Saturday, August 22, 2015

Thank You, C.S. Lewis

"Mama, how did Aslan kill the witch?"

"He pounced on her."

"But how did he KILL her?"

"I'm not exactly sure."

"Can you go look it up on the computer?"

Which is why, recently, I was sitting down and Googling Aslan and the White Witch (a.k.a Jadis) from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

The Chronicles of Narnia have been huge in our house this summer. Huge. They've been a godsend, actually: serving as that one thing Ethan decides to latch on to do when he can't play Wii, have water play, wrestle Chloe to the ground (well, not literally), or get into other general mischief.

For the most part, I couldn't be more delighted. I love The Chronicles of Narnia. I love C.S. Lewis. I remember being surveyed once for some kind of corporate work activity and being asked which person, living or dead, I'd most like to meet. He immediately came to mind.

I love C.S. Lewis because he was a thinker, and a believer (and former atheist). And a writer, of course. He asked hard questions. He struggled at times with answers. He wrote about the process of struggling, of grieving (the loss of his wife, never mind the general suffering in this crazy, mixed-mixed up world).

I discovered the seven books in the Chronicles of Narnia when I was about Ethan's age and fell in love. The stories weren't written to be complete Biblical allegories (although some are very obvious) but demonstrate, in creative ways, many Biblical truths, especially about the nature of God. Not to sound sacrilegious, but there have been times in life when I've understood God better through these books than in the pages of the Bible.

As a plus, they're really good stories. At this point I must have read each book 50 times. Ethan's probably read them 50 times this summer.

Which is why my tidy little collection of Narnia books, stored in the wooden box, are now falling apart. Let's call them well-loved. A number of covers as well as backs have come off. I need to get serious with some tape or something at this point.

But he's reading, and understanding. And if he doesn't understand, he'll ask. He wanted to know what a "shrill voice" was, or "speaking sharply." He asked what the word "empress" meant. Sometimes he'll even ask about different plot points and why a character did this vs. that.

Most of all, he loves the battles, and he loves good vs. evil. He thinks it's pretty darned awesome that Jadis used a Deplorable Word to wipe out everyone on her planet. (I try to throw in there at these times that Aslan, the "good" lion, is even more powerful than the witch.) He likes reading about sword fights and bows and arrows and evil being stomped out. Last year in school they had to write about their favorite character in a book. Ethan, who at the time had only had the books read to him, instantly chose Aslan, because "he can do anything."

The other night at dinner he quoted a paragraph almost verbatim from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe -- the pivotal scene where the witch kills Aslan -- while Anna and I sat there, mouths gaping.

Yeah, sometimes he likes these fighting parts a little too much. Online, I found one other person in the Google universe who also wondered exactly how Aslan killed the witch. No one had an answer for him.

"Mama, but HOW did the witch die?" I heard for the umpteenth time.

"I don't know, he pounced on her, like a lion does."


"And he ripped at her throat until all the blood came out of her body." I can't believe I'm doing this, I kept thinking.

"And then her heart stopped beating?"


"But HOW?"


I'm sure some of the higher level themes of the books are flying past Ethan's head right now, as they did mine when I was his age. But I'm thrilled to be able to share something that's been so significant in my life with my own kids.

Even if right now we spend a lot of time discussing blood and Deplorable Words.

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