My first entry to Narnia felt like the slow turn from winter to spring.
In my elementary school, one teacher began reading The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to my gifted class. But we never got so far as the children meeting the Beavers. Years later, I finally set my hands on the books themselves. By sixth grade I had read through the whole series, and thoroughly accepted Narnia as a part of my imaginary life.
That’s why I don’t remember my feelings when I first followed Lucy into Narnia.
But I do remember when I first knew the connection between Jesus and Aslan.
During sixth grade, I was sitting at the baseball fields during one of my younger brother’s games or practices. I was reading another book (not a Narnian book), but suddenly the Stone Table scene from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe bounded into my head. In that moment I found myself thinking, “Aslan is like Jesus. He died for others and came back to life.”
As I thought further, Narnia’s colors shone sharper and clearer. I couldn’t wait to share my newfound knowledge with my parents on the way home. My soul thrilled at the discovery that this fantasy story I loved paralleled God’s true Story.
Finding Aslan before the age of fandom
C. S. Lewis famously proclaimed his fairy-stories as supposal of biblical reality in a fantasy world, not an allegory in which everything in Narnia corresponds to Bible stories. Today, people joke about Aslan’s connection to Jesus in everything from memes to YouTube videos.1 But when I found the connection during the sixth grade, I had little Internet access. Social media had not yet appeared, and neither had communities like NarniaWeb.com.2 I was discovering literature’s power without much influence from my school and without digital fandoms.
I find that moment of discovery, by the ball fields, almost as precious as my memory of the night I believed in Jesus as my Savior.
Now as a father, I want to my son to find The Lion’s secret truth
Today, I’m the father of a Hobbit lad. My wife and I also have a Hobbit lass on the way! So I am already thinking how I will introduce both of our children to Narnia.
We’ve already worked to welcome Jesus into our family, long before my son’s first memory. But sharing gospel faith with our children might actually be simpler than sharing our favorite stories with them. After all, stories affect people differently. Many new readers of Narnia don’t hold it as dear as its enthusiastic fans.
I want to share my love for these books with my children, without adding pressure to enjoy them simply because I do. Worse still would be if some well-meaning (or ill-meaning!) adult would break Narnia’s potential enchantment with some off-hand remark about Aslan being Jesus. Instead, I want my son and daughter to find these books “spoiler-free.” That way, they might find their own “Aha!” moments, similar to mine—discovering for themselves that they love Aslan because he is like Jesus.
So far, I have attempted to begin The Lion with my son, but not in earnest. He is fascinated by the big blue Narnia omnibus I keep on the bedroom shelf. Occasionally he will pull it down and pretend to read it. We can’t read it yet. I can get at most two pages into the story before he has flitted to his next fascination.
Still, my heart longs for our first journey into Narnia together. As Lewis said in his dedication of the book, I know soon he will be old enough to read these fairy tales.
- For example, see “(GuyWithGlasses) Chronicles of Narnia in 5 Seconds,” March 31, 2011. ↩
- Editor’s note: Elijah “shastastwin” David and E. Stephen “Dr.Elwin Ransom” first met as NarniaWeb members. Those nicknames were their original forum usernames. ↩