“I was the Lion”

An interesting article by Dr. Alan Snyder that appears here.

In my ongoing preparation for teaching C. S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia at my church, I’ve now completed five of the seven books, the latest being The Horse and His Boy. This book is unique as being the only one where no one from our world enters Narnia; rather, it focuses on two young people, Shasta and Aravis. The former is a slave seeking the freedom he heard exists in the land of Narnia; the second is a girl fleeing a marriage to an old man. Both live in the totalitarian country of Calormen.They are accompanied by two Talking Horses, Bree and Hwin, who also want to enter Narnia, where they once lived.

I won’t go into all the details of their journey, but at various points along the way, they were chased by a lion—the first encounter forced them to meet, as they had started separately and didn’t know one another. A second direct encounter made the horses run faster than they thought they could and got them to a place of safety at a hermit’s dwelling. Shasta, though bone-weary, was immediately given the task to run to the king of Archenland to inform him of a plot by Calormen to invade his kingdom.

Shasta succeeds in that mission, yet he is in a bad state: physically exhausted and mentally despondent. In that state of mind, he begins to drown in self-pity. “I think,” said Shasta, “that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me. . . . And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.”

Lewis captures how we all have felt at times, but then also captures how God can come to us when we are at our lowest.

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One thought on ““I was the Lion”

  1. Thank you for drawing this to our attention! Dr. Snyder’s article is a rich and varied testimony to what he says at the end, “The Chronicles of Narnia are considered children’s books, but they are so much more.” One little example of this that struck me as I read along is Lewis’s choice of words in the second passage he quotes. At first glance it seems odd he says “someone or somebody”, words I think we (or ‘one’) tend(s) to use as synonyms – but he soon develops this with the chiasmus “the Thing (or Person)” – we tend to think of ‘one’ as a “Person”, and a “body” as a “Thing” – or, for that matter an animal as a “Thing”. As the Horse’s Boy, Shasta knows talking animals are (so to put it) more ‘persons’ than at all like ‘mere things’. But, still in the dark when he finds his breathing companion also talks, his fear that it might be a giant grows, and accepting ‘it’ is not, he next asks, “You’re not – not something dead, are you?” – again “something”. The answer is “this is not the breath of a ghost.” As well as the Trinitarian suggestion D. Snyder (and Dr. Downing) discuss, there is quiet Incarnational and Resurrectional suggestion, here. The Large Voice (a serious play with Genesis 3:8,10?) does not deny having been ‘thingly dead’ (so to say), but insists ‘its’ breath is not that of such a ‘”ghost”. Fascinating is the insistence “There was only one lion”, “I was” – not ‘I Providentially sent various… ‘ – including “I was the cat”! Not only apparently various apparently non-talking lions, but “the cat” “was only one” I. Here, I think, we touch distinctly on the ‘science-fictional supposal’ “much more” of the Narnia stories, as we do with the Albatross and Lamb of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

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