Life in Color

Living life in color. Bursting out of the seams of the Shadowlands. That’s what we, modern-day Narnians, long for.
OneRepublic’s “Life in Color” I think can be borrowed to describe what C.S. Lewis writes about in “Myth Became Fact.”

From the darkest grays
The sun bursts, clouds break
Yeah, we see that fire
From the streets of Babylon
To the road that we’ve been on now
The kaleidoscope claims another

Whoa oh oh oh
Well this is life in color (color)
Today feels like no other (other)
And the darkest grays
The sun bursts, clouds break

Whoa oh oh oh
Well this is life in motion (motion)
And just when I could run this race no more
The sun bursts, clouds break
This is life in color

You’ve seen my worst
Yet you see some hope in me
The black and white sets us free
Like the queen to the rook
Your decision is a sure thing
Honey yeah, a sure thing
No wonder I feel
Like I’m missing a heavy load
But no matter what daylight brings to us
We all know

Whoa oh oh oh
Well this is life in color (color)
Today feels like no other (other)
And the darkest grays
The sun bursts, clouds break

Now, I seriously doubt whether Ryan Tedder, the front man for OneRepublic, intended the song to mean what I’m going to make it mean for this post. He does comes from a family of missionaries and pastors, but, I’m not sure he had in mind the connections to Lewis and Tolkien that I am about to make.

Charlie W. Starr wrote an essay titled, “The Silver Chair and the Silver Screen: C.S. Lewis on Myth, Fairy Tale and Film.” Starr opens his essay with a description of Plato’s “The Allegory of the Cave” and how it describes the “real world” and how we live in a life of illusions, a life viewing shadows on a cave wall. They are imperfect pictures of a reality that does exist outside of the cave.

In Lewis’ The Last Battle, the characters of the former books come in to Aslan’s country. Everything there looks similar to Narnia, but is more real and perfect, the way it should be. This is similar to Plato’s real world, Starr writes.

Starr writes that we get glimpses of this more real world through looking glasses – like in Alice does in Alice in Wonderland. Brochures, Starr says, frame things and make them look different than they are in real life. Starr said this is because it is in a frame. I’ve noticed this happens sometimes with travel photography. I’ve looked at a photo and thought, “I’ve been there, wow, that looks … different … from what I remembered…” The photo “frame” tends to make the place look better.

Movies, pictures and brochures make things look more real and more beautiful than they do in real life, Starr says. When we watch movies, everything is magnified and amplified into something that looks more meaningful than the drudgery of our days. In movies, our world is played back to us and mirrored to us – everything looks deeper and better.

Scenes that happen on screen often happen in our everyday lives – like weddings, or hikes in the woods, or airplane rides — but somehow they’re more exciting on the silver screen than they are in our lives.

Lewis would say this is because we live in the Shadowlands. We have glimpses of Narnia; yet, we are not residing there.

Things on TV and in these “mirrors” seem to mean more. But, Starr asks, what is meaning?

Meaning comes from more than just words – it is in the seeing and experiencing.

“Lewis believed that imagining was as important as reasoning. We don’t normally associate imagination with a practical search for knowledge, but Lewis did,” Starr writes.

Imagination needs to take form, for true meaning and understanding to happen.

In “Myth Became Fact,” Lewis writes about the difference between abstraction and experience – thinking versus experiencing. Lewis writes that experiencing enables us to understand things concretely instead of simply knowing of something but never experiencing it.

I can know or believe that New Zealand is beautiful, but until I’ve been there, it’s a beauty that lives in abstraction. I can know that breaking a bone hurts, but until I actually break one, my knowledge of this is second-hand. I can know poverty exists, but until I walked through the slums of India, I didn’t really have the deep-seated compassion that comes with seeing firsthand.

Starr uses the example of Eustace, a character in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace was an example of someone who was all thought and no experience. Starr writes. Eustace needed to experience reality – he was too far in the abstract.

“He needs a higher reality, a world of the fantastic far more real than his own,“ Star wrote.

At the end of the book, Eustace realizes what he’d been missing.

Starr mentions Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” and how there is no abstraction in heaven. Everything there is truly, “life in color.”

But, here in the Shadowlands, we are still living life in abstraction Starr writes.

Lewis would say that myth helps us with this. Myth is the abstraction realized. It’s a story of experience that we can engage in. It is the tale of something bigger than us but it is something we can relate to and relates truth to us in an experiential way.

The line in the One Republic song I mentioned above –  “And just when I could run this race no more / The sun bursts, clouds break / This is life in color.”

Tolkien would perhaps call a “eucatastrophe.” Tolkien coined this word in his essay “On Fairy Stories” to describe the intervention or turn of events that saves the protagonist from imminent harm. In Lord of the Rings, it might be when Frodo and Sam are saved from death the eagles, Clyde S. Kilby wrote in an essay on Tolkien.

Tolkien writes that Christ coming to earth was the eucatastrophe to the fall of man and the resurrection was the eucatastrophe to the incarnation.

Just as the OneRepublic song says, or sings, just when we thought we could run the race no more, the Son bursts forth through the clouds—we are saved by His sacrifice, and we can truly live life in color. We can live, because we’ve experienced the saving grace of God made flesh, when we choose to let Christ save us — that is our eucatastrophe. We’ve experienced and we leave the life of abstraction into a life of color and vibrancy.

As I mentioned previously, in The Last Battle, the Narnian characters enter Aslan’s country. It’s similar to the life of color they’d already experienced, but, it was different, better, more beautiful and “more perfect.”

“The heroes of Narnia have entered Lewis’ version of Plato’s most real world. Digory explains that the old Narnia was not the real one and so will pass away. It was only a copy of the real Narnia which never had a beginning and will never see an end,” Starr writes.

As believers, we have the promise of entering God’s kingdom. It will see no end and be a richer, fuller and more beautiful place from anything we’ve experienced. We will finally and forever leave Plato’s cave we will truly be living life in color, worshiping our Savior and God. That day will truly feel like none other.

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