What Lies Beneath?

18/04/09 | Posted by Poppy

This week I watched a programme on BBC1 about the hidden code that explains all that deep hidden meaning in the Narnia books by CS Lewis. As ‘The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe’ was the first book I ever bought, for 2/6 back in the early 1960s, and I was a member of the CS Lewis society back in the 1980s, I was ready to scoff, but there may be something in it.

image
 Aslan from ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ by CS Lewis

The documentary was based around the book ‘Planet Narnia’ by Michael Ward and the theory seems to be that Lewis based used imagery associated with the seven heavens of the medieval cosmos to construct the seven Narnia stories. So ‘Prince Caspian’ is based around Mars, the god of war. The story is about a civil war in Narnia with the young Prince Caspian leading the true Narnians into battle against his evil uncle Miraz. The god Mars, according to the author of ‘Planet Narnia’ is associated with trees, so that accounts for all the tree characters in the book. ‘The Silver Chair’ is a book based around the moon and even the title is a moonlike colour. So it does seem to work as a theory although it would be a real challenge to structure the books in this way. Lewis was a clever, complex and secretive man. I think he would have enjoyed that challenge but of course we will have to wait for the book ‘The Narnia Code Debunked’ to come out to hear the opposing viewpoint.

We love reading and hearing stories. There is something really satisfying about a well written or well told story.  If that story works on a number of levels then it means we can go back and enjoy it a number of times, getting something different each time. 

If you look at the best selling book every written, the Bible, then there are many different layers of meaning. This is one book that can’t be read just as a simple story. There is a lot of work to do in most places to understand what the writers were getting at. Firstly the book is in translation from a language that isn’t spoken any more and which doesn’t always translate in a literal way into modern English. Then the Bible is a series of stories, histories, letters and poetry all put together so you have to work out whether you are reading poetry or something different. Of course once language and literary style has been worked out then there is the problems thrown up in understanding a different culture. The Bible was written in a time when people lived close to the land and understood stories about shepherds and wheatfields.

It all seems like a lot of hard work. But it is worth it? Where else can you find the result of centuries of different people at different times trying to put into words their encounters with God? And some of those encounters, which form part of the New Testament, are encounters with someone, whose close friends, began to believe was God. There was a lot of thinking that came later trying to make sense of that life of Jesus, but the raw material is in the Bible and it repays repeated readings.

So the Bible has lots of layers, just like Narnia, but how is this important today?

In a world that is still struggling to deal with an ecomonic crisis that has ripped around the globe then a way of living that is summed up as ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength, and love your neighbour as yourself’  Matthew 22 34-40 has to be worth a second look.  It needs thinking about of course, nothing is entirely simple.

Who is my neighbour?

What do I love most in the world?

What do I worship? Celebrity, power, money?

What are the hidden codes in my life and once I’ve identified them can I change? It isn’t a matter of writing a best selling book, but changing the way you live your life. That is very hard but if worshipping money, power and celebrity have got the world into the mess it is in maybe looking again at a life lived two thousand years ago and seeing how it might change us today.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I missed this programme but your summary is interesting and the points you make are well made.

Perhaps I could quote the great man himself, C.S. Lewis that is not Jesus, who had this to say about those who found all sorts of hidden meanings (he calls them guesses) in his writings (he wrote this in an essay about biblical criticism):
“My impression is that in the whole of my experience not one of those guesses has on any one point been right: that the method shows a record of 100 per cent failure. You would expect that by mere chance they would hit as often as they miss. But it is my impression that they do no such thing. I can’t remember a single hit.”

I love a good mystery as much as anyone but perhaps sometimes there just isn’t a hidden meaning to be discovered but only what is obvious before us.

#1. By JesusCourse on April 21, 2009

not only did isee the programme but have met michael ward who is a truly unassuming and godly christian, who i believe has found the structure(ihate the word code) that c.s lewis used to construct the narnia collection, this kind of thing is ot unusual with lewis’s writings ,i refer you to the screwtape letters. the structure was there for all to see we just did not see it until it was ponted out by michael so let us not walk around with noses out of joint because we did not see it first

#2. By roy dagger on April 29, 2009

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