I just came across a lovely article by Matt Mikalatos that’s part of series he’s writing on the children’s series of Narnia books. The books were written by C.S. Lewis back in the middle of the last century. They were written at roughly the same time as Lewis was working on his popular presentation of Christianity: “Mere Christianity” and there are some obvious connections between Lewis work on Christianity and his Narnia books.
I remember the moment I “broke the code” and saw that much of the Narnia narrative was an allegorical presentation of the Church and New Testament’s account of Jesus. (I was on my paper route and putting a newspaper into a mailbox when I suddenly realized that Aslan was an allegory of Jesus. Stopped me dead on my bike for a bit that one did…)
At any rate, Mikalatos finds that Lewis has included all seven of the traditional Anglican sacraments and sacramental rites in the third book of the Narnia series:
Did you ever wish that Father Christmas would show up in the middle of an adventure and give you the exact gifts you needed for the road ahead, just like he did in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? That pretty much exactly aligns with the Christian concept of the sacraments—there are seven sacraments in the teaching of the Anglican church (the church C.S. Lewis attended), and all seven appear in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.
Lewis told us that The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is about spiritual journeys. At the core, it’s a book about how human beings grow. How do we become better people? There are places where Aslan shows up and helps the characters to progress (we’ll look at these in two weeks), and there are gifts that Aslan has given us that help along the way, too.
Mikalatos goes on to list how each of the sacraments appears in the story of the Dawn Treader. Two were so obvious (baptism and holy communion) that I remember noting the parallels back when I still doing my roughly annual re-reading of the Narnia books in High School.
Go follow the link and see how many you recognize. (I think it’s clear that Mikalatos is reaching pretty hard on the last of the rites… but you hate to let a good organizing principle flounder on the rocks if you can avoid it. Grin.)