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Monday, December 19, 2005

OK fine! I'll give my take on Lewis, too

Our dear Deaconess, Angie, went to see the LWW with us last Friday. She hadn't read the books, and she said that she didn't "get" what was so great about Lewis. I mean, isn't he just laymen trying to give sermons?

And that's what we all think of him. He's some Christian giant, and that he's one of the greatest Christian Theologians of the modern world. It is really too bad, too. Because that isn't who Lewis was, and it isn't who he tried to be.

Lewis was a great Christian, and a great scholar. And because he was both of those things, he became a greatly loved Christian apologist, and philosopher. He was always a genius.

I think that if Angie had been introduced to him that way, she might have never had such a bad taste in her mouth about him. She might have read Narnia and really loved it. She did love the movie.

John H. has some great posts over at Confessing Evangelical and I think that they're worth a read.

I don't have time at the moment to post all my deep thoughts on the matter. So instead I'm just going to quote myself (isn't that tacky):

Considering that I read the stories as a child first. And that I had no Christians (or literary giants) around to instruct me in the ways of Christian allegory, I take my first impression of the stories as the response that Lewis intended.

I was moved tears that Aslan died. I was slightly afraid of him all together. I was disgusted with Edmund. I loved Lucy (hehe, that wasn't intentional). But I also enjoyed _The Horse and His Boy_ and _Dawn Treader_ more. But since I was raised Catholic I did say, "That reminds me of Jesus." and I pondered it while I read.

As an adult, and a Christian, and a (former) student of Medieval Lit, I think that we are all reading Lewis completely wrong. I think that Lewis loved the literature that he studied so much that he wanted to bring those conventions to a young audience, the way that Tolkien was bringing them to an adult audience.

The fact that both of those authors was were Christian, and that those values permeated their literary frames is secondary.

Narnia is so great because it expects more out of kids, and it doesn't hand it straight to them. It's great because it challenges kids to say, "that reminds me of something," not because it is a direct representation of the Gospels. To place that expectation on Narnia is a disservice to the fine work that they are, because they are very poor example of what we want them to be.

I think that I have a slight advantage (emphasis on slight) in that I've read Lewis as a literary scholar once or twice in research for papers in school. It is helpful, I think, to read his work that is less hyped, like his literary critiques.

Another great way to get a feel for the broader works of Lewis's fiction is to read this novel. Till We Have Faces is an amazing depiction of faith. But, it is an impossible allegory. Read it, and then take what you've learned about Lewis's style and apply it to the Narnia series.

That's your Love and Blunder homework for the Holiday. Then we can all come back and discuss. :)