The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
Friday Book Pick: The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis
“A voice had begun to sing. It was very far away and Digory found it hard to decide from what direction it was coming. Sometimes it seemed to come from all directions at once. Sometimes he almost thought it was coming out of the earth beneath them. Its lower notes were deep enough to be the voice of the earth herself. There were no words. It was hardly a tune. But it was beyond comparison, the most beautiful sound he had ever heard. It was so beautiful he could hardly bare it.”
This is the beginning of Narnia—its creation—by Aslan. It goes on, “Then two wonders happened at the same moment. One was that the Voice was suddenly joined by other voices, more voices than you could possibly count…cold, tingling, silvery voices.” The stars are sung into being and immediately they join in the song. The verse from the book of Job comes to mind, “While the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy.” (Job 37:8).
“The eastern sky changed from white to pink and from pink to gold. The Voice rose and rose till all the air was shaking with it. And just as it swelled to the mightiest and most glorious sound it had yet produced, the sun arose.”
Through the creative lens of a fictional story, in this case The Magician’s Nephew, we can really see in our minds’ eye what it could have been like to be present when God created the world. One could argue that believing that God created the world is enough; so what if I can’t imagine Him doing it?
For some, the stark facts of our faith are an important litany of beliefs intellectually held. But with a vivid imagination, the tenants of our faith come to life. And once the faith becomes real to us, we relate to it differently, we hold it more closely.
The imagination was extremely important to St. Ignatius of Loyola—the great spiritual director and teacher of prayer. The method of prayer that he taught relies on a working imagination. He taught a process of contemplation in which we imaginatively see the Gospel event, we hear the words spoken, and we observe the actions accomplished in the Scripture passage. And once we engage the Scriptures in this way, we are better prepared to place ourselves in the scene and hear the Word spoken directly to us, to our situation. The problem is, with all the visual images provided for us through advancements in technology, our imaginations have suffered.
Reading is a great stimulus to the imagination and thus a stimulus to your prayer life. That is one good reason to pick up The Chronicles of Narnia. And whether you are teaching your own children or an RCIA group or a Sunday-school class on the topic of creation – I recommend having the vibrantly beautiful image of Aslan creating Narnia in The Magician’s Nephew as a spectacular example to ignite imagination.
This is the tenth “Book Pick” in a series on the works of the great Irish-born author C.S. Lewis.