‘Chronicles of Narnia’-themed, Lenten lecture series to begin
Ashton Weber | Tuesday, March 5, 2019
For many Catholics and Christians, the final day before Lent is a time to eat as much food as possible in preparation for the fasting of Ash Wednesday. For the McGrath Institute for Church Life, however, it is the time to kick off a new lecture series, “‘Chronicles of Narnia’: A Spiritual Journey from Lent to Easter.”
The first two lectures will be delivered Tuesday from 6 p.m. to 8:15 p.m. in the Eck Visitors Center Auditorium. A one-credit course is being taught concurrently in order to offer students a chance to read C.S. Lewis’ “Chronicles of Narnia” and engage in deeper conversations about the themes of the novels. Although the course is not open to the general public, everyone is permitted to attend the lectures and join the spiritual journey.
Theology professor Leonard DeLorenzo — who is teaching the corresponding course — said the lecture series will provide an opportunity for people to connect and reflect.
“Our idea here was to allow people to get together and take something of a literary pilgrimage during the liturgical season [of Lent],” he said. “People are invited to read along, and we bring in speakers who can draw out the theological themes [and offer] some spiritual reflection on the works that we are reading.”
Theology professor David Fagerberg will be delivering the first lecture in the series, which will offer an overview of the “Chronicles,” and how Lewis came to write them. Following Fagerberg’s talk, DeLorenzo will present the second lecture focusing on the “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,” the first novel in the series.
DeLorenzo said he wants his lecture to convey the importance of being truly engaged in the story.
“I have read the ‘Chronicles of Narnia’ many times … but it was in the experience of reading these stories to my 5-year-old that I came to a deeper appreciation of the real treasure here, which is to be actually engaged in the story,” he said.
He explained the goal of reading the texts should not be analysis, but rather immersion.
“[You should] allow yourself to be drawn in and surprised. Children do that most naturally. … They don’t ask about the author’s intention [like] we adults do,” DeLorenzo said. “For us adults, there’s something really refreshing [about] allowing ourselves to be led by children into a story like this. [My lecture] is about engaging this particular story, ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe,’ in that [childlike] way.”
Fagerberg echoed the importance of reading a story that was intended for children as an adult.
“I was pulling material together, and Lewis says in one place that, ‘[The ‘Chronicles’] would be a bad story if it was only read by children, and a bad story if it was not read more than once,’ so I think that we are trying to bring people back to reading the ‘Chronicles’ again,” he said.
Fagerberg said the importance of reading these stories during the Lenten season — as the Christlike qualities of the story’s hero, Aslan — can offer a deeper reflection on one’s image of God.
“There is an exchange between Aslan and Lucy in the second chronicle … and he says, ‘Each year you grow older, you will find me bigger,’” he said. “Aslan is Christ, and as you grow older, you find Christ bigger. Most of us are stuck with a very small and childish picture of God … and that’s what [we] want to talk about … and give an opportunity to do: to encounter face-to-face the mystery of Aslan.”
Recorded versions of the lectures will be available online. A full schedule of the lecture series is also available on the McGrath Institute’s website.