He is so much more than a cartoon drawing on the front of a children’s book. He is more than the central figure of The Chronicles of Narnia. Aslan transcends story. As Stratford Caldecott says,
His reality is something else, something deeper. In fact Lewis constructed him not as a character within the story, but as the presence within the story of something more real than the story, more real than the author himself.
I love that Hollywood tried to recreate the story for us. I love that they tried. I was infinitely disappointed, though. Who wasn’t? Perhaps anyone who has yet to read the books. But C. S. Lewis did something so significant. He created a figure we all desire to know. He is fierce, wild, unpredictable, mystical, authoritative, tender, playful, strong, nurturing, and unchallengable. He is the one we want to run to when we are scared, and the one we are willing to accept correction from because we are convinced of his love. How did any one man manage to capture this in a story? I am reminded of this passage in the Bible that says, “Deep calls unto deep.” Honestly, I would never have known what that meant if someone hadn’t explained it to me. The deep passions, deep heart of God calls out unto the deep passions and the heart of mankind.
This is what it means to be human. It means to be equipped with this part of your “self” which can be touched by the calling depths of God. That is the best way I know to describe Aslan. Those are the only words to describe the sheer instinctual draw towards this fictional character. Deep calls unto deep. But just how exactly does a fictional character call out and draw so many millions of readers? Truthfully, it doesn’t. Some may claim a sort of imaginative appeal and so forth, but such explanations lack substance. What is going on here? Why do we regretfully set the book aside only to revisit the stale, stagnant perceptions of God we have always known? Because we know no better. Because we do not believe that a God anywhere in the universe could actually be as wonderful as Aslan. Well, maybe a god could be as wonderful, but no god actually is, and that’s all that matters. At least, that’s what our life experiences tell us.
Funny thing about life experiences is how subjective they are. They are at the mercy of everyone and everything near enough to have influence upon us. There are children who are abused by family members whose life experience tells them never to trust another soul again. Those life experiences are convincing. But they dictate a broken understanding of life. Maybe Aslan isn’t too good to be true. Maybe our eyes cannot see because our past lies riddled with brokenness that dictates to each one of us what must be true. It’s possible. If so, then how do we determine what to believe?