Tolle Lege: Live Like a Narnian

NarnianReadability: 1

Length: 161 pp

Author: Joe Rigney

At the conclusion of Prince Caspian, Peter and Susan share with their younger siblings that they won’t be returning to Narnia because they “were getting too old.” Lucy exclaims, “Oh Peter. What awful bad luck. Can you bear it?” “Well I think I can,” said Peter. “It’s all rather different from what I thought. You’ll understand when it comes to your last time.” For the Pevensies, being in Narnia made them better for their world, not the worse. Though I’ve enjoyed the film adaptations, I have to agree with Rigney,  the filmmakers largely don’t get Narnia or Lewis. They need to go back and learn. Rigney, like the Pevensies, hasn’t missed the point. He has been well discipled by Narnia. He is the better for it in this world. You would be the better too for breathing deep of Narnian air. For those who have breathed, and love Narnia, Live Like a Narnian is a superb relishing of those breaths.

But it’s not enough to simply feel something in response to the objective reality of the world. You must also feel rightly and proportionately to the way the world is. …

Following Plato, Lewis believed that we ought to initiate the young into these right responses, even before they are able to rationally understand or explain what they are feeling. The goal of such inculcation of right responses is that, when a child raised in this way grows up and encounters Truth, Goodness, and Beauty, he will welcome them with open arms, because he has been prepared for, and indeed, resembles them already.

Which brings us, finally, to the function of the Narnian stories in Lewis’s vision of education. The Narnian stories display through imaginative fiction and fairy tale the way that the world really is. Here is courage and bravery in its shining glory. Here is honesty and truth-telling in its simplicity and profundity. Here is treachery in all its ugliness. Here is the face of Evil. Here also is the face of Good. A child (or adult) who lives in such stories will have developed the patterns of thought and affection that will be well-prepared to embrace the True, the Good, and the Beautiful (that is, to embrace Jesus Christ) when he finally encounters them (Him!). Like John the Baptist, Lewis and his cast of Narnians will have prepared the way.

 

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