Theme: Separation and RestorationInsights:
The opening scenes of the new Narnia movie are among the most powerful in the film; and, interestingly enough, they are not found in the original story by C. S. Lewis. The film begins with a droning noise, the engine sound of World War II German bombers making a nighttime air raid on London.
What happens in these first scenes establishes the theme of the movie: war brings separation first and foremost from the father. With the father out of the way, the family is vulnerable to the enemy's attack. The Pevensie family goes into the bomb shelter (grave-like in appearance) to escape the falling bombs, but the real damage has already been done. The smashed picture of their father is the visual evidence that a family has been broken and all the relationships shattered. Affliction now pierces the heart and opens the door for the real enemy to enter.1 Peter, the eldest, is forced to assume the paternal role, making him harsh and bossy. Edmund responds to Peter's new authority with rebellion, while Susan shuts down and becomes joyless and critical. The youngest child, little Lucy, goes into hiding under a blanket of fear.
'"Within my heart I made closets, and in them many a chest,' writes the seventeenth-century religions poet, George Herbert, in Confession."
"'Closets are dark, and chests within closets even darker,' but then the poet goes on to describe the afflictions God sends (such as grief) as being able to make closets into halls and hearts in highways.'"2
The Professor's spare room and the wardrobe within it are the closet and chest in Herbert's poem, Confession; the places in a heart where afflictions (like grief) take up residence.3 The children must go into the wardrobe; for what they first encounter in Narnia has everything to do with what happened in the bomb shelter. Lucy is kidnapped by fear (Mr. Tumnus), and Edmund's rebellion and insubordination open him up to a witch who masquerades as a Queen (I Samuel 15:23).
It is no secret that C. S. Lewis, the 20th century's foremost Christian apologist, wrote The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe as a Christian allegory. Aslan, the great lion, is the Christ figure that sacrifices his own life in order to redeem the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve. What does seem to be secret, however, is a real understanding of the Christian story itself. Unfortunately, the Christian Gospel is presented today as nothing more than a sure ticket to get you into "heaven" when you die.4
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe film beautifully portrays the full measure of the Gospel; the "Good News" is all that was lost in separation from the Father is now being RESTORED through the sacrifice of His Son. The Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve are not only redeemed, but their true glory will be revealed. (Note how each child is assaulted in their unique glory; i.e. Edmund the traitor is really Edmund the Just, Lucy the fearful is Lucy the Valiant, etc.) They will exercise dominion over a renewed Earth as they were originally intended to do (Genesis 1:26-28). After all, the prophecy is "All things will be made new", not as so many read it, "All new things." (Revelation 21:5).
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe is not a myth or a fairy tale. It is a parable, a way of seeing and hearing the Truth. It is also a great invitation, for all one has to do is open the door. "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne." (Revelation 3:20-21).
1. Beauty and affliction are the two things that pierce the heart. Simone Weil
2. From the book, Heart, by Gail Godwin; pg 196; William Morrow Publisher
3. C. S. Lewis was considered a scholar on the writing's of George Herbert.
4. See Chapter 3 of The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard for further insights
into how the Gospel is presented today.