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« Donald Hall, Poet Laureate | Main | R.I.P. Red »

June 14, 2006

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fragileindustries

The Chronicles of Narnia are my absolute favorite books, hands down. (which reminds me, I need to add them to the sidebar of favorite books on my blog.) C.S. Lewis was a brilliant, personally eccentric man who is the only "Christian" writer I can stomach. He came to religion after devout atheism through a rigorous intellectual process that concluded with the realization that the intellect cannot meet all human needs.

The Narnia stories were first read to me by my grandmother, who adored Lewis. She softpedaled any religious allegory, but mentioned casually that Aslan the lion could be seen as a kind of god. The books then were the first non-picture books I read on my own, the pump having been primed, so to speak.

I know the debate continues about their relationship to Christianity, even though Lewis denied it. The fact remains that Aslan, and his role in the stories, is the most accessible vision I have of a Higher Power. There is a childlike immediacy to the spirituality in the stories that completely avoids moralizing or the orthodox claptrap of religion.

Regardless, they are peerless adventure stories enjoyable at any age, with a sly wit.

Lewis's adult works include an adult sci-fi novel, Perelandra, which isn't as good as the Narnia tales, but shows a keen mind at work. His straightforward religious writing is equally intelligent and without any agenda besides introducing the reader to a spiritual life (of nearly any sort) that can fill a very human need.

My favorite quote from C.S. -- "Jack" to his friends -- condenses his mission. I also apply it to my approach to creativity, which is a spiritual journey as well:

"I am trying to rip open the inconsolable secret in each one of you -- the secret which hurts so much that you take your revenge on it by calling it names like Nostalgia and Romanticism and Adolescence." (from "The Weight of Glory")

We all have an inconsolable secret. Lewis believed that taking a good hard look at that void, that lack, that need, led one inescapably to a lifelong and rewarding process of discovery.

"Shadowlands" is a wonderful, little-known movie about Lewis. Anthony Hopkins does a tour de force job as Lewis.

As for the Narnia movie, I loved it. But nothing can equal the thrill of reading the stories for the first time. I envy anyone starting out.

riannan

Fragile, thanks for the information. If they're your favorite books, I'll have to give them a try. I did see Shadowlands and loved it, thought Hopkins was great and liked Debra Winger as poet Joy Gresham as well.

keewee

Yes, Fragile, thank you for the insight. I am intrigued and will also search out some of Lewis's work.

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