Thursday, 12 August 2010

That Golden Goodness: Reading The Chronicles of Narnia


Imagine not getting around to reading The Chronicles of Narnia until you're sixty three! That would be me. A summer holiday project which has turned out to be a delight. I find Lewis very English, whimsical and funny. The language and the humour resonates with the BBC radio comedy shows with which I grew up. For example, on Digory's Uncle Andrew and Aunt Letty's house in The Magician's Nephew:
It was one of those houses that get very quiet and dull in the afternoon and always seem to smell of mutton. (Scholastic, 1955), p91
Mutton.

That Golden Goodness: thoughts about Aslan and Jesus

I find the sense of Jesus in Aslan very moving. Also in The Magician's Nephew:
Both the children were looking up into the Lion's face as he spoke these words. And all at once (they never knew exactly how it happened) the face seemed to be a sea of tossing gold in which they were floating, and such a sweetness and power rolled about them and over them and entered them that they felt they had never really been happy or wise or good, or even alive and awake." p194
"That golden goodness" (p194) must be what the presence of Jesus is like. There is another wonderful sense of that in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump on its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some beautiful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realise that it is the beginning of summer. (Scholastic, 1950), p68 
I, too, felt something jump inside as I read of him (and as Aslan roared in the movie). I can understand exactly why Peter wanted to build something to preserve the "golden goodness" of the Transfiguration. We all want to preserve such experiences; to keep Jesus handy in case we need him; but, as Lewis so perceptively writes, also in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
He'll be coming and going,…one day you'll see him and another you won't. He doesn't like being tied down—and of course he has other countries to attend to. It's quite all right. He'll often drop in. Only you mustn't press him. He's wild, you know. Not like a TAME lion. p182
Jesus: Good but not Safe

We domesticate the wildness out of Jesus at our peril, methinks. The Anglican politically correct movement wants him meek and mild; tame. Lewis is right about King Jesus when he writes of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
…he isn't safe, but he's good. p80
Finding the Wardrobe Again: Getting Back to Narnia

Not only that, there's a temptation in ministry to try and find "secret," the "key," the "method" which will cause everything to click into place for things to take off. So we read how others seem to have done it and we are tempted to try and reproduce whatever it is. It's like we're all trying to find that wardrobe portal so we can get back to Narnia. But, again in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:
don't go trying to use the same route twice. Indeed, don't TRY to get there at all. It'll happen when you're not looking for it. p188
Rather like my golf game. When I've hit a good shot, I don't know what I did and I can't repeat it at will. I just have to relax and keep swinging and every now and then it happens.