“There should be a child in everyone of us that is still living and still breathing and still enjoying,” said Sherrie Mills Johnson, an instructor of ancient scripture.
With the acclaim of “The Chronicles of Narnia” series, the works of C.S. Lewis have been given new life and a younger audience. Although a fantasy series, there is also symbolism that Sister Johnson reviewed during the series on Friday evening, Aug. 19, during Campus Education Week at BYU.
She said that many people think that Lewis started out to write a Christian novel. In actuality, he wrote it because of a dream of a fawn carrying an umbrella and parcel in a snowy woods. She noted that Lewis said that the tried to make a story of it when Aslan came “bounding in.”
She noted the recent Narnia films and said that all three of them stick close to the theology and went through the timeline of the books.
The Magician’s Nephew (1955)
The main character, Digory Kirke, along with his friend, Polly Plummer, magically find themselves in the world of Charn, where they come upon a witch named Jadis who has was in a deep sleep before the two children entered. As Digory and Polly use the magic to leave, Jadis catches them and goes to their London home. They end up going back to Charn and take their Uncle Andrew, a cabbie named Frank and a horse called Strawberry. They end up in Narnia just as Aslan is sewing it into existence.
“Aslan is a type of Christ,” explained Sister Johnson. “When the books were published few people recognized that.”
Aslan chooses two of every creature and gives them the gift of talking. They are to take care of the other animals that cannot talk. Strawberry is made a flying horse and re-named Fledge. Frank’s wife is brought to the land to rule over the creatures and protect them from the Jadis, who will become known as the White Witch. To redeem themselves, Digory and Polly must travel to the western world and get apples from a garden and take them to Aslan. Digory finds that the apples are magic and will heal his mother, who is ill. The witch tries to tempt him. He refuses and returns to Aslan with the apple. Aslan tells him to take the apple to his mother. He does and his mother is healed. He takes the seed of the apple and plants a tree. Later, that tree is blown over and professor Digory uses the wood to build a wardrobe.
The Lion the Witch and Wardrobe (1950)
The story came from Lewis’ picture of the fawn in the snow. To avoid the air raids, the Pevensie children go to live with old Professor Digory Kirke. The youngest Pevensie, Lucy, goes into the wardrobe and finds the land of Narnia where it is always “winter but never Christmas.” But there is a prophecy that will break the spell of the White Witch. It is the prophecy that two “sons of Adam and two daughters of Eve will destroy her reign.
“I hope that no one who reads this book has been quite as miserable as Susan or Lucy were that night,” Sister Johnson quoted Lewis. “There comes in the end a sort of quietness… that is how it felt to these two that night.”
Sister Johnson continued with the story and the fact that Aslan came back to life, defeated the White Witch and the children were made rulers in Narnia.
She said an additional note of symbolism is that the White Witch consistently called Aslan not a lion but a cat. Sister Johnson said that sometimes the adversary tries to make the big things seem little.
The Horse and His Boy (1954)
During the reign of the Pevensie children, there is a boy named Shasta and a girl named Aravis who become leaders. Sister Johnson said it is a story of how to “grow and develop so we can be kings and queens.”
Prince Caspian (1951)
Sister Johnson said in this story is Lewis’ favorite character, Reepicheep, the valiant mouse.
The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (1952)
The most recent film released, this story includes Eustace Scrubb, a cousin of the Pevensie children. He is turned into a dragon because of his greed but learns humility through his experiences.
“Aslan appears to make the transformation,” Sister Johnson said. “This is done through the ripping of the dragon’s skin so Eustace can immerge from this. It is a painful process but in this process, Eustace is born again, a new creature.”
Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy they will not return to Narnia but they will learn to know him better under a different name in their world.
The Silver Chair (1953)
Eustace Scrubb and Jill Pole meet Puddleglum a Marshwiggle who helps them in their journey to find Prince Rilian. He is the son of King Caspian and has been captured by the Lady of the Green Kirtle, Queen of the Underworld. She cast a spell on the three that causes them to not believe in Aslan. Puddleglum, through great effort and faith in Aslan breaks the enchantment and destroys the evil queen. The children and Puddleglum and the prince return in time before Caspian dies. Eustace and Jill are taken to a mountain and witness the resurrection of Caspian because of the blood of Aslan.
The Last Battle (1956)
This is the end of Narnia. Two hundred years have passed since Aslan was last seen. A talking ape named Shift has dressed a talking donkey in lion skin and passed him off as Aslan. The dwarfs and others are convinced the donkey is Aslan.
“A great deal of wickedness has evolved because of this treachery,” said Sister Johnson. Many characters are called back to help fight the battle. Except Susan, because “she is no longer a friend of Aslan.”
Through a stable they are led to an open space. Jill, who has returned, tells the others: “In our world too a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”
“If you’ve only got time to read one thing, of course, read your scriptures,” advised Sister Johnson and said if you have time after that then read the Chronicles of Narnia.