Further Up with Timothy Willard
About Further Up
Further Up is a weekly publication that offers cultural interpretation with the aim to help you live like the beautiful, the good, and the true still matter in this world.
It is an exploration of what it means to be a Christian who lives with purpose and passion in an aimless world.
This newsletter is an exploration of what it means to be a Christian who lives with purpose and passion in an aimless world.
More for the Curious
Despite the name, this newsletter is not about all things C.S. Lewis. Though I am what you’d consider a C.S. Lewis scholar—I did a PhD at King’s College London on beauty in the works of C.S. Lewis—I use Lewis’s phrase “Further Up” as a way of looking at the world.
Though I realize some people may not have a bearing on Lewis’s phrase. If you’re in that boat, I hope the following foray is helpful.
The phrase “Further up and further in” became famous in the writings of C.S. Lewis. In his final story of the Narniad, The Last Battle, the great lion Aslan ushers the children into New Narnia through a magic doorway. “Come further up. Come further in!” into the world of New Narnia, he shouts.
Lewis’s phrase “Further up and further in!” invites the reader to explore heaven itself. The new Narnia opens up before the children. They do not recognize it at first, but as they travel further in they realize they are seeing Narnia again, but with a fresh perspective.1 Lewis’s power of mythmaking here brings the reader into the collision of worlds; a device common to fairy stories.2
Lucy described this new and improved Narnia like this:
“This is still Narnia, and, more real and more beautiful than the Narnia down below, just as it was more real and more beautiful than the Narnia outside the Stable door! I see … world within world, Narnia within Narnia.”3
Perhaps the Unicorn describes it best:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country. I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for my whole life, though I never knew it till now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is because it looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”4
The new Narnia is indeed their destination, but it is a destination that is not static. Rather, it is a heavenly destination with no limitation to its size and scope. Like Perelandra’s “Great Dance,” it is alive itself and beckons the travellers to explore every nook and cranny of the new world.
Is this new Narnia a symbol of heaven or God himself? Perhaps it is a bit of both. Either way, we find the new Narnia curiously present in Psyche’s mountain of doom—the place she had waited for her entire life; the place where all the beauty came from.5 As it so happens, this place is a living, never-ending place.
As such, this publication invites you, the reader, not into heaven per se. But into a place of cultural exploration as seen, experienced, and understood through the lens of Christianity. Lewis, in his essay, “Is Theology Poetry,” wrote: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.”6 Christianity was the lens through which he interpreted the world.
This weekly publication offers cultural interpretation with the aim to help you live like the beautiful, the good, and the true still matter in this world.
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The Last Battle, 167. The High King remarks: “It reminds me of somewhere but I can’t give it a name. Could it be somewhere we once stayed for a holiday when we were very, very small?” Lewis echoes himself here as the new Narnia embodies his specialized sense of Joy. “All joy reminds.” (SBJ, 78) Lewis is describing the point in time in which the thing longed for becomes a reality. When a person becomes aware of their “fragmentary and phantasmal nature” and is confronted by the reality of a reunion with that which can annihilate them. See Surprised by Joy, 22.
Matthew Dickerson and David O’Hara, From Homer to Harry Potter, 39-42.
The Last Battle, 180.
Here I am referencing the similarity of place in Till We Have Faces (102-116), Perelandra (176-190), and The Last Battle (161-184). In each story, a “place” of utter Joy emerges signifying communion, emblematic of the source of desire, for which beauty is the catalyst, and embodying the meeting place of divine and human, i.e., home.
C. S. Lewis, The Weight of Glory, HarperCollins REV ed. edition. (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2001).