Two weeks ago I made the point that art informs the way we think about the world, it forms our imaginations, and it influences our lives in a powerful way. That’s why it’s so important that we make sure only the best works of art, that truly reflects what is true, good, and beautiful. If it’s important for adults, then it’s even more important for children, because the movies, tv, music, and books that we take in as children influences us for the rest of our lives. When I was a kid, my mom struggled to get me to read. Instead of trying to force me, she tried to find something that I would get excited about. What finally caught on were a series of abridged classics that we would read together. She would read a chapter out loud, and then I would. This gave me a love for reading good literature, and I would go on to read the full and complete versions of many of those classic novels. The interesting thing is that reading those classics to me influenced my mom to read more classic novels, too.
One of the classics of children’s literature is C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. Lewis was a convert to Christianity through the influence of other Christian and Catholic writers, like G. K. Chesterton and J. R. R. Tolkien. He didn’t become Catholic, but he did become a very effective defender of Christianity with books like Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters.
The seven books of The Chronicles of Narnia series, of which The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the first, are explicitly Christian books that try to illustrate the truths of the faith through stories. The lion, Aslan, is the Christ figure. He has gone to other lands, but is prophesied to return one day to drive off the enemy, the witch, and restore the Kingdom. The story is told through the eyes of four children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They live in World War II era England during the bombings of London, and are sent out to the country for their safety. They find an old wardrobe through which they enter the mythical land of Narnia.
If you’ve never read these books (and watching the movies doesn’t count) then you definitely should, no matter what age you are. If you’re a parent or grandparent, then you should get these books for your children or grandchildren and read it with them. Don’t just give it to them to read, read it with them. That’s a way of showing that this is something special, something different, and that we should pay extra attention to it. It’s best to form a Christian imagination and outlook on life when we’re children, so that we begin to think about life from a Christian perspective. However, as C. S. Lewis shows us, it’s never too late to start forming our Christian imagination.
Fr. Bryan was pastor of Our Lady of Lourdes from July 3, 2017 to June 2022.