Fantasy Friday – Thoughts on Lewis

In one email group this week, someone posted a link to an article entitled “Awakening Narnia with Bacchanalian Feasts.” I don’t want to post the link because, quite frankly I’m not interested in driving traffic to that site. If you want to read it, of course you can simply by Googling it.

The gist of the article is captured in this quote: “Many [readers captivated by Lewis’s storytelling] forget that magic, divination and astrology — both real and imagined — clash with God’s Word.”

Unfortunately, this article was not posted on a blog, allowing for comment. I was able to find an email address, however, and this was my reaction:

Hi, [author’s name]

I read your article about Prince Caspian. I applaud your desire to read with discernment. Our culture, including the church, seems to be moving away from analytical thinking.

Unfortunately, I think your knowledge of Greek myths and undue literalism may be coloring your judgment.

Fantasy literature is very different from the realism of literary or other genre fiction. The fantasy world is one of the author’s imagination. Therefore, if Mr. Lewis wants the Creator-Lion’s power to be called magic, it does not mean he is ascribing to a belief in the “magic”—demonic power—of this world. When he brings in Bacchus as a character, there is no reason to assume Lewis was putting a stamp of approval on debauchery and madness. Rather, his implication is the redemption of the world.

In Surprised by Joy, Mr. Lewis’s non-fiction work recounting his coming to faith, he states plainly the tipping point was when he realized that the Christian story is actually the True myth. In his thinking, knowing that Christ did die on the cross and did rise from the dead, redeemed all myth, for he found in those pagan stories the echo of truth, the yearning after that which they did not know.

Of course, I have no way of knowing at this point how the movie will portray Mr. Lewis’s story, but the Narnia books, in my opinion, do a remarkable job shining light on Christ—the Creator-King, the Lion of Judah, the suffering Savior, the all powerful Friend, and so much more.

This, in my view, is the best kind of fantasy. The parts of the made up world are not to be understood literally or even allegorically. Rather, the stories are more reminiscent of parables. Even Jesus used an unjust judge in one of his stories to teach something about God.

Perhaps if you could set aside what you know about Bacchus or magic or witches, and read the story that Mr. Lewis wrote instead, you might see why so many Christians celebrate his fiction and desire to write like him.

No surprise, I haven’t heard back from the author. I suspect my line about the stories coming from his imagination didn’t win any points. She has a link (which I didn’t read) to an article (or articles?) about imagination. It’s associated with the reader’s imagination, so I didn’t think at the time it was relevant, but then, I don’t think I fully grasp the point from which arguments against fantasy come.

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