'Teachable Moments' in The Chronicles
By Andrea D. Hicks
Christians, we know the ultimate source of truth comes from the Bible.
However, God can work through authors in creative ways to bring the
Gospel to life. Like
Jesus, beloved author C. S. Lewis taught important spiritual lessons
using parables, allegories, and “stories within stories.” Based
on his works, letters, and a concordance, author Christin Ditchfield
takes the treasured Chronicles of Narnia and turns it into
an easy-to-follow family devotional. Complete with scripture references,
biblical principles and parallels, plus bonus “further thought” questions,
Ditchfield’s A Family Guide to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S.
Lewis’s The Chronicles
of Narnia, people of all ages can use this as a teaching tool and accompaniment
to story time.
In a recent interview, Ditchfield passionately spoke about how Lewis’s
CON shaped her life and how “teachable moments” in storytelling
led to this book-by-book lesson on the spiritual elements within the series.
ANDREA HICKS: You were exposed to The Chronicles of
Narnia early in your
childhood. How has reading that series influenced your life?
CHRISTIN DITCHFIELD: I was seven when I was given
my first copy of
The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. It had such a profound impact
on my life. I was immediately drawn into the adventures of these four children
who tumble through the door of a mysterious wardrobe, only to find
themselves in Narnia – an enchanted world of talking beasts, fauns,
dwarfs, giants, and other creatures. Having been raised in a devout Christian
home, I recognized that the great Lion, Aslan -- creator of Narnia --
was really Jesus. And that just made me love the story even more. Over the
next few years, I read each of the seven books in The Chronicles of Narnia more
than a dozen times, until they literally fell apart! The spiritual truths,
the powerful life lessons I learned from those stories, stayed with me throughout
my adolescence and into my adult life.
HICKS: You dedicated this book to your Auntie Diane and Auntie Jacquie.
You said reading The Chronicles of Narnia to Aunt Jacquie’s class led
you to write this book. Tell me about that experience.
DITCHFIELD: I taught in Christian schools for almost ten years. One
year, my aunt asked me to tutor a group of junior high boys at her school.
She suggested we read The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe together as one
of our literature activities. I really wondered if these kids would
enjoy the story as much as I had when I was a child. They were all into
video games and sports, and this was a book written 50 years ago. It’s
classic literature. But the kids absolutely loved it! I couldn't
believe their enthusiasm. We'd get to the end of the chapter and talk about
what happened in the story. I had their full attention. It was such a "teachable
Often, I found myself wanting to bring out one of the Biblical parallels
in the scene or chapter we'd just read. It sounded so familiar -- I knew there
was a verse about that in the Bible somewhere, but I couldn't always remember
where. Was it in the Old Testament or the New? Was it something Jesus had
said or the Apostle Paul? I knew if I took the time to hunt for the verse in
a concordance, I'd lose the kids' attention. I thought, ‘Wouldn't
it be great if there was a book that listed all of the relevant Scriptures
chapter by chapter, so that teachers and parents and grandparents could just
flip to the right page and have the material at their fingertips?’ Then
we could make the most of those wonderful, teachable moments that come about
so naturally during story time.
HICKS: Your book follows a very consistent format, with each chapter of
each book discussed using a Bible verse, several biblical parallels or principles,
and a question to encourage further thought. How did you come up with this
DITCHFIELD: Well, as I researched the book, I realized that the Biblical truths
I found in the stories seemed to fall into one of two major categories:
(1) biblical parallels -- characters and events that seemed to come right
out of the Bible, scenes that are nearly identical to those in Scripture
-- and (2) biblical principles -- found in scenes where we
can make a more general (Scriptural) observation or draw a life lesson from
the behavior of the characters. Then there were "lesser" points
-- interesting comparisons between characters or events in the story
and their Biblical counterparts. I turned these into "trivia" type questions
that encourage the reader to explore the Scripture to make the connection.
For me the goal in all of this was not to interpret literature and tell
readers: ‘This is what the author meant to say,’ but rather to
explore ways in which we can use a classic children's novel to communicate
Biblical truth. Let the stories that C. S. Lewis told whet the reader's
appetite -- give them a greater hunger for the Scriptures that inspired
HICKS: How did you gather research for A Family Guide
to Narnia: Biblical Truths in C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia?
DITCHFIELD: Whenever possible, I referred to C. S. Lewis's writings, speeches,
radio broadcasts, letters to friends, and to fans. While he preferred
not to use the term "allegory" to describe The Chronicles,
he openly acknowledged what he called "the story within the story." He
was very clear about a lot of things, especially the fact that the great
Lion Aslan is meant to be a representation of Christ. I also consulted
works by noted Lewis scholars. I studied their observations and
interpretations. And then I spent hours and hours with a concordance,
looking up the exact location of all those familiar phrases that come right
out of Scripture. If you know your Bible, you can't help but be reminded
of Scripture after Scripture as you read The Chronicles of
HICKS: How did you come up with a further thought for every chapter of every
DITCHFIELD: I thought about the major theme of the chapter, the Biblical
parallel or principle that seemed most profound. And I asked the question:
If that theme (resisting temptation, facing fear, showing mercy) really resonated
with me as a reader, where could I find more words of wisdom from
the Scripture that would help me in that area of my life? If I
wanted to do a more in-depth Bible study on this topic, where would I start?
That's where those verses came from.
HICKS: For those who wish to use this book for the family devotional time,
you recommend choosing several topics or chapters instead of reading cover
to cover. Why?
DITCHFIELD: There's just so much material. It could easily be overwhelming. If
you're a teacher or a home schooling parent or an adult wanting to do an
in-depth study, you'll probably appreciate having so much to work with. If
you really want to take your time, reading one chapter at a time, you can.
There's something there in every chapter. But most families find it hard
enough to find time for story time or family devotions in the first place.
You don't want to turn it into a long, drawn-out lecture. Just pick a few
points that seem the most interesting or relevant to you and go from there.
HICKS: If you were to use this as a study guide for yourself or your family,
what would you focus on?
DITCHFIELD: Well, for each book in the original series, I've written a two
page summary that gives a broad overview of the plot and the main
spiritual themes of that book. If you don't have time for anything else,
those two pages will give you the highlights -- the most important points.
Of course, in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, it's the story
of the Gospel: "Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his
life for his friends" (John 15:13) and "While we were yet
sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). The Magician's Nephew is
the story of Creation and the Fall of Man, The Horse And His Boy is all about
Divine Providence -- God at work behind the scenes. Prince Caspian teaches
us to stand fast and remain faithful in dark days. The Voyage Of The
Dawn Treader is a story of spiritual journeys, the process of growing and maturing
in our faith. The Silver Chair warns us to stay on guard and alert, so we
won't be deceived by the enemy of our souls. And The Last Battle is about
the end of days, the judgment and destruction of this world, and the far
more glorious paradise that awaits us all.
HICKS: In recent years, using movies or books to accompany Bible studies
has become popular. Some Christians are not happy with this trend,
thinking we should not focus on outside forces for biblical truth. What is
your response to that line of thought?
DITCHFIELD: I think I understand the concern. Our faith can't be based on
a novel or a movie or even a best-selling Bible study series by
a popular preacher. It's got to be based on the Scripture, the
Word of God itself. The Bible is the ultimate authority for us
as believers, and no other book is due such reverence and respect. At the
same time, I have to say that I'm personally very grateful for all the wonderful
books and Bible studies written by my brothers and sisters in Christ down
through the ages, books in which they share what they have learned
to help me grow in my own relationship with the Lord. I appreciate their
wisdom and insight. I'm glad I can learn from their experiences and observations.
God has given us some incredible resources through the Body of Christ.
HICKS: How did writing this book impact your spiritual walk?
DITCHFIELD: It was wonderful to reread the stories that had such an impact
on me as a child and allow God to speak to me through them all over again.
Spending hours and hours a day just looking up Scriptures was an incredibly
powerful experience. So many times I found myself weeping as the words leapt
off the page and spoke directly to my heart.
HICKS: What kind of feedback have you received?
DITCHFIELD: It's been so encouraging to hear how God has used this book
to help families jumpstart their devotions. Parents tell me after reading
the stories, they've prayed with their children to receive Christ. Youth
leaders tell me it's helped spark some great conversations with their teens.
Homeschoolers love it! Recently, a woman shared that reading through
the Family Guide with The Chronicles of Narnia really awakened in her
a hunger for more of God's Word. She decided to go out and get a One Year
Bible -- which she read in six months. It's changed her life! When I hear
stories like that, I'm just in awe -- so grateful to have a tiny part in
what God is doing.
HICKS: Who is your favorite Narnia character? Why?
DITCHFIELD: There are so many! It's hard to choose. I think we relate
to different characters at different times in our lives. But of course many
of us find ourselves really identifying with Lucy. She has the heart
of a disciple. She's not perfect; she makes mistakes. But she so wants to
know Aslan (Jesus) in a deeper way. More than anything, she wants to be
near him -- to fellowship with him -- to walk in obedience to him -- to be
pleasing to him. That's my heart cry, too.
HICKS: And finally, are you planning anything special with your family or
friends to celebrate the new film release of “The Lion, The Witch and
DITCHFIELD: Well, I've been doing a lot of radio and television interviews,
talking about the book and the new movie. It's such an exciting time
for Narnia fans. Over the next few weeks, I'll be speaking at schools, churches,
and bookstores around the country -- helping prepare believers to
make the most of this opportunity to share their faith with their family
and friends. Then I'll be back home in time for the premiere, where I'll
be attending a special showing with my family. I've been asked to share a
few words with the audience afterward. We're praying that God will touch
many hearts and lives.
Send Andrea your feedback.
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