Prince Caspian: Faithfulness in Dark Days
By Beth Bence Reinke
CBN.com Readers of the Narnia stories often notice passages or snippets of dialogue that sound familiar. That's because author C.S. Lewis crafted his tales from a Christian worldview, weaving in biblical principles and phrases from scripture. Because the stories capture our imaginations and draw us into the adventure, sometimes we miss these underlying spiritual elements. Fortunately for us, Christin Ditchfield has written A Family Guide to Prince Caspian. Just as Edmund's flashlight uncovers long-forgotten treasures in the castle cellar, Ditchfield's book illuminates spiritual truths that we can use in everyday life.
In a recent interview, Ditchfield shared her insights about Prince Caspian, her new book, and faithfulness during dark times.
BETH BENCE REINKE: How does your book aid a newcomer to the Chronicles of Narnia stories, especially someone who is unfamiliar with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe?
CHRISTIN DITCHFIELD: I wrote A Family Guide to Prince Caspian especially for folks who are new to Narnia – as well as longtime Lewis fans. The chapters at the beginning introduce you to C.S. Lewis and The Chronicles of Narnia. There’s a list of main characters – a kind of “who’s who” – and a summary of the plot of Prince Caspian, along with a chapter on the major spiritual themes called “The Story Within the Story.”
REINKE: Should families read your book before or after seeing the movie? Why?
DITCHFIELD: Either way! You could read Prince Caspian and the Family Guide side-by-side together as a family, before you go to the movie. The Family Guide will lead you chapter-by-chapter through the life lessons and spiritual truths in Lewis’s story. Then you could go to the movie and see how it compares to the original. If you’re going to see the movie first, it still might be a good idea to go ahead review those key spiritual principles, the basic Biblical truths that are “The Story Within the Story” so that you can talk about them on your way home from the movie. Then you can dig in deeper as you go chapter-by-chapter through the book itself.
REINKE: You have said that Prince Caspian teaches us to stand fast and remain faithful in dark days. Give several examples of this theme from the story.
DITCHFIELD: Well when Prince Caspian begins, over a thousand years have passed since King Peter and King Edmund and Queen Susan and Queen Lucy ruled from the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Since then, a wicked race of men has conquered the land, silenced the rivers and trees, and killed off the Talking Beasts and Dwarves and Fauns and Giants. A tiny remnant remain in hiding, holding on to the faintest hope that somehow Narnia will be delivered from the oppression of the Telmarines -- set free and restored to its former glory. But some creatures have grown bitter with centuries of suffering. They begin to doubt that Aslan, Narnia’s creator and savior, still exists – if he ever did – or that he cares about their plight. Skeptics say the old stories are nothing more than myths or fairy tales. But there are some who still believe, some who insist that the stories are true – that Aslan will come again and Narnia will see a new day.
We can relate to that, can’t we? Hebrews 11:1 tells us “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” In our world today we see that often the wicked flourish, and the righteous are oppressed. Scoffers and skeptics call our faith a fairy tale. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” (John 20:29) Just as the hope and faith and perseverance of the Talking Beasts of Narnia is rewarded, ours will be, too. Jesus will come again, in power and glory! His victory is sure… we just have to hang in there and fight the good fight until He gets here.
REINKE: Prince Caspian is the rightful king, yet he flees for his life and hides in a cave, just like a young man from the Old Testament. Talk about the similarities and differences between Prince Caspian and King David.
DITCHFIELD: That’s a great observation. In some ways, Caspian is a lot like David – particularly in his heart to do what is right regardless of how vast the armies arrayed against him! He’s humble – and as we see in the next adventure (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)—quick to repent when he’s gone wrong. Like David, Caspian has a teachable spirit. All of these are qualities that Aslan commends him for.
REINKE: Talk about how readers can benefit from the resources in the last few chapters of your book.
DITCHFIELD: Just for fun, I’ve included some ideas for “Continuing the Adventure” – recipes and craft ideas based on things that take place in the story, as well as a list of websites and other resources for kids who might need help with book reports! There are also brief summaries of the other six books in The Chronicles to whet your appetite for more!
REINKE: How did your experience as a teacher help you research and write this book?
DITCHFIELD: Actually all of the books I’ve written about Narnia – particularly A Family Guide to Narnia (featuring all 7 books) and the individual Guides for The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and Prince Caspian – came directly out of my experiences as a Christian school teacher! Years ago, I was reading Lewis’s books to my students and watching them become so enthralled with the stories. At the end of every chapter, we would recap – make sure everybody understood what happened, talk a little about the plot and the characters. These were such “teachable moments.” There were so many times when I found myself wanting to point out a powerful Biblical truth. “Did you see how such-and-such was just like so-and-so in the Bible?” But I couldn’t always think of the exact story or Biblical reference. I knew that one line was a paraphrase of Scripture, but I couldn’t remember which one. Was it Jesus who said it or Paul? I just didn’t have time to stop everything and hunt for it in a concordance. Wouldn’t it be great if there was a list of all the Scriptures, chapter-by-chapter, so you could just flip through and find them in a snap? That’s when God gave me the vision for these books, and it’s been so exciting to see Him bring it to pass.
REINKE: Many Christians avoid the Harry Potter books and movies. How do the "magical" elements in the Narnia stories differ from Harry Potter's magic?
DITCHFIELD: Probably the most obvious difference is that Harry Potter’s magic is based on real-world occultism – people who practice witchcraft and the occult study the same subjects and read some of the same books Harry does! J.K. Rowling says she went to great lengths to make Harry’s brand of witchcraft authentic. There is fairy tale magic and there are imaginative, even mythological creatures in Lewis’s stories. However, just as in the Scriptures, witchcraft in Narnia is always evil and occult practices are always rebuked. For instance, in Prince Caspian, there is a scene where evil characters suggest conducting a séance to bring the White Witch back from the dead. All those who love Aslan (Jesus) are outraged and fight to the death to prevent it from taking place.
REINKE: How can Christians use a movie like Prince Caspian as a witnessing tool to draw others to Christ?
DITCHFIELD: A lot of Christian families are inviting unsaved friends and neighbors to go to the movie with them. Churches are taking large groups to the theater and then following up with pizza and a presentation of the gospel. On a personal, individual level, I think it’s as simple as sharing with friends what the story means to you – why certain scenes really resonated with you, how you could relate to what the characters were going through. “When Aslan said that, it reminded me of the words of Jesus….”
REINKE: Can you share an anecdote or two about how your book has affected readers?
DITCHFIELD: My first Narnia book came out in 2003, a couple years before the latest movie version of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Since then I’ve had the chance to hear from a lot of teachers and parents and grandparents who’ve really found the books helpful to them – and that’s so great!
I think one of my favorite stories was shared with me by a young woman who came to one of my book-signings. She told me that a year before, she had accidentally wandered into a Christian bookstore not knowing what it was. (Her son was drawn to all the cool toys in the window display!) As she looked around, she happened to see A Family Guide to Narnia – and she remembered reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a child. It was something familiar. So she decided to get a copy. She’d gone to church a few times when she was little, but she didn’t know much about the Bible or the Christian faith. She was intrigued to learn how the Narnia stories were all connected to the Scriptures. A few weeks later, she went back to the bookstore to get a Bible, so she could look up the Scriptures for herself and really study them. Now she and her whole family attend a Bible-believing church! What a wonderful testimony of how God can use a fairy tale – and a guide to that fairy tale -- to draw someone to the Greatest Story Ever Told.
Watch for more from CBN.com's Prince Caspian special feature
Beth Bence Reinke is a freelance writer and registered dietitian. She is the author of numerous magazine articles for adults and children. Beth and her husband have been CBN partners since 1998. Visit her at http://www.bethbencereinke.com
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