With the release of the blockbuster film The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, C. S. Lewis is once again drawing the world’s attention. Of course, among Christians, Lewis’s stock has never gone down. For at least half a century, his works have been inspiring the faithful and drawing the skeptical to Christianity. As I have recounted many times, his book Mere Christianity was instrumental in my own conversion.
Even many secularists have recognized the quality of Lewis’s work in such books as the Chronicles of Narnia and The Screwtape Letters. All the same, not many consider him one of our culture’s major writers. But now that Lewis has come back into the limelight, people are taking a fresh look at the quiet-living Oxford professor and writer, trying to figure out just what Christians find so attractive about him.
After all, there are plenty of gifted writers out there who never earn the kind of love, loyalty, and admiration that Lewis receives from so many readers. His devout faith, brilliant use of logic, and humility are rare and precious qualities. But what really makes him so compelling is his ability to blend reason and imagination in his works. As he wrote, “For me, reason is the natural organ of truth, and imagination is the organ of understanding.” He is right. The imagination sees what the mind might take only to be as abstract truth. So Christians and non-Christians alike can appreciate both Lewis’s endlessly creative imagination, and the way he grounded even his works of fantasy in absolute truth.
This is why you do not have to be a Christian to enjoy The Chronicles of Narnia. Generations of children have loved the books whether they fully understood their religious significance or not. The movie, like the books, is for everyone. But the film, again like the book, is far richer and more meaningful if one grasps the Christian symbolism that pervades it.
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