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 

Answering a Question about Political Philosophy

A friend asked me for my thinking—and my reading recommendations—on Christian political philosophy. I was pretty frank and open. I don't hold myself up as a master of the topic. I welcome input from others here. What should I read? What should my friend read? My...

Review: Means of Ascent

Means of Ascent by Robert A. CaroMy rating: 5 of 5 stars This book is positively monumental. How does Caro do it? Well, I know how he does it. I read his book on the topic. He does it with a lot of hard and humble work (and some excellent help from his wife). I was...

Authorized Documentary Freely Available on YouTube!

The Authorized infotainment documentary (emphasis on the -tainment, though I hope the info is good!) is now up on YouTube for free to everyone! This is kinda big! For some time it has been behind a paywall on FaithlifeTV. This project was one of the great privileges...

Review: Think Again by Stanley Fish

Think Again: Contrarian Reflections on Life, Culture, Politics, Religion, Law, and Education by Stanley FishMy rating: 5 of 5 stars I have read multiple Stanley Fish books; I read quite a number of these columns when they were originally published in the New York...

Leave a comment.

1 Comment
  1. Todd Jones


    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?