C. S. Lewis begins this Narnian adventure with on of the best opening lines and character descriptions: “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it. His parents called him Eustace Clarence and his masters called him Scrubb. I can’t tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none. He didn’t call his Father and Mother “Father” and “Mother,” but Harold and Alberta. They were very up-to-date and advanced people. They were vegetarians, non-smokers and teetotalers and wore a special kind of underclothes.”
Throughout the story, Eustace struggles with believing in Narnia, even though his is in the world, because “he read the wrong kind of books.” In today’s Christian world, we often think that means that readers fill our heads with fantastical creatures and worlds rather than true, serious stories. However, this is exactly the opposite of what Lewis meant. Eustace struggled in Narnia mainly because he didn’t read those books of fantasy, legend, adventure, and myth.
Two scenes stick out in this excellent book, ones that are the stuff of excellent sermons and illustrations for our Christian life. The first is when Aslan “undragons” Eustace by tearing off that hideous skin with his claws. Eustace explains that “it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. They only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.” May we continually allow the Lion of Judah undragon us in our life-long process of sanctification.
The other scene is at the end of the tale when Aslan tells Lucy that she will no longer return to Narnia:
Lucy asks, “And how can we live[there back in our world], never meeting you?”
“But you shall meet me, dear one,” said Aslan.
“Are—are you there too, Sir?” said Edmund.
“I am,” said Aslan. “But there I have another name. You must learn to know me by that name. This was the very reason why you were brought to Narnia, that by knowing me here for a little, you may know me better there.”
Spending time with Aslan in Narnia when I read through the series often helps me to see another aspect of the “Aslan” in this world.
[sidenote: I didn’t want to spend time discussing the book versus the movie. I’ll quickly add that even though the movie changed the story considerable—even leaving our the dragon-to-boy transformation—I enjoyed the story.]