I'm am currently taking a seminar in which we discuss Christian themes in literature since 1980. While we aren't reading any of C.S. Lewis's work, we have discussed it already in class. Discussing his Chronicles of Narnia series for a short while inspired me to write this blog. The Narnia series has been with me ever since elementary school when the second book in the series (The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe) was read to us from a fairytale picture book. I never quite read the stories at a young age but heard a great deal about them. I was not aware of the Christian allegory either until my friend invited me to come with her to see the movie in theaters with her youth group. I ended up buying the whole series at a store called 5 and below and read the first book (The Magician's Nephew) in my sophomore year of high school. For those of you who have stuck with my blog from the beginning, you will know that I just finished the series in 2012. Needless to say, I didn't read the books all at once but over a great stretch of time. Anyway, the more I used social media and networking, the more I saw quotes from C.S. Lewis about his Christian faith. I follow a Narnia fan-base in which fans post personal confessions about the series and many talk about Lewis's Christian background. I have since bought his book Mere Christianity and plan to read it soon. But it was during my seminar that I began to really think about why C.S. Lewis chose a lion to be the symbol of God and the White Witch to be the symbol of the devil. My thoughts took me to exciting and places and I made sure to write everything down for this Wasted Wednesday blog.
I want to start out with the White Witch and how she compares to the devil. For starters, C.S. Lewis seems to be a writer ahead of his time because not only did he choose a woman to take on the devil role, he also chose her specific characteristic as being white. The first book published in the Narnia series was The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe in 1950 which is a little over 30 years since women gained the right to vote and it is a few years before the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Typically society views the devil and hell as a realm of heat and fire and an evil man dressed in red with a pitchfork and horns. But Lewis characterizes this woman as the "White" Witch and makes her cold and living in the realm of winter. This, in my opinion, really emphasizes on the point that evil is not just a man dressed in red with horns and a pitchfork. Evil can come in any form. Patrick Levis says in a speech he made at a graduation ceremony, "Now when we think about evil, often times we think demons and murder and bad stuff. And of course those things of course are evil. But more often than not evil comes in disguises, doesn't it? It's under the wraps. And in our culture today, evil tends to be dressed in cool clothing, a really easy going personality...evil's kind of a cool person to hang out with..." Remember in the beginning when the White Witch gave Edmund hot chocolate and turkish delight?
Which leads me to Aslan the lion who also proves that God can come in any form. For starter's, Aslan is a lion...and that's it. He is a lion! C.S. Lewis chose a lion to take the role of God. C.S. Lewis chose the King of the African safari to play God. Not only does this show that God is a King and the most powerful and feared being ever, but it also shows that like the devil, God can come in many forms as well. Notice how Lewis did not choose a human to play God but an animal. He didn't give the role of God to a person of any race or gender or age. Aslan/God is just a lion. God can be whatever we want Him to be in a sense. We view Him in many different ways. Jeff Bethke says in an interview about reading the scriptures in full for the first time, "I would just say that the Jesus in the scriptures,
cause I read it in more of a wholesome way rather than just one verse,
was so not able to be put in a box...He would say things that were
compassionate, so loving, so crossing gender lines, social economic
lines, racial lines, that people got upset at him for that, but then you
see flip-side like a couple pages later, He's in the temple with a whip
and is just whipping people out of the temple. And so it's like, is He
really soft and loving fairy guy or is He this UFC beast that everyone's
scared of but no one stands up to? Right when I read it I immediately
thought of Narnia...and it's that line where they say 'Is Aslan safe?'
and then Mr. and Mrs. Beaver say, 'Of course He's not safe but He's
good.' He's not safe, but there's something about that dangerous grace
that Jesus preached that was actually what I was attracted to [about the
That is what I love about the Narnia series. Lewis metaphorically shows that God and evil are never what they seem. Neither one can be put into a box like so many believe and that is what shows that C.S. Lewis is a fantastic writer! He takes God/good and evil and humanizes them in a sense and I think that shows a lot for his talent and for the metaphors his books contain.