When I was a child, I was introduced to a magical land. A land filled with talking animals, centaurs, giants, fauns, and dwarfs. A land with a talking lion and a wicked witch. A land where it was always winter and never Christmas. A land that was both so real, and yet not. A land that was just a shadow, a reflection of another place. A land called Narnia.
Fifty years ago today, the creator of Narnia, C.S. Lewis (or Jack, as he was known by his friends) passed away. His death was over-shadowed that day by the assassination of JFK. Lewis was best known as the creator of Narnia, but also as the author of apologetic works such as Mere Christianity, The Problem of Pain, and Miracles, and other Christian books like The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, and The Four Loves. He was a fellow at Oxford where he taught English and later as a professor at Cambridge. He was veteran of World War I, and a survivor of the English school system. He was an adamant atheist, before he finally and reluctantly reasoned himself into Christianity.
I was first introduced to Lewis through his Narnia books that my Da read to us before bed time. Through his stories, I was able to disappear from reality into a different world. It was in this world that I first fully understood the importance of the Cross and God’s grace, by crying when the great lion Aslan calmly took the place of Edmund, and was killed for Edmund’s sins. That is the beauty of Lewis’ writing. He is able to relate fundamental concepts of the Christian faith that anyone, including a child, could understand.
When I grew older, I became absorbed by Lewis’ other works. Mere Christianity helped to establish my relationship with Christ. The Screwtape Letters remains a fascinating look at demons and Hell, event though Lewis and his friend J.R.R Tolkien considered it to be a lightweight book.
But still it was Narnia that I kept coming back to. Narnia was the place I wanted to go to when I was a child, and some days I still want to go to Narnia. The more I read the series, the more I understand. But it is Narnia that is actually the Shadowlands. A place that is just a shadow of a greater place, Heaven. Lewis created Narnia so that others may understand Christianity and Heaven as a child would.
Lewis has inspired and convicted millions of readers during and after his life. He remains to this day, one of the great modern writers. Here’s to you Jack, may your writings remain.