"Always winter and never Christmas"

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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"Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby 220chrisTian » Jan 11, 2010 3:02 pm

I was part of a mod Bible study this weekend. We looked at Romans 8:18-25 and compared it to a few scenes in LWW. :)

Verse 18 talks about how creation/nature is waiting for us to be revealed as sons and daughters of God. Creation is waiting for the resurrection and rapture of the saints! I never read it this way before. So I thought the winter analogy in LWW was apt. When Aslan arrives, creation responds. In that book, we see not just the redemption of Edmund, or even of all Narnia [talking creatures], but of creation itself. Winter to spring = death to life, i.e. resurrection.

So, what aspects of creation/nature do you see in the Chronicles? What are their spiritual implications for plot, character, theme, etc? Discuss away! :)
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Jan 16, 2010 8:01 am

Well, nature seems to respond to Aslan. In PC, when Aslan comes even the dumb animals come to him. They sense his greatness although they cannot think and speak. Aslan is also able to wake the sleeping trees in PC. In MN, Aslan wakes / calls creatures (dwarfs, fauns, etc.). That seems to show that Aslan is in charge of creation.
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Jan 16, 2010 7:36 pm

Pattertwig: thanks for responding! You're my first catch! :ymhug: I love your examples, esp. the one from PC. I remember that scene so well. :)

You say "nature seems to respond to Aslan," who in your examples appears to be "in charge of creation." So for these novels and scenes, what's the spiritual point? Why does it matter that Aslan's in charge, that nature responds to him? In PC, for example, why does he wake up the sleeping trees? What's the purpose? What are the spiritual implications of Aslan's doing so? ;)
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby Varnafinde » Jan 17, 2010 4:12 pm

It's part of bringing Narnia back to what it should be.
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Jan 17, 2010 7:29 pm

"Bringing Narnia back to what it should be" ... So, Varnafinde, what was it like before, i.e. what it should be? And how did it become corrupt? How is all this portrayed in the Narnian landscape? :)
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby Aravis Narnia » Jan 18, 2010 6:50 am

There is definitely a big lesson that one has to take care of nature and the environment. That all the creatures need to be respected. This is especially stated in Prince Caspian, and later in The Last Battle. Giving the trees spirits and thus personalities, as well as having some of the animals talk, certainly presents additional reasons to treat nature with respect and kindness.
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby Varnafinde » Jan 18, 2010 4:49 pm

220chrisTian wrote:"Bringing Narnia back to what it should be" ... So, Varnafinde, what was it like before, i.e. what it should be? And how did it become corrupt? How is all this portrayed in the Narnian landscape? :)


(All other quotes from Prince Caspian)

I suppose the Golden Age, when the White Witch had been conquered and the Pevensie children were ruling, could be our pattern of what Narnia should be (not going as far back as to the time of the Tree of Protection, because we know very little about that period).

When everything was quite different. When all the animals could talk, and there were nice people who lived in the streams and the trees.

... were made Kings and Queens of Narnia, and their names were Peter and Susan and Edmund and Lucy. And so they reigned for ever so long and everyone had a lovely time, and it was all because of Aslan -"


All because of Aslan. I believe that as long as they trusted in him, he would turn up to set things right. But at some point, long after the Pevensies had gone back to our world, Narnia ended up in some disorder which is only mentioned and not given any details about - but I guess that some of the connection to Aslan was being lost. In this state the land was weakened and was conquered by the Telmarines.

We don't know exactly what had corrupted the land in the first place, but we know what the conquering Telmarines did to corrupt it further.

... the country of Aslan, the country of the Waking Trees and Visible Naiads, of Fauns and Satyrs, of Dwarfs and Giants, of the gods and the Centaurs, of Talking Beasts. It was against these that the first Caspian fought. It is you Telmarines who silenced the beasts and the trees and the fountains, and who killed and drove away the Dwarfs and Fauns, and are now trying to cover up even the memory of them.


And even the Telmarines know that their real feud is with Aslan.

Your Kings are in deadly fear of the sea because they can never quite forget that in all stories Aslan comes from over the sea. They don't want to go near it and they don't want anyone else to go near it. So they have let great woods grow up to cut their people off from the coast. But because they have quarrelled with the trees they are afraid of the woods. And because they are afraid of the woods they imagine that they are full of ghosts. And the Kings and great men, hating both the sea and the wood, partly believe these stories, and partly encourage them. They feel safer if no one in Narnia dares to go down to the coast and look out to sea towards Aslan's land and the morning and the eastern end of the world.


As a consequence of their feud with Aslan, they have quarrelled with Nature, and Nature doesn't forget it easily.

And now they entered a dark and seemingly endless pine forest, and all the stories Caspian had ever heard of trees being unfriendly to Man crowded into his mind. He remembered that he was, after all, a Telmarine, one of the race who cut down trees wherever they could and were at war with all wild things; and though he himself might be unlike other Telmarines, the trees could not be expected to know this.

Nor did they. The wind became a tempest, the woods roared and creaked all round them. There came a crash. A tree fell right across the road just behind him.


But the trees are silenced, and when the Pevensies return, Lucy tries to wake them up.

"Oh, Trees, Trees, Trees," said Lucy (though she had not been intending to speak at all). "Oh, Trees, wake, wake, wake. Don't you remember it? Don't you remember me? Dryads and Hamadryads, come out, come to me."

Though there was not a breath of wind they all stirred about her. The rustling noise of the leaves was almost like words. The nightingale stopped singing as if to listen to it.

Lucy felt that at any moment she would begin to understand what the trees were trying to say. But the moment did not come. The rustling died away. The nightingale resumed its song. Even in the moonlight the wood looked more ordinary again. Yet Lucy had the feeling (as you sometimes have when you are trying to remember a name or a date and almost get it, but it vanishes before you really do) that she had just missed something: as if she had spoken to the trees a split second too soon or a split second too late, or used all the right words except one, or put in one word that was just wrong.


"used all the right words except one, or put in one word that was just wrong" - yes, I think that was it. I have oftens wondered whether she would have been able to wake the trees that night if she hadn't challenged them to remember her, but to remember Aslan instead.

When Aslan roars to call them, they wake up.

It looked first like a black mist creeping on the ground, then like the stormy waves of a black sea rising higher and higher as it came on, and then, at last, like what it was woods on the move. All the trees of the world appeared to be rushing towards Aslan. But as they drew nearer they looked less like trees; and when the whole crowd, bowing and curtsying and waving thin long arms to Aslan, were all around Lucy, she saw that it was a crowd of human shapes. Pale birch-girls were tossing their heads, willowwomen pushed back their hair from their brooding faces to gaze on Aslan, the queenly beeches stood still and adored him, shaggy oak-men, lean and melancholy elms, shockheaded hollies (dark themselves, but their wives all bright with berries) and gay rowans, all bowed and rose again, shouting, "Aslan, Aslan!" in their various husky or creaking or wave-like voices.


Lewis seems to speak of a connection between the Creator and his creation. I don't know whether it's seen in the landscape at large, but we see it clearly with the trees and the Dryads (and the rivers and the Naiads).

The connection had been broken, but at the end of Prince Caspian, it has been restored.

(End of essay ;) )
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Re: Spiritual implications of nature in Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Jan 18, 2010 6:56 pm

Varnafinde ... brilliant! :D I don't have a copy of the books with me, so I frequently have to go by memory [or check out a book and re-read it ;) ]. Even then, I don't think I could have read PC the way you did just now. :ymblushing: I really loved these parts:
As a consequence of their feud with Aslan, they have quarrelled with Nature, and Nature doesn't forget it easily. ...

"used all the right words except one, or put in one word that was just wrong" - yes, I think that was it. I have oftens wondered whether she would have been able to wake the trees that night if she hadn't challenged them to remember her, but to remember Aslan instead.

When Aslan roars to call them, they wake up. ...

Lewis seems to speak of a connection between the Creator and his creation. ... The connection had been broken, but at the end of Prince Caspian, it has been restored.

I see something similar in LWW but it isn't trees per se, is it? It's the landscape itself. "Always winter and never Christmas" ... What does this really mean for Narnia--talking animals and trees, nature [etc]--and its relationship with Aslan? How is the broken connection restored?
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 01, 2010 1:11 pm

I changed the topic of this thread hoping to get more responses... :p

Anyway, why do Tumnus and Lucy say "always winter and never Christmas" in LWW? Why does Lewis put those words in their mouths, or in the book itself? What's the spiritual connection between winter and Christmas? Or the spiritual meaning behind the change from winter to spring? What role does nature play in LWW?

Discuss away! :)
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby daughter of the King » Feb 01, 2010 2:19 pm

220chrisTian wrote:Anyway, why do Tumnus and Lucy say "always winter and never Christmas" in LWW? Why does Lewis put those words in their mouths, or in the book itself? What's the spiritual connection between winter and Christmas? Or the spiritual meaning behind the change from winter to spring? What role does nature play in LWW?

Well, winter is emotionally cold I suppose. Nature is dead, depression is strong, and it can be easy to think that it will never end(especially if you live up north). Christmas is a hopeful time. And you can't really have Christmas without Christ, take Him out and all you have is mass. Translating that to Narnia, the hundred year winter froze not only the landscape, but also the Narnians themselves in a way. They lived without hope until a little girl who liked fur coats wandered into a wardrobe. But even then, it was not the Pevensies who really brought hope to the Narnians, it was Aslan returning, and with him the spring. Spring is a time of renewal, a time of growth. Narnia was able to live and grow again after spring came.
The significance of "always winter, never Christmas" is that Christmas is the shining light in the dark winter figuratively speaking. By making it always winter, the White Witch froze Narnia at it darkest time of the year. By never having Christmas, she didn't allow hope to shine through.
Sorry, I kind of rambled around a bit. I hope you can understand what I'm getting at.
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 02, 2010 2:40 pm

I understand, daughter. And no, you didn't ramble. :ymhug: I especially liked this part:
Christmas is a hopeful time. And you can't really have Christmas without Christ, take Him out and all you have is mass. Translating that to Narnia, the hundred year winter froze not only the landscape, but also the Narnians themselves in a way. . . .The significance of "always winter, never Christmas" is that Christmas is the shining light in the dark winter figuratively speaking. By making it always winter, the White Witch froze Narnia at it darkest time of the year. By never having Christmas, she didn't allow hope to shine through.
I never thought of Christmas as a "shining light in the dark winter." But that's what it is! And it really explains John 1, that Christ, the "light of the world," came to our dark world: "The light shineth in darkness" [1:5]. And what about Isaiah 9:2? "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light." :)
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby Narnia #1 Fan » Feb 12, 2010 8:23 am

I see many aspects of creation/nature in the Chronicles of Narnia. Particularily in The Magician's Nephew when Aslan was creating Narnia from the Lion's song. ALso in the Last Battle when a new Narnia is created. ALso the fact that there is no real civilzation in Narnia until King Miraz comes to rule shows that the world is very young and full of nature and not man-made things.
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby aslansothername » Feb 13, 2010 2:27 pm

WOW, I see that as so true! That is an analogy that I have never though of, but it makes since. God is the creator of all things, and nature responds to His command, the same with Aslan coming back.
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby Lady Robin » Feb 17, 2010 6:31 pm

God is the creator of all things, and nature responds to His command, the same with Aslan coming back.

I just joined the conversation, hope y'all don't mind... :)
Nature does respond to His command, like we see in the Jesus' stopping of the storm upon the lake, where the wind and sea obeyed Him. With corruption, though, the nature began to run wild, like in Last Battle with the deception of the lion's pelt. Question, too: Lucy thinks winter is an awesome season, with Christmas and snow, but in LWW, winter's portrayed as dark and evil, since it came from the Witch. Before the Witch, though, did they still think that winter was evil, since it's the opposite of spring and summer? :-\
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby Lady Galadriel » Feb 17, 2010 9:06 pm

Hey, welcome to NW, Lady Robin! Good to join in the conversation (I am too). B-)

I don't think the Narnians thought of winter as evil before the Witch. I don't know if they would have any reason to. I will consult my copy of LWW and if I find anything of interest, will mention it. In any fantasy story, summer is naturally known as a happier time than winter. (I believe Mr. Tumnus tells Lucy all about how wonderful summer is, with the parties and feasts and such.) But in winter, there are no parties (except Christmas!) and nature seems to be asleep. And this winter would actually be evil because it is created by the Witch's power; it's not a natural winter. And so it melts when Aslan comes nearer because the Witch's power is being broken. Forgive me if I'm going on and on! :ymblushing:
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Re: "Always winter and never Christmas"

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Feb 18, 2010 9:23 am

Lady Robin, good example of how nature responds to Jesus. Also, he curses the fig tree and it dies. He is able to help the disciples catch a lot of fish where there weren't fish before.
Another interesting point is that nature seems to know who Jesus is while people don't always see it. In the story of Balaam (Numbers 22), his donkey saw the Angel of the Lord and Balaam did not. According to my Bible,
"The Angel of the Lord" or "of God," or "of His presence" is readily identified with the Lord God (Gen. 16:11, 13; 22:11, 12; 31:11, 13; Exod. 3:1-6 and other passages). But it is obvious that the "Angel of the Lord" is a distinct person in Himself from God the Father (Gen. 24:7; Exod. 23:20; Zech. 1:12, 13 and other passages). Nor does the "Angel of the Lord" appear again after Christ came in human form. He must of necessity be One of the "three-in-one" Godhead. The "Angel of the Lord" is the visible Lord God of the Old Testament, as Jesus Christ is of the New Testament. Thus His deity is clearly portrayed in the Old Testament. The Cambridge Bible observes, "There is a fascinating forecast of the coming Messiah, breaking through the dimness with amazing consistency, at intervals from Genesis to Malachi. Abraham, Moses, the slave girl Hagar, the impoverished farmer Gideon, even the humble parents of Samson, had seen and talked with Him centuries before the herald angels proclaimed His birth in Bethlehem."
In that case Balaam, wasn't seeing One of the Godhead but his animal (a part of nature) was.

In Narnia, it is dumb mice that nibble away at the cords. They must have sense that Aslan was important because otherwise I think they would avoid lions. The dumb animals in PC gather around Aslan so they also must know who he is. While some Narnians, especially dwarves, don't want to come near him.
I don't think the Narnians considered winter evil before the White Witch nor do they after her winter is destroyed. In SC, they celebrate the snow dance. The problem with the Witch's winter was that it was too long and lacked celebrations. It was not only cold in temperature but cold in spirit. The witch didn't allow them any joy. I love winter but I won't want it year in and year out. I wouldn't want endless spring or endless summer or unless fall either.
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