As I’ve read the Narniad over the years, I have often thought that a book needed to be written highlighting the richest and most poignant lessons that Lewis intended to be learned in Narnia. Joe Rigney’s “Live Like a Narnian” is that book. This was an incredibly enjoyable read for any friend of Narnia (or Archenland). However, rumor has it that the Calormenes don’t particularly like this book.
Rigney has masterfully chosen some of the most precious parts and themes in the Chronicles and then layers in other writings by Lewis to bring additional insight into what error, vice, or flawed logic Lewis was aiming to address. Obviously this is not an exhaustive book, and I hereby assert that Mr. Rigney ought to pen a second volume.
Aslan hints in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader that the reason the children were brought to Narnia was that by knowing him there, they might know him better in our world (although of course he has a different name in our world). This is Lewis’ more explicit moments of tying Aslan to being a Christ-figure. I, along with many others, have been shaped by the lessons I learned upon the fresh and vibrant soil of Dancing Lawn, Beaversdam, the Stone Table and the Eastern Seas. Rigney has helpfully pointed out how Narnia is not an escape from reality, but rather it is brimful of lessons to be learned, and a manner of life that, as Christians, we ought to live. Chivalry, boldness, humility, enduring hardness, worship, obedience, masculine and feminine virtues all make an appearance in Narnia, and Live Like a Narnian aims to be a friendly reminder that to be a true King or Queen of Narnia, you must not forget Aslan’s signs.
I especially enjoyed Rigney’s pointed discussion in Chapter 3 on Edmund, and how our present actions (and what we are worshipping) are shaping us into what we will be. We must not take the object of our worship lightly.
I was moved to tears in several chapters, being reminded of the hardship that many of the Narnian heroes face, and yet despite the difficulties, persevere, resting all the while between the Lion’s paws. In Chapter 10 (about Shasta in The Horse and His Boy), I found a very timely reminder for me; in it Rigney quotes the Chronicle: “If you do one good deed your reward is usually to be set to do another and harder and better one.” What a great reminder.
And really that is exactly what this book is…a helpful reminder to grip those lessons learned in Narnia. Don’t forget, don’t let the thick air of the shadowlands cloud your thinking and cause you to forget the lessons learned in Aslan’s country. I highly recommend Live Like a Narnia. Obviously, you should read the seven stories first…but then, this would be a helpful companion and guide. I give this book a Reepicheep salute, and commend Rigney for a job well done, and for making this a read that was really a pleasure to read (and not just because it was full of Lewis); Rigney’s commentary was truly as insightful, pastoral, and good-humored as one would expect a descendant of King Lune to be.
You may also like my review of: Planet Narnia by Michael Ward