Friday, July 22, 2011

What I Learned in Narnia, by Doug Wilson

If there were any book that I would encourage you to read about Narnia, this would be the one! What I Learned in Narnia, by Doug Wilson is as full of insights into the Chronicles of Narnia, as well as practical life applications as you could ever hope to discover. (Tall order? You bet. But I think Wilson delivers.)

I had previously purchased the audio version of this same title in which Wilson himself is "lecturing" to a group of school aged children on Narnia. The book, What I Learned in Narnia, is a cleaned up version of the transcript of his lectures. (If you are an audio learner, you might want to consider the lecture series which is available through Canon Press & Amazon both.) I actually began listening to the audio lectures before I started reading this book and made some notes from them which I plan on sharing with you next week. After I listened to the lecture series I read the book which, as I mentioned, is a cleaned up transcript, of sorts.

The book follows the same format as the lecture series. Under this title, Wilson explores the following themes which can be found in the Narnia books:

  1. (Lessons on) Authority
  2. Confession of Sin
  3. Nobility
  4. Spiritual Disciplines
  5. Love of Story
  6. Thorough Grace
  7. Love for Aslan, Love for God
This book is, however, not meant to be touched until you've spent time in Narnia for yourself. Wilson writes in his introduction:

"I would like to introduce this small book by pleading with the reader to put it down immediately if he has not yet read the Narnia stories. This is the kind of book that would be best read after the reader is thoroughly acquainted with Puddleglum, and with Tirian, and with Digory, Lucy, Caspian, Trumpkin, and of course, Aslan. So this is not intended to be an introduction to Narnia at all, but is rather more like a conversation between good friends about some other good friends, talking about what a good time we all had and why. But in order to have that conversation, we have to have the good time first." (Introduction, page 11)
I do think Narnia is rich with symbolism and practical life applications for the Christian. (You'll see some of these ideas and notes when I post my thoughts from Wilson's lectures of the same title.) However, you'd be putting the cart before the horse if you try to figure out all what Lewis was getting at before you read about where he was taking you to. Love the stories first. Engage with them. Then go back, read them again, and learn more. As I've mentioned before, every time I re-enter the world of Narnia I learn something new. This year's Narnia Challenge is no exception. I find myself pulling more out of the stories than ever before - in part because I am sharing them with my kids.

I particularly like What I Learned in Narnia for the following reasons:

1. The applications that he draws from the stories and offers for our lives is very practical. I would have to say that his chapter on the confession of sin has been particularly meaningful this time around. Let's just say that a two year old and a four year old, learning about life and obedience, are given ample opportunity to learn how to confess correctly. As I've been regaling my children with examples from Narnia, I've been learning to confess quickly myself as well as how to keep short(er) accounts. If you think about it, most adults these days do a pretty stinky job at confessing sins and taking personal responsibility for their actions and words. Look around you. You'll find an example quick enough. (Hey! You might even BE the example!) Wilson highlights particular characters and their reactions to certain situations when discussing owning our actions and behaviors and confessing when we're (over)due for it.

2. I like this book because he originally gave it as a series of lectures to school aged children. However, he did not feel the need to dumb down his message for the younger audience. Instead of speaking in one syllable words and interrupting his thoughts with words like "cool, hip and dude" he speaks directly to human beings. (I just finished reading a devotional about Narnia that was written to teens which was so full of slang that I was completely put off.) Wilson could have "talked down" to his reader/listener but instead he assumes that the listener has a brain and knows how to use it. If nothing else, he inspires them to think deeper thoughts and seek understanding. I appreciate that.

Because I'm going to address different chapters in some future posts, I'll conclude here for now. I do heartily and enthusiastically recommend this book though if you are curious to draw more spiritual applications out of the world of Narnia. (Indeed, I should hope that you would want to do so!)

I'm very happy to tell you that Canon Press has offered TWO copies of What I Learned in Narnia to two readers here at Reading to Know. If you would like to be entered into the contest, simply leave a comment below. This contest is open to U.S. Residents only and will remain open through Thursday, July 28th.

THIS CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED! THE WINNERS (as selected by are: #20 - Laura Hartness and #5 - Shonya! Congrats!

Thank you, Canon Press, for shooting a copy of this book my way and for offering some additional copies up to two of my readers.


Annette W. said...

I have added this to my list of ideas for gifts for my husband! I think we'd both enjoy it, but I definitely need another full read-through before finding out What I Learned in Narnia. He is likely ready though.

Tricia said...

This sounds like a good read. We are big Narnia fans here.

Bluerose said...

I definitely want a chance at this one. I'm in Dawn Treader right now.

Melody ________________________________ said...

I love Narnia and I would love to have this book.

Shonya said...

Oh wow, that looks wonderful! I'm thinking I"ll have to get that for our school year this year! :)

Janet said...

This sounds good. Count me in!

Alicia said...

I would love a copy of this book! I have read the Narnia series aloud to my children twice over the years and learn more each time.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like a good read. Please enter me in contest.

ChristyJan said...

Wonderful giveaway and great read! Please enter me

Heather VanTimmeren said...

I have a great respect for Douglas Wilson, and I'd love to read this book!

Melinda said...

I would love to read this book. Your description of it makes the book sound like a good read.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Of course I'd like to read this one!

wmmahaney said...

This sounds like such a wonderful book. I would love to read this, and learn more about the series.

Casa Castillo said...

Great book to use with 2 sons!

Narnia_girl said...

Pick me!! I would love to read that one!

Unknown said...

I love that -- a book as a "conversation between two friends" about something they love. I'm in!

rbooth43 said...

I love the Nardia series of books and the movies, and so does my grandson. What I Learned in Narnia would be a great gift for my grandson.

apple blossom said...

Love to be included in this giveaway thanks

ABreading4fun [at] gmail [dot] com

Jennifer said...

This sounds like a perfect book to read once I finish the series. Only three books left for me! :( I might cry.

Laura Hartness said...

I'd love to win-- please enter this Narnia fan into the contest!


Laura Hartness
CalicoCritic at gmail dot com

Hannah said...

Sounds like a great book! I've read all the books except 'The Last Battle' with my kids and this would be a great resource to share with them.

Laura Hartness said...

Yay! Thanks for holding the contest-- can't wait to read it!


Carol Ann Weaver said...

Entering to win. I do think that many books are a waste of valuable time when there are so many GREAT classics out there. Narnia is great!

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