Exploring the Deeper Magic
Even as an adult, Narnia continually enchants me--and encourages all of us to explore the Deeper Yearnings that make us human.
I heard someone refer recently to C.S. Lewis's "Chronicles of Narnia" as "the stories he wrote for children." That's what I once thought too. Of course Lewis did want children to read them. But, as I found out, the Narnia tales also speak profoundly to adult minds and hearts.
G.K. Chesterton once reported that when he outgrew the nursery he left the fairy tale books lying next to his crib, only to discover much later that they contained more wisdom than the many books he had read as an adult. That was my experience too. I loved fairy tales as a child, but as I grew older I left them behind with my childhood toys.
The Narnia tales were not a part of my early years. I had to wait until I was a teenager to discover C.S. Lewis. The first book of his that I read was "The Screwtape Letters." Later I went on to "Mere Christianity" and several other of the books in which he explains and defends Christianity. I had heard about his Narnia stories, but I considered myself too grown-up for such things. It was only when I became a parent, reading children's stories to my son, that I finally got around to Narnia. It did not take me long to realize that this was not like reading "The Pokey Little Puppy." This was a story for the likes of me. I will never forget the sense of wonder I experienced as an adult reader when Lucy, in "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe," steps into the clothes closet, only to realize that she is suddenly standing on snow-covered ground in a magical forest.
These days I seldom find a reason to return to Lewis's more "adult" works. But to the world of lions and witches, accessible only to people who know that secret bedroom entrance, I regularly return to rekindle my spiritual imagination. Lewis's stories about that enchanted realm continue to inform and inspire me in my faith journey.
In the early 20th century the great German sociologist Max Weber reported that science-and particularly the emerging social sciences in which he was a pioneer-had succeeded in "disenchanting" the universe. In the past, people had tried to explain the unknown by talking about demons, angels, ghosts, and gods. Now the human race had reached a point, he argued, where an adequate understanding of reality could be achieved solely within the framework of a universe governed by natural causes and effects. The magical had finally been banished from the world.