Book Recommendation: What I Learned in Narnia by Douglas Wilson
I recently read Doug Wilson's What I Learned in Narnia and loved it so much I wanted to recommend it to my readers. As my readers are aware, I love CS Lewis. I have read the Narnia series at least five times in my life and have read almost everything else by Lewis multiple times. So, there was some part of me that wondered if there was much to learn from this book. But liking Wilson as an author, along with a subject I obviously enjoy, I decided to try it. It was well worth it. I found myself enjoying anew the insights of Lewis and wishing that I had read this book when my kids were younger so that I could have used it as a study guide as we read these books together. But this book is not just for kids. Adults can and should read it.
Wilson does a brilliant job of recognizing and articulating the mind of Lewis and providing example after example to illustrate key themes. He discusses the Narnian lessons on confession of sin, nobility, spiritual disciplines, story telling, grace, and what Narnia tells us about loving Jesus.
One of the most helpful portions of the book is his discussion on what it means to submit. This is a very biblical concept that Lewis clearly thought important but modern society has rejected. Wilson does an excellent job of showing why this was important to Lewis and how it still applies even in our modern day. “True submission never grovels," Wilson writes, "and true authority never accepts flattery.” Later he writes (speaking of characters from Lewis' The Magicians Nephew),
“But Jadis and Uncle Andrew are both magicians. And in this book we see that Jadis and Uncle Andrew both believe they are "above the rules." They both believe rules are only for ordinary, common people. In this way, they try to put themselves above all authority but their own. They do not want anybody telling them what to do and they do not want any rules telling them what to do. The problem with this, of course, is that you should never trust people who have strong views of authority when talking about people under them, but have very weak views of authority when talking about people over them. Whenever you encounter someone like that, you need to run in the other direction as fast and as far as you can—that person is going to abuse any authority they can get. One of the best things C. S. Lewis teaches us is that true authority can only be exercised by leaders who delight in submitting to authority themselves.”
This is incredibly helpful and true and is the sort of insight you get from this book. Wilson has obviously read Lewis and reflected on Lewis more than I have. He sees the brilliance of Lewis and rather than diminish it, his book magnifies it and makes me want to go back and read them again.
If you have not read the Chronicles of Narnia, go read them. Seriously, what is wrong with you. Adults and children should all read them. But if you have read them, go read this excellent book by Doug Wilson.