Planet Narnia? By Jove!

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My friend Justin Taylor, over at a great blog called Between Two Worlds, recently posted this video about C.S. Lewis, and I thought you guys might find it as interesting as I did.

It may be because I’m prone to believe anything if it’s said in a suave British accent, but I really think there may be something to this. Lewis was a man of formidable intellect and education, so it wouldn’t be a huge surprise to find that he was following a planetary mythology with the Narnia books. If it’s true, there’s something wonderfully boyish about the fact that he kept this undergirding a happy secret, something for his own nerdy satisfaction. In a MUCH less intelligent/awesome way I’ve enjoyed peppering my lyrics and stories over the years with elusive references, internal rhymes, and/or meanings that are only noticed and appreciated by a few people, if any at all. I don’t mind being the only guy who knows.

I haven’t read the book, but this little clip makes me want to. Kind of. I wonder if it would be better not to look behind the curtain?

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


27 Comments

  1. Canaan Bound

    Agreed! I have a weakness for British accents, and an even greater weakness for hidden things. I, too, applaud Lewis in his keeping this planetary symbolism (if it is, indeed, true) a “happy secret.”

    Don’t we all have a bit of that boyishness in us?

    The Maker does…and though his glory is revealed in mighty ways, there is a deepness in Him we simply cannot fathom. Still, I’m drawn to it…the mystery.

  2. Terry K

    The book is fantastic! (one of the top books I read in 2009( A bit scholarly but so fascinating. Proves Lewis’s genius. I’ve been waiting for the documentary for over a year now. There’s a great podcast interview with Ward on The Kindlings Muse from a while ago.

  3. Brian

    The book is excellent. However, because it is written in such a scholarly tone, and aimed at a particular idea, I found that it did not negatively affect my sense of wonder in reading these books at all. So, enjoy!

  4. Jessie Rae

    Confession #1: I also have a weakness for British accents.

    Confession#2: I think I’m turning into one of those nerds you all keep mentioning.

    Interesting video, AP! Thanks for sharing!

  5. codyvilla

    Since we’re “outing” Lewis’ undergirding, how about revealing one small hidden lyric that most of us probably haven’t caught?

  6. marchon2884

    I read this book cover to cover for an assignment on fantasy literature and moral formation in one of my seminary classes. It is FANTASTIC. You can tell that Ward has a deep love for Lewis’ work and this reverence means that he doesn’t dissect Lewis and leave him in pieces (as some literary critics do), but rather takes a good x-ray of the Chronicles to show us the skeleton of the work so that we can better see how it moves and works. A great book.

  7. Peter B

    Give! Give!

    (but not in a leech-sating way)

    One of the cool things about The Far Country was the sheer number of Lewis/Tolkien callouts sprinkled throughout the lyrics. Beyond that, though, I’d have to stretch to remember anything from other albums; now the curiosity is back.

  8. Chris Yokel

    Right now I’m reading Lewis’ “The Discarded Image,” so seeing the whole medieval planetary model reflected in Narnia would make total sense given his huge amount of knowledge regarding cosmic mythology.

  9. Scott Calhoun

    Planet Narnia is a great read, as others have mentioned. I found “looking behind the curtain” to be very rewarding. Reading “The Discarded Image” and “The Allegory of Love” gives insight into what attracted Lewis the most about the Medieval mindset. I had the privilege of hearing the author, Michael Ward, flesh out his ideas for this book at two separate Lewis conferences, going back to 1998 at Wheaton. Which is also where those nice library shots in the doco are from. The Wade Center is a superb place to drink deep from Lewis and The Inklings.

    I just got word today that my proposal was accepted for “C. S. Lewis, His Friends and Associates: Questions of Identity” next June at Lille Catholic University, France. Hope to bump into Michael there again.

  10. Jaclyn

    How cool! I’ll have to watch this with my brother. He’s the mythology expert in the family.

  11. Manders

    One of the very few scholarly tomes that has made my imagination light up. Ward is also an Anglican rector, I think, and I can tell he loves Jesus as well as Lewis.

  12. Tony Heringer

    I heard this guy on Mars Hill Audio Journal volume 90 a while back. What jumped out at me in that interview was his process of discovery of the theme.

    He had been working 18 months on his PHD at Cambridge (tentatively entitled “C.S. Lewis and the Word: Christ, Scripture and Language”) when, as he notes, on 2003/2/6 at 11:30PM in Ridley Hall on the campus of Cambridge he “stumbled across this theme.” Apparently he was reading two books at once comparing the poem Lewis wrote called “The Planets” to “The Discarded Image.” He alludes to this in the video–coming across the passage “winter past and guilt forgiven.”

    He also makes a point that he had looked for patterns before stating he had read Lewis for 30 years and studied the books in depth for 10 years.

    I smiled at the thought of Lewis taking Tolkien’s grief about his mash-up mythology and all the while knowing that nothing could be further from the truth. It’s pure speculation on Ward’s part but its about the best educated guess I’ve ever seen.

    Ken Meyers did an extended conversation with Ward. I’m sure its worth checking and I may do so at some point:

    http://www.marshillaudio.org/catalog/conversa.asp#con25

  13. Canaan Bound

    AP’s novels are peppered with secrets. Here are a few I’ve discovered…

    Glipwood Township – Glipwood Township Orchestra
    Anklejelly Manor – Anklejelly Jones
    Waterbrook Press – Brookwater Press

  14. Michael Ward

    Thanks, chaps, for discussing ‘Planet Narnia’: I’m delighted to hear so many of you liked it; it was certainly the greatest pleasure to write. You might be interested to know that Tyndale have commissioned a shorter version for an audience who want the basic idea but not all the detailed argumentation. It’ll be published in November, with the same title as the BBC documentary. More info here: http://mediacenter.tyndale.com/1_products/details.asp?isbn=978-1-4143-3965-8

    “The heavens are telling the glory of God.” Psalm 19 – Lewis’s favourite psalm.

    If only we had ears more attuned to hear their words.

  15. Tony Heringer

    This is what I love about the Rabbit Room. Thanks for the post Michael. You even type with a British accent 🙂 You definitely have a winsome way of sharing your heart about Lewis and his work.

    Is the BBC documentary avaialbe? I would love to read the book, but unlike you, I’m single book reader and a slow one at that. 🙂

    Psalm 19 is fitting Psalm for Lewis and one of my favorites too.

    Cheers!

  16. Sarah

    Thank goodness I got “Planet Narnia” for Christmas. It’s in my “to read” stack, and will now be moved to the top.

    Discovering things like this just makes me happy. Also makes me want to be a better student of literature. Once you start realizing how much great authors are shaped by the myths and legends and books before them, you realize being a good reader makes for a good writer.

    I remember being similarily delighted when I read a biography of Tolkien that showed how the whole scene in “The Two Towers” where Gandalf confronts Theoden in the Golden Hall is in the same form as a similar scene in Beowulf. Fascinating!

  17. Aaron

    At about 1:01 I was very skeptical. At about 5:38 I was totally in. This reminds me of John Granger’s writings on alchemy in Harry Potter. A lot of fun to think about.

  18. Travis Prinzi

    Aaron, it’s a very good parallel – John Granger’s work on literary alchemy in Potter. Alchemy is Rowling’s kappa element, though she’s a lot more obvious about it than Lewis (what with the first book having Philosopher’s Stone in the title and all).

  19. Adam in Flanders

    I echo the comments about initial scepticism melting away. I particularly like the point about a simple story wrapped up in ever more intracate layers of imagery – so much like the truth of the gospel. It can start with “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so”, but then as we walk with Christ, we see so many beautiful things about his love for us in other people and in the world around us. I think AP’s songs highlight this, nine more so than Invisible God. I am always struck by the beauty of the clouds I see from an airplane, as if God has put on this display of heavenly art just for my benefit. Such is his love for us that He would do this, yet the story is simple – God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

  20. Phil Spencer-Harris

    Hey Andrew. What a wonderful tool this interweb-thingy is. I am writing to you from New Zealand. All because I have seen a Mannix Guitar for sale on a New Zealand Auction website and I’ve never heard of them. The one for sale is a dreadnought cutaway with what looks to be a hard back, similar material to an Ovation with a beautiful solid looking light timber front. The photos don’t show much else.. Do you know any more about these guitars or do you know if Ben Mannix has a website? Any help you may have would be appreciated. Anything you want to know about New Zealand, just ask me. Cheers. Phil.

  21. Tom Murphy

    Good Evening Andrew, I think a major driving factor in the work of C.S. Lewis and the rest of the Inklings as I study them is that they did their writing in community – sharpening each other and goading one another on to literary genius. I’ve recently posted an idea to resurrect this idea calling them “Next Gen Inkling” groups that would meet in local “Rabbit Rooms”. Would love your feedback on the below…

    http://hutchmoot.freeforums.org/next-gen-inklings-t10.html
    http://www.biblicalcounselingthroughsong.org/?p=48

  22. Paedra

    I’ve read “The Narnia Code” and I absolutely fell in love. i have a weakness for anything C.S. Lewis related, and I’m taking mythology this year in school, which is helping me to understand it all a little better.

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