C.S. Lewis: 'Chronicles of Narnia' Author, Advocate for Animals
"The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" was the most watched movie in America this past weekend, as measured by box office receipts. It’s based on the third novel in C.S. Lewis’s adventure saga and tells the story of three children pulled into Narnia, this time on a ship, to help Prince Caspian find the missing seven Lords of Telmar. The film was co-produced by Walden Media, the entertainment company that also released "Charlotte’s Web" and "Amazing Grace," which in its telling of William Wilberforce’s heroic battle against slavery also highlights this devout man’s determined though less well known fight against animal cruelty.
Author of the seven Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis was a prolific writer and scholar who remains one of the most popular Christian authors of all time. Born as Clive Staples Lewis in 1898, he received three degrees from Oxford University and became good friends with fellow student J.R.R. Tolkien, who played a key role in his conversion to Christianity.
According to the BBC biography of the man, "Lewis's love for animals shines through all his writings, and it made him especially concerned with finding a meaning behind animal suffering." Lewis's "The Problem of Pain" is a notable contribution to the discussion of animal welfare, given that it came in the 1940s when there was so little interest in the topic.
As illustrated in the fictional Narnia series, he frequently used animals in his stories to show their qualities in a new light. The heroic lion in the Narnia series, Aslan, represents the Christ figure in Lewis’s series.
Many of us at The HSUS are big fans of Lewis, and we were pleased to host a lecture not long ago from Dr. Gerald Root, a professor at Wheaton College in Illinois and one of the nation’s top Lewis scholars. Dr. Root has allowed us to make available his original lecture, titled, "C.S. Lewis as Advocate for Animals" (you can download the PDF here). About the matter of animals, Lewis "kept working on deepening his grasp of this theme he considered so important," wrote Dr. Root.
Through his writings and through the creative works like the popular Narnia films that followed from them, Lewis remains a very relevant figure for us today. If he were with us, I have no doubt he’d be so pleased with the fierce advocacy work of The Humane Society of the United States, and especially excited about our Faith Outreach programs.