The Magician’s Nephew (Nostalgia, Narnia, and New Worlds)

This Sunday morning before church I woke up slightly earlier than usual with an idea. I was feeling quite nostalgic for some reason- you know that kind of day- a make pancakes and watch Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Boy Meets World kind of morning. And despite my initial desire to trudge along in my current enjoyable fiction endeavor, I was convinced to put the book down and pick up an old favorite: C.S. Lewis’ The Magician’s Nephew. It is a classic book that I knew would not only be a quick read, but a real joy, and a deeply satisfying adventure to cure those spontaneous nostalgic cravings that sneak up on us from time to time.

Most know the tale of Digory Kirke and Polly who, while exploring the row of terraced houses in London,  stumble upon Digory’s magician uncle who has created rings with the power to transport humans into other worlds. Through Uncle Andrew’s deception, he drives the comical, bickering pair to puddle-hopping into different lands, meeting evil queens, and finally stumbling upon the creation of Narnia. Lewis’ voice in this installment of the Chronicles of Narnia seems so much more playful than it’s companions, and had me laughing aloud thinking about how well Lewis understood the mind of a child. This time around I particularly enjoyed the witty arguments between Digory and Polly:

Narnia Falcor Nostalgia

It’s all rot to say a house would be empty all those years unless there was some mystery.” (Digory)

“Daddy thought it must be the drains,” said Polly.

“Pooh! Grown-ups are always thinking of uninteresting explanations,” said Digory.

Or how about this one?

And if you want me to come back, hadn’t you better say you’re sorry?” (Polly)

“Sorry?” exclaimed Digory. “Well now, if that isn’t just like a girl! What have I done?”

“Oh nothing of course,” said Polly sarcastically. “Only nearly screwed my wrist off in that room with all the waxworks, like a cowardly bully. Only struck the bell with the hammer, like a silly idiot. Only turned back in the wood so that she had time to catch hold of you before we jumped into our own pool. That’s all.”

The Magician’s Nephew, though traditionally (since the 1980’s) placed 1st in the chronicles of Narnia Series, was actually published 6th, and after another read it is easy to see why. As you’re unraveling the tale you see the origins of different enigmatic elements within the land of Narnia: where does the lamp post come from in the Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe? How does the wardrobe actually have the ability to bring the Pevensies into Narnia? Why is professor Kirke so willing to believe that the land of Narnia is real?

The riddles presented throughout the books are satisfied in The Magician’s Nephew, and I would argue that it should be read sixth because the reader will experience the excitement of understanding the compelling world of Narnia that so effortlessly draws you in to its adventures.

Lewis (as always) has a power to make you feel the longing of something that I can never quite put my finger on. Maybe it’s adventure, or the simplicity of childhood, or the purity of a Narnia character that I long for, or perhaps the way Lewis communicates theological ideas with such an unmatched emotional force through his creative fiction. Whatever it is, the Magician’s Nephew makes for a great read that will always be on the highest bookshelf I have.

Everybody owns it! Who has read it? ‘The Screwtape Letters’ by C.S. Lewis

The Screwtape Letters is a unique book. I can think of no other work of literature that I have read or have heard of that is even remotely similar. Lewis’ writing assumes the voice of a demon, Screwtape, authoring instructional letters to his nephew, Wormwood, on how to effectively tempt the man he has been assigned to, in order to pull him away from ‘the Enemy’ (God). It is an unmatched work of Lewis’ grasp on human psychology seen through the lens of Christianity.

The plot of the book traces the practicing temptations of Wormwood upon his subject, and then follows the continuing cosmic battles of God and the demonic throughout the events of what is seemingly everyday

Demythologizing the demonichuman life. The ultimate aim of the book, I believe, is for Christians to understand how demons/tempters utilize the mundane occurrences of life to lure us away from God. It is a spectacularly revealing book that helped me to realize that wickedness is not the absolute aim of Satan, but to promote repeated actions and thoughts within us that keep us from approaching God.

I understand that the Screwtape Letters may seem cliche to many, because it sits atop every Christian’s bookshelf as one of the absolute must reads along with the books we know everyone has: ‘Mere Christianity,’ ‘Desiring God,’ ‘Narnia,’ etc. (I would like to note that the presence of these books doesn’t mean for a second that anyone has read them) It is like the Christian book equivalent of a star on your Christmas Tree- it just isn’t right until it’s there. But it really is a book that is more than worth its time to read. The Screwtape Letters will not only help you in more thoroughly thinking through your own faith, but also thinking through ‘the little foxes’ that seem to attack your system of belief. I think what amazes me most about the Screwtape Letters, is that while Lewis is a using a fictitious demon as his mouthpiece, there are wholly reverent, and worshipful ideas that are presented to the reader, despite the devout thoughts coming from a character that completely despises God. The Screwtape Letters will undoubtedly present to you ideas and theologies that help to foster a greater love and passion for the one in the book who is referred to as the ‘Great Enemy.’

I remember vividly when someone very close to me was hesitant about reading ‘The Screwtape Letters’ because the very idea of a demon being assigned to temp an individual was scary. I agree, the idea certainly isn’t one that makes you want to party like its 1999. However, it is a reality that our enemy Satan is seeking to destroy us, and having a better grasp on his battle plan is like knowing the formation and strategy of an attacking army- it’s going to help.

All that being said, in no way is this a scary book to read, nor will it promote thoughts about the demonic in an unhealthy way. Your child is not going to be a practicing warlock that attends Hogwarts after reading the book. At worst you will notice areas in your life that you have forfeited to temptation that you never noticed. At best (which is what occurred to me, and I think every other Tom, Dick, and Harry that has read the book) you will find yourself emotionally stirred, and have a greater love for God who readily thwarts the attacks of the demonic.

Put it on the top shelf, as cliche as it seem. It belongs there. Trust me.

C.S. Lewis ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’

“There was once a boy named Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. He didn’t call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother”, but Harold and Alberta. They [his family] were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and tee-totallers, and wore a special kind of underclothes. In their house there was very little furniture and very few clothes on beds and the windows were always open.”

"Sailing to the Edge of the World"

-CS Lewis ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader’

There are several people that are all too familiar with the Chronicles of Narnia, and hold each installment in the masterpiece as a work dear to their hearts. (This of course excludes the movies. No comment will be made about them) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is certainly no exception and is one of the greatest works of one of the greatest minds.

Lucy, Edmund, and their terrible cousin Eustace, are magically pulled into a painitng and into the seas of Narnia and are pulled aboard a beautiful ship to meet their old friends: Caspian, King of Narnia, and Reepicheep, a fearless warrior mouse. The tale is filled with encounters with evil slave traders, dragons, any mysterious spellbinding islands. Through his captivating prose, and lovable characters, Lewis educates us with profound spiritual truths while still keeping the reader enthralled in a playful, exciting state throughout the entire mystical adventure.

I read the chronicles of Narnia, before I was a Christian, and I enjoyed them thoroughly, but after becoming a follower of Christ, the pages came to life. They were more than just great storytelling. ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ more than any other book has the ability to beautifully blend the power of emotion with the truth of theology. So many Christian books seems stale to me today because they lack the feeling of Lewis’ writing; the ability to communicate more than just a truth in your mind, but to also solidify it within your heart.

This is another must read. Whether you enjoy adventures, Christian reading, or wi; The Voyage of the Dawn Treader will find itself on the top of your bookshelf.

The Weight of Glory

C.S. Lewis’ ‘The Weight of Glory’ is another piece by a brilliant thinker that challenges the reader to examine their own beliefs and practices in light of Lewis’ strikingly clear logic. It is difficult to pen point an overall feel for the book, as it is 9 independent essays compiled into one work. Lewis is mentioned in the same breath as several classical theologians and philosophers, but his true gift lies not in his ability of understanding the divine, but in having a remarkable grasp on what makes us human. The tendencies and compulsions we have as a fallen race are thrown into the concepts of war, pacifis

m, relationships with peers, theology, tensions between the spirit and physical realm, forgiveness, and more in ‘The Weight of Glory.’

If you decide to read this book (as you should) you will find yourself moved to pause after Lewis’ breathtaking prose, and if you’re like me,

stirring your almost sleeping wife to read her a quote or two that resonates in your spirit while simultaneously challenging you.

Lewis’ ‘The Weight of Glory’ is spectacular not necessarily because it introduces new truths, or that his practical applications seem sim

ple, but because Lewis had a gift unlike any other to assign feeling, passion, and purpose to a concept that you have probably always believed in while exercising his power to do so frequently in this masterpiece.

This one should be proudly displayed at the top of your bookshelf along with the other works thatgive you warm feelings merely by looking at them and remembering the volumes they spoke in their limited number of pages.