C. S. Lewis published the first of the Chronicles of Narnia in 1950, followed by six others. Over the decades since, parents have read these books to their children as bedtime stories, and children have read them for themselves when they got a little older. That is a very profitable way to explore Narnia. But can grown-ups return to Narnia, finding meaning and wonder there for themselves? To this I say, emphatically: YES.
That emphatic YES motivates a new book we just released with Ignatius Press called The Chronicles of Transformation: A Spiritual Journey with C. S. Lewis. I am actually the editor of the volume, in which we challenge adult readers to contemplate Lewis’ chronicles as profound, meaningful, and delightful immersions into a pilgrimage toward moral and spiritual growth. In the volume you will find one essay for each of the seven chronicles, with each one written by a different scholar of theology, literature, and the arts. There are also seven original illustrations in the volume––again, one for each chronicle––that present stunning glimpses into the narratives through rich symbolism. These illustrations are accompanied by a sevenfold poem cycle, completely new and original to this book, that draws us toward wondering at the majestic Lion Aslan whom we come to know for a little while in the vast land of Narnia. And before all of that, there is an introductory chapter on “Arriving at Narnia” which helps us prepare to re-engage these chronicles and the journey they beckon us toward, while also teaching us about what Lewis set out to do with his chronicles. The author of that introductory chapter is the guest on today’s episode, which was originally recorded a few years ago for a lecture series we hosted that first explored this whole topic.
David Fagerberg is professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame. For years and years, he has taught a hugely popular course on the theme of deification in the literature of C. S. Lewis, in addition another courses on G. K. Chesterton and a whole host of courses in his field of specialization, which is liturgical theology. Among his book publications are On Liturgical Theology, Liturgical Mysticism, and Liturgical Dogmatics.
You can find his essay on “Arriving at Narnia” at the beginning of The Chronicles of Transformation: A Spiritual Journey with C. S. Lewis, edited by Leonard DeLorenzo (that’s me) and published by Ignatius Press.