Alas, nothing stays the same, neither children nor their make-believe worlds. Now, it’s several centuries later in Narnia. The natives, the dwarves, centaurs, and Minotaurs, and elves are so dispossessed and dispirited that they are not only in hiding, they are losing their very ability to transcend themselves. Bears that could formerly converse now only growl with animalistic rage. Trees that could formerly come to life now are permanently stilled by a lack of stimulus and imagination. And, worst of all, Aslan, the powerful lion who ruled with strength and wisdom, is nowhere to be found. Many have not even heard of him, much less believe in him.
Yes, for those who wish to embrace the Christian symbolism, there is plenty here, and very much intended by the celebrated author, C.S. Lewis. And yet these whimsical stories also stand on their own literary merit. It’s about children finding their identity and adults re-discovering their courage. It’s about believing that change can make a difference and that striving against evil is a battle worth fighting. It’s about accepting those who are different and attempting to reconcile with enemies. It’s about believing that what unites us is more powerful than what divides us. As such, it’s a fairy tale not only for all ages, but for all the ages. Prepare to meet a happy combination of form and substance.
Ronald P. Salfen is pastor of Grace Church, Greenville, Texas.