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The Question of the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle: The Northern Witches

by always narnian

It seems like often times the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle have been connected in some way. In the BBC adaptations, the same actress, Barbara Kellerman, portrays both the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as well as the Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair. However, this could be a coincidence, as Barbara Kellerman also played the Hag in Prince Caspian. When a newer Silver Chair film was being discussed, it seemed that often times people wondered if Tilda Swinton would return, starring as the Green Lady of Underland. But why? How has this become a popular idea? Could the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle be one and the same enchantress? Why do these two villains seem so often associated with one another?

Our first and most obvious argument against this idea may be that Aslan killed the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

“The battle was all over a few minutes after their arrival. Most of the enemy had been killed in the first charge of Aslan and his companions; and when those who were still living saw that the Witch was dead they either gave themselves up or took to flight.”

She was dead, no doubt, for even her armies saw her as dead. The only possible explanation around this would be that she only appeared dead, but then Aslan would have made a huge mistake.

LadyoftheGreenKirtle

Pauline Baynes’ illustration of the Lady of the Green Kirtle

TheWhiteWitch

Pauline Baynes’ illustration of the White Witch

In Prince Caspian there is thought toward calling the White Witch back from the dead, but this is hastily stopped by Caspian and a few of his friends in the chapter Sorcery and Sudden Vengeance. But let us theorize that, later on, someone did call the White Witch back and she resurfaces as the Lady of the Green Kirtle. She certainly has changed. Pauline Baynes’ illustrations of the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle are distinctly different. In the illustrations of Jadis (in both The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe) she is portrayed as a dark-haired and stern woman, whereas in the illustrations of the Queen of Underland, she appears more fair and almost gentle. Wouldn’t Lewis point out to Baynes that the two Witches were drawn so differently, if, in fact, they were the same person? Lewis was in contact with Pauline Baynes about certain illustrations in the series and it seems Lewis would most likely note this. [1]

These two arguments are valid, but let’s find the passage where this whole theory very possibly originated. Toward the end of The Silver Chair book, we see these two characters mentioned together.

“And while they [Eustace and Jill] slept Prince Rilian was talking over the whole adventure with the older and wiser Beasts and Dwarfs. And now they all saw what it meant; how a wicked Witch (doubtless the same kind as that White Witch who had brought the Great Winter on Narnia long ago) had contrived the whole thing, first killing Rilian’s mother and enchanting Rilian himself. And they saw how she had dug right under Narnia and was going to break out and rule it through Rilian: and how he had never dreamed that the country of which she would make him king (king in name, but really her slave) was his own country.”

This passage is soon followed by a statement from one of the dwarfs:

“‘And the lesson of it all is, your Highness,’ said the oldest Dwarf, ‘that those Northern Witches always mean the same thing, but in every age they have a different plan for getting it.’”

Having debunked the theory of these two ladies being the same enchantress, what does this quote from The Silver Chair actually mean? We know that the Queen of Underland and Jadis were of the same kind. As far as we know, Jadis didn’t have any descendants. We know that nearly all the people in the Witch’s original country, Charn, were killed. What might the old Dwarf in The Silver Chair mean by the Northern Witches? Of course, this could mean that the Lady of the Green Kirtle was a Jinn, as Jadis was. But how did the Green Lady of Underland get into Narnia? We are not told her story and unfortunately I do not have an answer for you.

This statement about the White Witch and the Lady of the Green Kirtle is one of several instances where C.S. Lewis seemed to leave much to the reader’s imagination. It makes you wonder if he himself had any idea who these Northern Witches were and how Jadis and the Lady of the Green Kirtle both fell under this category. What are your thoughts? Has this mystery in Narnia ever stuck out to you?
[1] Examples of Lewis and Baynes’ correspondence can be seen in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963

The Magician’s Nephew Versus The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe: Which Should be Read First?

By Always Narnian

There has been much discussion in the past as to which order the Narnia series should be read in. At the moment, I am not going into such detail as to cover the entire series, but instead am going to focus on which of the books is better to begin the series with: The Magician’s Nephew or The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. This month is the 60th anniversary of the publishing of The Magician’s Nephew, now often labeled as book one in the Narnia series, though The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the book that began the whole series, was first published five years earlier. So which of these should be read as the opening book to this magical world?

The Magician’s Nephew may seem the logical choice as the introduction to this series, as it recounts the origins of the world of Narnia. The Magician’s Nephew is an intriguing story about a boy named Digory and his friend Polly who get sent to another world by magic rings and later discover the land of Narnia. This book gives the perfect background to better understand this boy who later becomes the Professor that the Pevensie children go to stay with in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Lewis told the Kilmer family to whom he had dedicated The Magician’s Nephew:

“You must have often wondered how the old Professor in The Lion, Witch & W could have believed all the children told him about Narnia. The reason was that he had been there himself as a little boy. This book tells you how he went there, and (of course that was ages and ages ago by Narnian time) how he saw Aslan creating Narnia, and how the White Witch first got into that world and why there was a lamp-post in the middle of that forest.” [1]

This story does indeed help you to better understand the whys and hows of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You know how Narnia came to be such a fantastical land, how the animals there can talk and are bigger than normal-sized creatures. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe you don’t know how the Witch came to be ruling over Narnia. You do not understand why the Professor knows all he does about Narnia, why he tells Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy: “Yes, of course you’ll get back to Narnia again someday. Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia.” After reading Digory’s story, you do know why the Professor believes them, and you even know how the wardrobe could transport Lucy to Narnia in the first place (you might remember that Digory took the tree planted from the Narnian apple and created the wardrobe from it).

Now let’s look at The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the first book. Let’s consider two quotes from these novels. Near the closing of The Magician’s Nephew a line comes up that says: “That was the beginning of all the comings and goings between Narnia and our world, which you can read of in other books.” This, of course, would be obvious to the reader who has already read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. You get a sense of “Yes, this is how that world came into existence and there are other times when people have gotten into the world of Narnia, as I have already read.” However, the end quote of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe goes as follows: “And that is the very end of the adventure of the wardrobe. But if the Professor was right it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia.” One who is reading this book as the second in the series would say, “Well, technically not. Even the Professor has had an adventure there of his own, I read about it already.” When you read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe as the first book you do not understand who the Professor is, he is very mysterious and intriguing. Why would he say the things he does to the children? Reading this story first seems to make The Magician’s Nephew have more of an appeal to those who already know a bit about Narnia, a desire to know the back-story. Someone reading The Magician’s Nephew first may take it simply as the beginning of a story, not as a revelation of things you already know about this world. Certain hints in The Magician’s Nephew text also stick out better once you have already known about them in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe:

“The lamp-post which the Witch had planted (without knowing it) shone day and night in the Narnian forest, so that the place where it grew came to be called Lantern Waste; and when, many years later, another child from our world got into Narnia, on a snowy night, she found the light still burning. And that adventure was, in a way, connected with the ones I have just been telling you.”

Another example is the quote about Digory’s wardrobe: “And though he himself did not discover the magic properties of that wardrobe, someone else did.” These quotes do not read the same if The Magician’s Nephew is the first Narnia novel you have read. They are simply interesting statements, and almost a little random to the newcomer. They are not random for those who have already seen these adventures unfurl in Narnia.

Lewis, of course, had something to say about the order of this series. In one of his letters to a boy named Laurence, Lewis wrote:

“I think I agree with your order [Chronological Order] for reading the books more than with your mother’s [Published Order]. The series was not planned beforehand as she thinks. When I wrote The Lion I did not know I was going to write any more. Then I wrote P. Caspian as a sequel and still didn’t think there would be any more, and when I had done the Voyage I felt quite sure it would be the last. But I found I was wrong. So perhaps it does not matter very much in which order anyone reads them.” [2]

This may explain why some of the ties between The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and The Magician’s Nephew can be a little confusing. Lewis did not yet know the full extent of these stories when he wrote the first novel.

So, what exactly has this brief article revealed? Perhaps not an overly strong argument, but we have considered how reading a back-story before or after the main story are two completely different experiences. It can change the way you think of that particular story. As Lewis said, he did not know there were going to be any more stories, perhaps why The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe may seem so much like the first book of a series. However, Lewis agreed chronological was best and shared preference for this order with Walter Hooper, putting The Magician’s Nephew as the first. [3]

So what is your preference? Which of these timeless tales should be chosen by a new reader as the introduction to Narnia?

[1] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963 edited by Walter Hooper
[2] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963 edited by Walter Hooper
[3] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963 edited by Walter Hooper, endnote

Tolkien’s and Lewis’ Thoughts on Fantasy & Fairy-stories

By Always Narnian

What is fantasy? What comes to your mind when you hear the word? Dragons, wizards, fairies? The Merriam-Webster dictionary definitions of the word are: “something that is produced by the imagination: an idea about doing something that is far removed from normal reality” and “a book, movie, etc., that tells a story about things that happen in an imaginary world”. Two examples of the latter definition would be The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis and The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, though these are only two examples of a very wide genre. However, these definitions do not fully cover the two authors’ visions for this type of fiction.

As a basis for this article, I would like to start out with a quote from a letter of Tolkien’s:

“[The Lord of the Rings] is a ‘fairy-story’, but one written – according to the belief I once expressed in an extended essay ‘On Fairy-stories’ that they are the proper audience – for adults. Because I think that fairy story has its own mode of reflecting ‘truth’, different from allegory, or (sustained) satire, or ‘realism’, and in some ways more powerful. But first of all it must succeed just as a tale, excite, please, and even on occasion move, and within its own imagined world be accorded (literary) belief. To succeed in that was my primary object.” [1]

“Proper Audience”
Tolkien and Lewis both felt that “fairy-stories” or “fantasies” were not intended merely for children. Tolkien went so far as to even think adults more suited for fairy-stories than children, as evinced by the quote in the previous paragraph and others such as:

“But fairy-stories offer also, in a peculiar degree or mode, these things: Fantasy, Recovery, Escape, Consolation, all things of which children have, as a rule, less need than older people.” [2]

Lewis was perhaps not as strong on the idea that fairy tales were mostly for adults, but we see his view in an essay (On Three Ways of Writing for Children): “I now enjoy the fairy tales better than I did in childhood: being now able to put more in, of course, I get more out.” [3]

“Reflecting ‘Truth’”
This leads us into the subject of Christianity, or religion, in fantasy. Though many tend to say that Narnia contains allegory, or they find allegorical meanings in The Lord of the Rings, this was not how Lewis or Tolkien viewed their writings. Lewis wrote in a letter once:

“In reality however [Aslan] is an invention giving an imaginary answer to the question, ‘What might Christ become like if there really were a world like Narnia and He chose to be incarnate and die and rise again in that world as He actually has done in ours?’ This is not an allegory at all.” [4]

Lewis’ religion was perhaps “more direct” in his stories, as seen in him clarifying that Aslan indeed represents Christ in the world of Narnia, whereas Tolkien took a different approach in The Lord of the Rings:

“Certainly it has no allegorical intentions, general, particular, or topical, moral, religious, or political… It is a monotheistic world of ‘natural theology’. The odd fact that there are no churches, temples, or religious rites and ceremonies, is simply part of the historical climate depicted… I am in any case myself a Christian; but the ‘Third Age’ was not a Christian world.” [5]

Tolkien’s depiction of truth in his stories could also be seen in light of this quote:

“Myth and fairy-story must, as all art, reflect and contain in solution elements of moral and religious truth (or error), but not explicit, not in the known form of the primary ‘real’ world.” [6]

What he was saying is that for him, in an imaginary world, things will not always be like they are in our world now. In his stories, the hobbits and elves did not go to “church” but they had a monotheistic society—their “religion” is played out in a different way. Lewis, on the other hand, used specific points in The Chronicles of Narnia to represent events or ideas from actual occurrences or truths in the Bible.

“Literary Belief”
How do Middle-earth and Narnia differ in their “literary belief”? Middle-earth is an expansive world, with a history and a mythology of its own. Lewis, in his own fantasy realm of Narnia, incorporates figures we see in Greek mythology, thus his creatures are already familiar to us. Of course, there are certain things we may recognize in Tolkien’s stories such as trolls, elves and dwarves. His myth is in many ways based on our real world, giving it a convincing tone and making it something that the reader could certainly relate to. Tolkien said in one of his letters that

“‘Middle-earth’, by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in… And though I have not attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land-masses to what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imaginatively this ‘history’ is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet.”[7]

Middle-earth is supposed to feel as if it is, in fact, historical. It happened in the world where we now live. Lewis’ Land of Narnia, on the other hand, is a place that people from our own world can access when they are called there by Aslan. Many of the creatures (fauns, centaurs, dryads) are also those that we see in the mythology of past cultures. Another interesting fact is that it was an English couple that were the first humans to live in Narnia as King and Queen. There is also a direct connection between Aslan and the person of Christ as seen in Aslan’s statement in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: “But there [i.e. in our world] I have another name.” Here we see in these stories ties to the real world: Tolkien’s a seeming past history, Lewis’ interconnected with the people of our world.

True, these stories are outpourings of these authors’ geniuses and are not events that actually took place. However, Lewis and Tolkien did speak of certain history having a “myth-like” feel, as seen in this quote by Lewis:

“Now as myth transcends thought, Incarnation transcends myth. The heart of Christianity is a myth which is also a fact. The old myth of the Dying God, without ceasing to be myth comes down from the heaven of legend and imagination to the earth of history. It happens—at a particular date, in a particular place, followed by definable historical consequences.” [8]

Lewis also made a point in a letter to a certain Miss Matthews that

“You can have a realistic story in which all the things & people are exactly like those we meet in real life, but the quality, the feel or texture or smell, of it is not. In a great romance it is just the opposite. I’ve never met Orcs or Ents or Elves-but the feel of it, the sense of a huge past, of lowering danger, of heroic tasks achieved by the most apparently unheroic people, of distance, vastness, strangeness, homeliness (all blended together) is so exactly what living feels like to me.” [9]

So is Fantasy important? Are fans really just getting excited for nothing? Fantasy can and often does have an impact on our lives. It can be used to paint pictures of the real world and what Christ has done in this world. Of course, in this world things are not perfect, even as Tolkien pointed out:

“Fantasy can, of course, be carried to excess. It can be ill done. It can be put to evil uses. It may even delude the minds out of which it came. But of what human thing in this fallen world is that not true?” [10]

Some people are gifted with telling about God’s story through means of their imagination, but we must never allow our imagination to overshadow the story of Christ. As Tolkien said, “Fantasy remains a human right: we make in our measure and in our derivative mode, because we are made: and not only made, but made in the image and likeness of a Maker.” [11]

Note: If you are interested in learning more about what Lewis and Tolkien thought on the subject of Fantasy (or Fairy-stories), I would advise reading their own writings (especially their essays and letters). What I have said here is only a very small sampling and cannot fully relate what they thought on such matters in so short of an article, especially since I myself did not have a chance to read all the material that actually exists. Check out my sources below.

References:

[1] The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Selected and edited by Humphrey Carpenter With the assistance of Christopher Tolkien, Letter 181 To Michael Straight [drafts]
[2] Tree and Leaf: On Fairy-stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
[3] The Quotable Lewis by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, Editors: Quote from Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories, “On Three Ways of Writing for Children”
[4] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963 Edited by Walter Hooper
[5] The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Selected and edited by Humphrey Carpenter With the assistance of Christopher Tolkien, Letter 165 To the Houghton Mifflin Co.
[6] From the Preface to the Second Edition of The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien and edited by Christopher Tolkien
[7] The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Selected and edited by Humphrey Carpenter With the assistance of Christopher Tolkien, Letter 165 To the Houghton Mifflin Co.
[8] The Quotable Lewis by Wayne Martindale and Jerry Root, Editors: Quote from God in the Dock, “Myth Became Fact”
[9] The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963 Edited by Walter Hooper
[10] Tree and Leaf: On Fairy-stories by J.R.R. Tolkien
[11] Tree and Leaf: On Fairy-stories by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Spiritual Themes of the Narnian Tales

By Always Narnian

This season, as Christmas comes and the year draws to an end, it is appropriate to direct our focus to the core of this holiday and the reason for it: Jesus Christ. The way I am choosing to do so in this article is by bringing to mind that “The whole Narnian story is about Christ”, as Lewis said in a letter to an individual named Anne. In this letter Lewis also laid out the foremost spiritual themes of each Narnian story. C.S. Lewis’ own description of these themes will precede my thoughts on each book. [1]

The Magician’s Nephew tells the creation and how evil entered Narnia.”
As God spoke everything into existence, so Aslan creates Narnia with his song in The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan sets a King and Queen to rule over the talking beasts, just as God placed man in authority over the earth: “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth’” (Genesis 1:26). Though man was created perfect and without sin, they were tempted by the serpent to disobey God, thus causing a rift between themselves and the holy Creator. In a similar manner Digory played a part in bringing evil to the world of Narnia, in the fact that with him came the Witch Jadis.

The Lion etc — the Crucifixion and Resurrection”
Just as our sin needs an atonement, so Edmund’s treacherous deeds in the story of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe could only be wiped away by Aslan’s sacrifice. Edmund was worthy of death, yet Aslan took his place, just as Christ did ours: “and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed” (1 Peter 2:24). Death was not the end of Christ, for he rose again out of the tomb. Lewis painted a beautiful picture of this Resurrection in Aslan’s return from the dead.

Prince Caspian — restoration of the true religion after a corruption”
Just as the Telmarines tried to extinguish the true Narnians, so often the world seeks to overtake the people who believe in God and His word. Persecutions have been started by evil and depraved people who try and get rid of God and His people. The Lord knew this tribulation would come to His followers, yet He has kept His word alive and His children remain. “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

The Horse and his Boy — the calling and conversion of a heathen.”
One of the most touching moments in The Horse and His Boy is the scene where Aslan reveals himself to Shasta — how he had directed Shasta’s course so many times and how Shasta had not known it then. As Aslan chose to reveal himself to the “unconverted” Shasta through different events in his life, so God chooses to reveal himself to all through his creation: “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20). He also makes his character known to us through his revealed Word and through his Son Jesus — that Word made flesh: “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world” (Hebrews 1:1-2).

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader — the spiritual life (specially in Reepicheep)”
The Christian’s spiritual life is marked with a great longing to be with Jesus Christ, as Reepicheep longed to sail to Aslan’s country: “Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord — for we walk by faith, not by sight — we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

The Silver Chair — continued war against the powers of darkness”
Spiritual warfare in the Christian’s life is perhaps, though in a different way, very relatable to the difficulties that Jill, Eustace, and Puddleglum face. From the seemingly simple struggle Jill has remembering and keeping the signs, to the Lady of the Green Kirtle’s attempts to make them forget everything they had once known in Narnia, these things reflect the Christian’s everyday life: “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The Last Battle — the coming of Antichrist (the Ape). The end of the world, and the Last Judgement”
Knowing that the world will one day end is a sobering thought, and The Last Battle is indeed a story with more gravity, yet with a great and triumphant closing. Near Revelation’s end, there is a verse that describes the new Jerusalem and those in it: “And there will no longer be any night; and they will not have need of the light of a lamp nor the light of the sun, because the Lord God will illumine them; and they will reign forever and ever.” (Revelation 22:5) Those who enter Aslan’s country have this type of glorious homecoming as well: “But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”

Creation, Jesus’ death and resurrection, His involvement in His children’s lives, and His second coming are all key events that Narnia brings to the reader through the medium of fiction. Even near the close of the Narnia series, Lucy draws attention to Christ’s advent: “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.” As you celebrate Christmas this year, remember that Christ is the center of all things and that this holiday is about something greater than what the world has made it, just as Narnia is more than a good story.

[1] All quoted Spiritual Themes from The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis: Volume III: Narnia, Cambridge and Joy 1950-1963

C.S. Lewis on War

As we commemorate today what is known in various parts of the world as Veterans Day, Remembrance Day or Armistice Day (a celebration of the end of World War I and a time to reflect on the sacrifices of all soldiers), it seems fitting to take some time to consider what C.S. Lewis, a man who served in both World Wars, thought on the topic of war. This is especially fitting in as we look back on the centenary since the start of the first World War.

By Oresen

CS Lewis is one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. His wise mind and linguistic skill have garnered a following of millions of readers around the world even today. As such, it is no surprise that many have wondered what his views on war were.

There is no shortage of places where we can find war in his writings and from which we can draw reasonable conclusions on what he thought about war. We will focus on just two examples, and briefly discuss certain passages and themes within them. However, first it is important to note Lewis’ background as a British soldier.

Lewis was conscripted as a 19-year old and stationed in France during WWI. He survived it with only a shrapnel wound to his chest, but the experience was nonetheless horrible. [1] He described it as memories of

the smashed men still moving like half-crushed beetles, the sitting or standing corpses, the landscape of sheer earth without a blade of grass, the boots worn day and night till they seemed to grow to your feet. [2]

He then served in WWII, but this time domestically as a Home Guard at Oxford. [1] How then did Lewis’ opinions, having experienced first-hand two World Wars, manifest themselves in his books?

About a third of the way through The Screwtape Letters, an experienced demon, Screwtape, mentors a newbie, Wormwood, on how to use a new, upcoming “European war”; Lewis meant WWII.

Consider whether we should make the patient [a young Christian man Wormwood wants in hell] an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist. All extremes, are to be encouraged…Whichever side he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of the partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him into the stage at which religion becomes merely part of the “cause” and his [faith] is valued chiefly for the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war effort or of Pacifism.

It seems that Lewis saw that war was breaking out whether Christians would accept it or not, and the proper response was to still keep the faith’s values with utmost allegiance, yet join the fight for the cause of the country. Don’t let Patriotism consume to the point where fighting fueled with hatred and bloodlust, but don’t use religion to condemn those breaking the creed of Pacifism, either.

Another place war shows up in Lewis’ books is within The Chronicles of Narnia. All but The Magician’s Nephew and The Silver Chair have at least a couple of battles, after which Aslan usually appears to commend the various protagonists for their sacrifice and bravery on behalf of Narnia. In The Last Battle, Aslan even credits Emeth, a soldier from the enemy country Calormen, as being a seeker of good.

To those familiar with Narnia’s allegorical nature it may seem that Lewis is condoning war as some sort of test of allegiance to one’s country. Indeed, the land of Narnia, in its fight against neighbors who seek to subjugate it, represents the Kingdom of God on earth and the Christian’s fight to remain loyal to God and His commands whilst everywhere else society now ridicules the Bible and those who live by it. In The Screwtape Letters Lewis also writes that war is a very powerful reminder to all humans that death is coming, that the self is not omnipotent, and that focusing only on this life is foolish because of how short and uncertain it is. So did Lewis condone war over peace?

Lewis lived in a time probably all of us reading this can’t even imagine – a time where a dozen countries sent soldiers and bombs to fight and kill as many people as possible, twice! Based on the books of his that I’ve read, my conclusion is that Lewis, the author who came up with beloved fantasy worlds, was also a realist, and when and where he was born made it impossible for him not to see war as unavoidable, as being upon humanity whether or not anyone wants it to be. What he thought about how Christians should fight, however, is a whole other discussion.

You can find out a bit more on what Lewis thought of War in his essay “Why I’m not a Pacifist” published in The Weight of Glory and Compelling Reason.

Author’s note: I do know I’ve picked two examples of Lewis’ that happen to shine a pro-war light on him. There are surely works of his against fighting and against war, and if you know of any feel free to mention them below.

Sources:
[1] CS Lewis Institute
[2] ABC Australia