship first with Aslan and then with his siblings. Of course, the White Witch meets with defeat (there is no other alternative) and Peter, Susan, Lucy and Edmund take the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Edmund becomes King Edmund the Just which is an amazing picture of Aslan's grace and a picture of how far Edmund had truly come.

This book is very inspiring and uplifting from a spiritual perspective and is my favorite book out of the entire series. (How lucky for me that it comes first in the series, eh!?) It reads as a stand-alone book although I'm happy to say that in this book we find the story just beginning.


Sky said...

Lucy is my favorite child, her belief is simply beautiful, but I dearly love Tumnus! He was the first mystical creature I ever met!

Anonymous said...

Beautiful review!

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