19.1.11

"The Lion, The Mouse, and the Dawn Treader" by Carl McColman



Carl McColman, The Lion, the Mouse and the Dawn Treader: Spiritual Lessons from C.S. Lewis's Narnia. Paraclete Press, 2011.  144 pages. 

Provided for review.  #SpeakEasyNarnia  Special thanks for providing this in electronic format; so much easier that way. 


Sometimes the title, and subtitle, just says it all.  You don't even need to read the back of this book to know what it is about.  It is a book outlining some of the spiritual lessons we can learn form Narnia and, more specifically, from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  After all, C.S. Lewis himself wrote that The Voyage was about the spiritual life and journey of the Christian (though, it is not an allegory, a fact both Lewis and McColman are very clear about).  With this beginning, McColman explores just what lessons we can learn from this book, including such things as: the choice to walk with God is not always our own, mysticism does not make saints, everyone is at risk of slavery to sin, and much more (16 lessons in fact, summarized at the back of the book under the cheeky title "Everything I needed to know about Christian Spirituality I learned from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). 

The ever present risk of interpreting lessons from a narrative is of cutting off the feet of the story as we try to fit it into the procrustean bed of our lessons.  While we may draw lessons from a story, no story can be reduced to those lessons.  Likewise, stories are never quite as clear as we would like them to be about their lessons, and so whlie we are busy cutting of the stories feet we may also be tempted to stretch the arms and hands out just a little bit.  For the most part, McColman steers clear of such dangers, drawing lessons from the story while allowing the story with it's implicit mysteries to remain standing on its own.  The few occasions in which shape-changing efforts are brought into play are hardly worth mentioning, seeing as they are ancillary in nature.  

Overall, this book was quite well written and interesting. The lessons McColman teases from the narrative are true as well as thought provoking and McColman does his teasing in an admirably affable style.

Conclusion: 4 of 5 stars.  Conditionally recommended.  The conditions are that you read The Voyage first (I know, shocking advice) and that you are interested in spiritual lessons from C.S. Lewis (and who isn't, even if they do come through the circuitous route of an interpreter). 


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