Narnia Update

Today is the day. T-minus 12 hours and counting. I have my tickets. Do you have yours?

Dr. Bruce Edwards, renowned C.S. Lewis expert, has already weighed in with both his first and second impressions (warning: there is some spoiler material there, so if you are completely unfamilar with the story or want to remain uninfluenced by his impressions, beware). Some of what he has to say may surprise you. A note on Edwards for those interested in such trivia: An evangelical Christian who now attends a local community church near his home, Edwards was raised in the Church of Christ. I have some friends here in Huntsville who knew him during his first two years of undergraduate studies at Florida College.

Dr. Edwards is also quoted in a very balanced piece on The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe which appeared in last week’s USA Today.

And finally allow me one more personal Lewis recollection to mark the occasion of the movie premiere. As I wrote in an earlier post, I had the opportunity to teach a Sunday school class on the Lewis classic The Screwtape Letters a few years ago. One morning before class, one of the ladies who had been attending approached me. “Kay” was quiet and shy and looked every bit the part of “the librarian” who would be sent over from central casting. She stood there for a few seconds and finally leaned over to say something. I had to lean over too in order to hear her bashful whisper.

“I thought you might be interested in this,” she said. She then handed me a handwritten letter and envelope.

Lewis had the endearing habit of being hopelessly devoted to his many fans. He took great care to answer as many letters as possible, especially those from children who wrote with questions about the Narnia series. In the late 1950s, my friend Kay had read every one of the Narnia books and had written to Lewis to express her appreciation and to ask him some questions.

I examined the letter more closely and suddenly realized that I was holding a handwritten letter from C.S. Lewis himself, complete with his signature and an envelope bearing an Oxford postmark. “Interested,” indeed, I was, and I suddenly felt a little weak in the knees!

It occured to me that it was time for a little “show and tell.” I managed to get past my shock and breathlessness to ask Kay if she would like to speak to the class about her treasure. To my surprise, Kay responded, “Yes!” I then yielded the floor to my friend who, with uncharacteristic animation, regaled the class with the story of how she had been honored and blessed by her favorite childhood author and his hand-written reply to her letter.

Talk about sacramental moments…

Perhaps more such times lie ahead for those of us who gather the courage to walk through the Wardrobe and into the magical world of Narnia. Like Aslan the lion, I’m hoping that it won’t be a “tame” experience.

  1. Ed

    I’m sipping on the morning coffee and reflecting on the movie last night. I was not disappointed. My mindset was that of a child – it was not necessary, at this point, to ponder the deeper meaning of the tale. That will come on subsequent viewings of the movie. I wanted to experience the story as my 9 year old son would – and as mentioned by Edwards. For the most part, that was my experience. However, when the stone table cracked – it was undeniable – I momentarily pondered the splitting of the temple veil. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my 16 month old son was interested and watched the entire movie. On several occasions he voiced emotion … and it became apparent to me that he was able to discern between good and evil, right from wrong in the movie. I’m not sure that I’m comfortable with this, but will mark it up the film maker’s talents of being able to make the difference known that an infant can tell.

  2. Bruce Edwards

    Hey, Mike, thanks for your blog comments and references to my website.

    My son tracks these things for me (references to Lewis stuff and reviews of my 2 Narnia books) and you popped up on his radar. Hope you will post your impressions of the movie too.

    God is good–and our restorationism can provide a good launching pad for further spiritual adventures! Lewis is the one, with his Mere Christian-ness, that led me out of sectarian battles.

    Hope the Huntsville area folks who remember me are not too put out.

    –Bruce Edwards, Bowling Green, OH

  3. mike


    And I thought Isaiah was asleep, he was so quiet! Turns out he was mesmerized instead–amazing that he was tuning in at some level and taking it in!

    Like you, I think my analysis will come later. For now, I’m satisfied to simply enjoy the buzz!

  4. mike


    Thanks so much for stopping by! I have relied on your writings and your website for years as I have read and taught Lewis and I greatly appreciate the fine work that you’ve done in helping to spread Jack’s influence and legacy.

    The folks here in Huntsville who knew you at Florida College think very highly of you and are themselves believers in “mere” Christianity who are no longer interested in sectarian battles. In fact, I’ve been surprised over the years to discover a great many “closet” Lewisphiles hiding out in Churches of Christ.

    I discovered Lewis when I randomly picked up a copy of Mere Christianity in the Harding University bookstore. It happened during a time of great grief, doubt and skepticism–I was trying desperately to figure out a way to reconcile faith and reason. Reading that book illuminated the path of faith for me and changed my life forever.

    I’ll post my thoughts about the movie soon. Thanks for sharing your thoughts as well. I’m still in the “speechless” stage at this point–it may take me a few days to find the words!

  5. Derek Jenkins

    I have lived with Narnia for over 20 years now. Reading them thru several times, from when I was in my mid-twenties till now. Having also read them to my two oldest daughters some years ago and currently I am reading them to my 8 yr old daughter. I have just returned from seeing the film and I am astonished at how splendidly close it is to all I imaged and hoped it could be. The children are superb, the setting is brilliantly rendered.

    I didn’t have near the response to the film version of LOTR as I did to Narnia. I felt LOTR to be a fair bit to melodramatic (waaaaay to much crying and overacting); none of that in Narnia. It is as spot on as possible.

    Repeatedly thru the movie I seemed to catch sight of the unseen reality of our own existence. It brought home to me in a surprising manner a peak at the end of our own pilgrimage, when the long winter of this age is ended, when all is set right, when we all shall receive a new name:

    And all shall be well and
    All manner of thing shall be well
    When the tongues of flame are in-folded
    Into the crowned knot of fire
    And the fire and the rose are one.

    Four Quartets, T. S. Eliot

  6. mike


    I agree that there was a lot more of that good old British “stiff upper lip” on display in Narnia. When you think about it, it makes sense: these were kids who lived in the middle of London during World War II and were used to Luftwaffe raids every day (unlike the Shirelings who had led a peaceful and safe existence).

    Although there was some hesitation and doubt when confronted with their duty, the children eventually rose to meet the challenge with very little of the pathos in LOTR.

    Yes, my expectations were exceeded. I’m making plans to go back for a second dose soon.

Comments are closed.