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Fall Semester (2023-2024)

Stealing Past The Watchful Dragons

In reading Till We Have Faces and The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis this semester, I was reminded of the importance that stories and literature play in the life of the Christian and particularly in the life of the Christian high schooler. C.S. Lewis, raised in a religious family that attended the Church of Ireland, separated from Christianity at the age of 15 when he started to view religion as a chore and a duty. He recounts how he was told as a child that he ought to feel a certain way about God and the sufferings of Christ, but the obligation to feel a certain way often froze his feelings. The whole subject of church and religion for young  Lewis was associated with “lowered voices; almost as if it were something medical” (Lewis, 58).

In his adult life as a Christian  C.S. Lewis affirmed the fundamental importance of “the ancient and orthodox doctrines” of the church, but he also believed that while these doctrines serve as an absolutely necessary and inestimably important map, they are not the destination or goal of the Christian life” (Jacobs, 293). The goal of the Christian life is not the ability to recite the Apostle’s Creed from memory but the possession of a heartfelt love for the truths professed in the creed, a love that flows from a real and warm affection for Christ himself who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified dead and buried, descended into hell, rose again on the third day, and ascended to the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

To this end and toward this goal, Lewis wrote stories. In his essay, “Sometimes Fairy Stories May Say Best What’s to Be Said,” Lewis writes, “I thought I saw how stories of this kind could steal past a certain inhibition which had paralyzed much of my own religion in childhood… supposing that by casting all these things (the ancient and orthodox doctrines of the church) into an imaginary world, stripping them of their stained-glass and Sunday school associations, one could make them for the first time appear in their real potency. Could one not thus steal past those watchful dragons? I thought one could” (Lewis, 58).

In my own life, the stories of C.S. Lewis, more than any other stories, have served to help me steal past the  watchful dragons of coldness, doubt, and fear. I know and trust and recite every Sunday  morning that I believe in the “forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting,” but I don’t always feel what I ought to feel about these truths. So I praise God for C.S. Lewis and his books where these truths appear in all their wonderful beauty and potency. I have never felt more prepared to die and more ready for Heaven than after reading Till We Have Faces and The Last Battle.

So as we close out one semester and prepare to begin another, may we continue to go further up and further in until we come home at last, to our real country, the land we have been looking for our whole life (The Last Battle, ch.15).

Knowledge and Wisdom in Submission to God,

Chris M. Blackwell

- Jacobs, Alan. The Narnian: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis. HarperCollins.

- Lewis, C. S.. Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories. HarperCollins.

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