I’ve been a Friend of Narnia since the tender age of eight, when Mrs. Parry read The Lion The Witch & The Wardrobe to our 3rd Grade class. I was almost instantly enraptured with tales of snowy landscapes, fantasy worlds, epic battles between good and evil, and a talking lion of intriguing depth. Afterward I devoured all the Chronicles of Narnia as soon as I could get my hands on them, never for once recognizing any of the religious allegory contained therein. I was eight, after all. What the heck could I know?
I reread the Chronicles of Narnia for the first time in ages about 15 years ago, and became transfixed with not only C. S. Lewis’s vivid fairy-tale landscape, but with the moral and spiritual messages he conveyed through simple, congenial storytelling. I am not a Christian, but I don’t think you have to be one to find a deep spiritual truth in his works.
Dr. Markos’s 12 lecture series on The Life and Writings of C.S. Lewis can get a little heavy-handed, a little proselytizing, a little too breathlessly over-excitable, and more than a little too “in awe” of the man and his works, but it is an unapologetic celebration of and examination into the core of Lewis’s beliefs, his views on Love, Joy, Pain, God, Christ, and the elevation/celebration of humanity as infinite cosmic potential through supernatural love and a strongly-typed moral code through the Divine. I found much to enjoy in his lectures, not just as a Friend of Narnia but as a humble seeker of knowledge, ideas, and that continuous voyage of moral and spiritual discovery.
The series is basically a primer into Lewis; it moves so quickly, you barely have time to register what you’ve been learning. You could probably do an entire lecture series on Narnia alone, or perhaps even on Lewis’s correspondences. The course suffers a bit for it, but nonetheless remains highly worthwhile.