Thursday, July 12, 2012

C.S. Lewis, Kids' Book Clubs, and Christ


I run a children's homeschooling book club and have recently had the honor or leading the discussion of C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew. Some members of our club are not Christian, so I felt I must keep away from Christian themes and symbolism. Easier said than done.

The more I struggled to see past the Christian themes, the more they stood out for me. You have the struggle of good vs. evil, a man seeking power for power's sake who can't recognize God when he's standing in front of him, a Genesis creation story, temptation in the garden, a forbidden apple, and the promise of a savior. I'll tell you how I skirted these topics in a moment.

I know neo-pagans, new agers, atheists, and even anti-Christian atheists who love the Narnia books. Why would they be drawn to them when the books so obviously deal with Christian themes? Sure, they are good stories. But they're only great stories if you see the deeper meaning that is hidden (or at times, not so well hidden) within them. A child unaware of the Christian elements might enjoy them, but a grownup who's not only non-Christian, but anti-Christian?



I have a theory.  Though society tells us to love self, in our hearts, we want to love God and imitate Him by loving our fellow human beings in a selfless manner. We are made to love and know God. This is why Narnia is popular. It's why we admire self-sacrificing heroes in books and films. It's why we grow disgusted at villains using power to step on others as they strive to rule the world.  It may be why my non-Christian friends and family celebrate Christmas. I'd thought it was a cultural tradition thing; now I'm not so sure.

Still, the loving self thing pops up in a couple of ways in our society. One has a bad reputation--the over consumption of goods, such as expensive cars, jewelry, and other luxury items. The one that is gaining in popularity (at least in my sphere) is the more new-agey idea that you are your own god or goddess. An atheist relative of mine posted on Facebook, "Be your own savior."

Of course we should love and respect ourselves. God created each of us as unique human beings. We have an inherent dignity as his children. But when self-centeredness gets in the way of loving God and others, there's a problem.

But back to the topic. What did we discuss at book club? Good and evil (because everybody understand that dichotomy), the similarities between Uncle Andrew and the witch and what makes them villains, the nature of the Cabby (aka King Frank), the children, the horse, and we also touched on Aslan. We discussed the similarities between the Wood Between the World and the attic tunnel (both being in-between places, not really places where things happen), and the similarities of Charn and how the characters feel about London. Both were described as hard, cold places.

So, I thank the Lord for the works of C.S. Lewis. Their popularity fills me with hope for our society.

Plaque on the Unicorn Inn

BTW IMDb says the film The Magician's Nephew is in production and might not be out until 2014.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like the post I wrote on self-sacrificing mothers in books and film.

2 comments:

  1. You have no doubt heard one of the many reviews and blog posts about the erotic novel Fifty Shades of Grey. Not interested in that type of novel? There are decidedly Catholic alternatives; tender and funny romance novels. “Dandelion Man – the four loves” is one of those novels.

    C. S. Lewis used the four Greek words to categorize love. Each type of love exists separate yet often together with the others in a complex interconnected framework. DANDELION MAN takes the reader on a grand tour of love set in and around the city of Detroit during the late 60’s and early 70’s, a time of the Age of Aquarius and free love. But don’t expect all that, this is the Eros side of love not the Venus.

    Wally arrives at the funeral of the father of his first love where he meets dee once again after forty years greeting her with a kiss on the forehead. Dee introduces her dear friend Wally to her twenty something daughter, Corinne. They get to chatting and the daughter recognizes him from bits and pieces of stories her mom shared with her growing up. “Oh, my god, you’re dandelion man” she exclaims. Anxious to learn what her mother was like as a teenager, the two make plans to meet for dinner where the protagonist reminisces about his first love and provides the daughter insights into a unique facet of her mom.

    DANDELION MAN is a 46,000 word fictional romp that delights in the four loves and the difficult decisions that crop up in relationships. Similar to the C. S. Lewis novels, this story has strong undertones of Catholic values.

    The author, W. M. J. Kreucher is new to the business of writing fiction. In a previous life, He has ghost written for Senators and Congressman mostly on environmental issues and has written pieces of legislation and regulation. Now he is trying his hand at fiction. I know what you’re thinking, writing for politicians is fiction. At least now he is calling it what it is.

    DANDELION MAN is available in paperback or electronic form on Amazon and through the Kindle store.

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/b008d1t9w8

    or at: www.createspace.com/3915260

    The author’s website can be found at:

    https://www.amazon.com/author/waltkreucher

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  2. Thanks. That sounds like an awesome book! :)

    ReplyDelete