I could have done without A Boy and His Horse.
I found the casting of Aslan’s Voice in the books on tape dreadful.
I still think Peter Pevensie is a little too big for his britches, and wish Lewis truly cut him down to size before leaving him in London-town.
But I finally reached the age when I was ready for an epic volume of child literature, and if anything, CS Lewis has been the bassline undercurrent of my 2010. To that end, I have thoroughly enjoyed my year in Narnia. Number Five on this year’s list is the bassline (yes, with two s’s), The Chronicles of Narina.
My oldest son Andrew turned seven this year, and right before his birthday, we began reading The Chronicles of Narnia together. It is hard to describe fully the impact the Narnian Odyssey has had on the Day Family. For one, I feel like my children are receiving what Lewis would call an education of “the right books.” Their already rich imaginations are more fertile, their innate masculinity has more purpose. By example, no character in Narnia is more painful to read then Eustace Scrub, a boy who is a dullard and who reaches the age of ‘tween with scarcely an imaginative bone in his body. Correspondingly, he runs away on a deserted island and becomes a hideous dragon. Now that’s a moral lesson for the seven and under set! The “right book” education has come alive in my children in their walks in the woods, in spotting a bobcat in the backyard, in Isaiah’s obsession with beauty (and recently, rainbows), in Jeremiah’s early confidence and strength, and Andrew’s Peter-styled leadership. We just found out last night that Andrew is captain of his recess soccer team. He has been all year. They always lost until Andrew decided to start marking the movements of the other team’s best player and ordered his teammates to start studying that player’s preferred tendencies. They created a trap defense (they’re 6 and 7, and playing at recess) and now they’re winning all the games. Again, we just found this out. It’s not quite carrying a sword around the first grade, but the taste of the heroic life is on the tongues and hearts of my kids.
For me, Lewis has always represented the challenge in Christian exegesis. I have always respected his deep intellect, but never really embraced the vitality of his thoughts. This year, that changed. The haunting teaching a friend shared from Screwtape Letters has echoed in my head for the last six months: The Enemy lives in the past and the future; God lives in the Present and Eternity. So many wise men who have gone before me have told me, “Ben, these years, your mid-30’s, they’re the best years. Don’t miss them.” The adventure, humor, and overall grand story of Narnia brings that home. So many of these men missed some or all of these years. My present is my glimpse into eternity, be it with my children, my wife or my own story.
To that end, I will cherish my family’s year in Narnia.