To make theology entertaining. The seven books for children which comprises the Chronicles of Narnia, published between 1950-1956 was a high accomplishment.
As “space” was the medium of his trilogy, another common science fiction element, “dimension” is that of the children’s series. Narnia is a realm visited at different times by a number of Earth children. Time in Narnia and time on Earth are disparate, and Lewis is able to disclose to us within one earthly generation all the centuries of Narnian time from its creation to the fulfillment of Last Things, the end of the Narnian world which was a joyous and not sorrowful culmination.
Dominating the stories is the glowing, golden figure of the Lion, Aslan; the lion being an ancient, but now little known symbol in Christian art. He is a real lion but he is also the Secongd Person of the Trinity, just as in the Nicene Creed Christ is “Very God of very God” who was made man. Aslan is the One “by whom all things were made” and by whom Narnian time is drawn to its close. Lewis shows us that act of creation, Narnia brought into existence and beauty through the song of Aslan; we see, too, the end-that-is-a-beginning as He changes all things, abolishes all evil, and calls His own to Him in new being. But nothing in the chronicles matches for audacity of conception and boldness of invention the analogue of the crucifixation and resurrection. Aslan surrenders Himself to cruel death as a substitute for others, in fulfillment of ancient law. He rises again to watch over His creation.
Lewis is at the center of a great debate: What is the reality of our being and our environment? The doctrine of Creation, that all things were made by god, and the doctrine of man, as a free, responsible, guilty, redeemable creature of god, were high in his concern. This is the source of vigor in his work, the cause of the extremes of acceptance and rejection which he arouses in people; for Lewis was bitterly attacked by those to whom his Christian premises are unsympathetic or unreal. Even within Christian circles he had his foes. Some were shocked by his imaginative freshness of statement and counted him unorthodox. At another extreme he was regarded as too orthodox by those who will not accept the bold, relentless terms in which he sometimes dramatized the alternatives between which people must choose.
But C.S. Lewis’s war was upon the diminishers of humanity. In one of his short polemics, The Abolition of Man, he traced and celebrated the world embracing, humane, enlightened and religious vision common to Platonic, Aristotelian, Stoic, Christian, and Oriental philosophy alike. For brevity, he calls it by its Chinese name, the Tao. It is against the Tao, as much as any creed, that war is waged by those who deny the objective reality of what we term beauty,truth, morality,honor, justice, love, and belief, demeaning the reality in which we live by claiming that these entities are mere subjective states of mind.
In the end we can remember him for ” the true king of night…Jupiter rising above the Asteroids.” An we can remember the awesome glimpse of the Great Dance at the conclusion of Perelandra: that Great Dance which is the ultimate order and purpose of all created things. Are we to say these are not real? They can be counted among the great symbolic visions of ultimate reality which reveal to us that we are more- and are a part of more- than the hard wiring of our senses can record.