Magic in the Narniad and Righteous Indignation

by May 19, 2008Uncategorized1 comment

The release of Prince Caspian occasioned some discussion at my office recently. Some good Christians are—understandably, if they haven’t read the Narniad—wary of the magic in Lewis’s “supposal.”

Let me hasten to say that I do not want to push anyone past his conscience. But recriminations are coming back against Narnia lovers! And the reason I am a Narnia lover is that the series has helped me understand and love the God whose truth the Narniad pictures.

So let me offer some humble defenses of the “magic” in the Narniad (with some help from respected friends who discussed this with me recently).

In The Silver Chair, Jill, who’s never been to Narnia, suggests to the already-initiated Eustace various magical ways to get there:

“You mean we might draw a circle on the ground—and writer queer letters in it—and stand inside it—and recite charms and spells?”

“Well,” said Eustace after he had thought hard for a bit. “I believe that was the sort of thing I was thinking of, though I never did it. But now that it comes to the point, I’ve an idea that all those circles and things are rather rot. I don’t think [Aslan would] like them. It would look as if we thought we could make him do things. But really, we can only ask him.”

In other words, the kind of magic that the critics are worried about is explicitly condemned in the series. The other time someone tries to draw a magic circle, that someone (Nikabrik) winds up dead.

As for what Lewis calls the “deep magic,” this seems to be nothing more than the laws the Emperor (God) has established in the Narnia universe. See the OED definition of “magic” for how the word was used in the Middle Ages, perhaps the major period of history from which Lewis drew for his masterpiece.

Read More 

The First Thing I Ever Wrote That I Still Have

This is so random, and I don't know who would care—but I just stumbled across the very first document I saved in what ultimately became my Dropbox/Academics folder. It was an exercise I wrote for an English class in high school. I was 16 and 3 mos. What I find...

A Little Help for Your Charitableness from Kevin DeYoung

A Little Help for Your Charitableness from Kevin DeYoung

There are few figures on the national evangelical scene that I like and trust more than Kevin DeYoung. I think he nails the balance between, on the one hand, graciousness and fairness and charity and, on the other (can anything be on the other hand from...

Review: The Power Broker, by Robert Caro

Review: The Power Broker, by Robert Caro

The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York by Robert A. Caro My rating: 5 of 5 stars Robert Caro is fascinated by power. He has given his life to exploring how it is gained and kept. And in Robert Moses, the subject of this epic book, power looks like the...

Review: Finding the Right Hills to Die On by Gavin Ortlund

Review: Finding the Right Hills to Die On by Gavin Ortlund

Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage by Gavin Ortlund My rating: 4 of 5 stars Gracious, clear, accessible. Extremely well done. I nearly docked him a star for being ever-so-slightly in a different place than I am on creationism (though I...

Leave a comment.

1 Comment
  1. Todd Jones

    Mark,

    Great work. Narnia was the first land I visited in literature, and to this day is my favorite one (or a close second to Middle-earth, depending on the day). Eustace’s mature answer to Jill parallels Nikabrik’s failure quite nicely, and I think you’ve gotten close to Lewis’s true heart on the matter.

    Have you also considered Lewis’s treatment of the Eastern magicians Caspian and party met during their voyage?

    Reply

Leave a Reply to Todd Jones Cancel reply