Friday, August 05, 2022

Susan and the "Aslan of Oxford"


What really happened to Susan? C. S. Lewis sometimes received letters asking about her fate. (JK Rowling and Philip Pullman also object to Lewis' story on this account.) He replied to one or two correspondents, "I think Susan's salvation is more of an adult story. Why don't you write it yourself?"

So I did, and wove that tale into my new book, The Case for Aslan: Evidence for Jesus in the Land of Narnia. Here's how one chapter, set at Wadham College in Oxford, begins:

Scene: A second-floor office in a functional stone building, with windows overlooking a grassy quadrangle and ornate spires. An elderly man is staring into space, books jumbled in lopsided piles on his desk. A drawing hangs near the door, of two men in old-fashioned wigs, sitting in a wooden boat with feathered wings, flying above the very quad visible out the window. One is smoking a pipe, while the other trails fishing tackle, at which peck a flock of ducks. A basket of apples rests on the cupboard below the drawing: a faint humming sound can be heard from the cupboard.
Knock, knock!
“Come in!”
A young lady of about twenty-five enters. She is stylishly-dressed and attractive, with long black hair and a skirt to match. She smiles, a bit crookedly, as if some weight were pressing on her cheeks.
The old man looks up, and his mouth drops open.
“My dear! So good to see you!”
“Sorry, professor... It’s been... a while.”
“Sit down, sit down! Tea? Coffee?”
“Tea, if it’s not too much trouble!”
“I have been praying for you.”
“Does it hit the ceiling and bounce back?”
The old man glances at his guest with furrowed brows. He nips several tea leaves and drops them in a ceramic mug decorated with a picture of a cat prowling among peonies.
“Here you are,” the professor sighs. The girl puts her hand on his shoulder.
“Sorry, Uncle Digs. But I do wonder. Am I a total lunatic? Did all that— really happen?”

“Crazy? No. But you do look tired. What have you been up to for the past, what is it, four years?”
“Searching for a door back in, I guess. But it seems the Emperor needed my parents beyond the bloody sea more than their daughter did!”
“I am so sorry. If there is anything I can do— anything at all.”
“Well, I wouldn’t mind some sugar. And a few answers, if you can spare them, Professor.
“Even if all those crazy memories were real— horseback rides with centaurs, visits from princes— Rabadash was a dish, you know, I would have loved to see him in donkey ears— the funny way Tumnus danced out of rooms after he scored a diplomatic victory— I can’t believe I’m saying these things out loud to another human being— how would I prove it? Or maybe there’s another way in. Maybe if I could find some clue that Aslan came to our world, I would feel a tad less... alone.
“So I started visiting the Bod.”
“To find... ?”
“If our Aslan is real. I mean, hang it all, half the colleges in this town— Jesus, Christ Church, Body of Christ... hang his name over their entryways.“

“Magdalen for a pert lady disciple.”
“Yes. And a bunch are named for male apostles, too. So I started reading Bultmann. Crossan. Vermes. Meier. Pagels. Ehrman. Piles of stuff, and everyone seemed to find a different Jesus, like the blind men and the elephant.”
“But who did you find?”

“If you don’t mind, professor, let me ask the questions. Sorry. I guess that means, I haven’t made up my mind. Except I think Empress Jadis runs this hell-hole of a planet.” She smiled faintly. “Especially London. London is the worst.”
“When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,” the professor thought to himself. Still, her sarcasm showed spirit. That had to be a good sign.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Aslan is Loose!


Good morning! You can now purchase The Case for Aslan: Evidence for Jesus in the Land of Narnia, on Amazon!

I think you'll enjoy this book! Everyone else has so far. (See reviews below.)

The Case for Aslan does not, as some guess, merely say the obvious, that "Aslan is Jesus." Instead, first I argue that Lewis' critics (Pullman, JK Rowling, John Haldane, even JRR Tolkien) are wrong: Lewis' imaginative worlds are beautiful, morally sound, and appeal to the mind that searches for truth.

More importantly, The Case for Aslan is a case for Jesus. In some ways, it is my broadest "Case for Christ" so far. But readers to date also agree that it makes also fun reading -- among others, Puddleglum and Pascal, Dr. Digory Kirke on a flight to "CHAZ International Airport" seated next to Philip Pullman, and (what Lewis sort of asked me to write) how Susan Pevensie finally found Jesus, a story which involves Bart Ehrman and Professor Kirke at his office in Wadham College.

Please get a copy on Amazon, and tell people what you think! It would be great to see some thoughtful reviews up. Criticize anything you think I get wrong! My only request is that you make the major theme of the book clear -- some people don't realize how serious, and deep, light-hearted fun of Lewis' sort can be. But warning: like the Wood Between the Worlds, the Case for Aslan can take you anywhere.

My first interview was a three-part series with Justin Brierley, to be posted later this month on his C. S. Lewis podcast. I would love to visit your church or field questions on your podcast over the coming months.

I also hope some people will like the book enough to want to pass extra copies around. Christmas is coming! And I think this book would work well for a book club or group study. I'll let people know when they can order it directly, with group discounts. As for Kindle, DeWard likes people to purchase physical copies, so Aslan can greet them at the coffee table, then make the electronic version available much later.

Here are the first two reviews, and the Amazon link.

"In this fun, breezy, kaleidoscopic book, apologist David Marshall puts Lewis into dialogue with everyone from Plato, Pascal, and Plantinga to the intelligent design theorists to the new atheists. While staying true to the spirit and wonder of Narnia, Marshall helps his readers to see the implications that Lewis’s Chronicles have for philosophy, theology, ethics, and science."

Louis Markos, Professor in English and Scholar in Residence, Houston Baptist University; author of On the Shoulders of Hobbits: The Road to Virtue with Tolkien and Lewis.

"A wonderful exploration of the deeper meaning of Narnia. Beautiful, imaginative, and deeply personal. Anyone interested in the relevance of C.S. Lewis for today will find this book worthwhile.”

—John G West, editor, The Magician’s Twin: C. S. Lewis on Science, Scientism, and Society