The Lion, The Witch, and The Bookshelf:
I remember fondly my dad reading the stories of CS Lewis to me and my younger siblings growing up. He would make voices for all of the animals, and speculate with us afterwards about what might happen in the next night’s reading. Then we would talk about how the story related to the teachings of the bible, we would pray about it, and then he would say goodnight.
As I got older and more curious, I noticed the other books contained on the same shelf, at the base of the stairs. Many of them were also written by CS Lewis, and so of course I dove in. What I found were not fun stories about animals but rather dense arguments for “Christian Marriage” and “The Reality of the Law of Human Nature”. These were each topics covered in CS Lewis’s popular apologetics book Mere Christianity. One argument more than any other lodged itself firmly in my mind, as a child. CS Lewis argues that the one vice in every person, what he calls the Great Sin, is Pride.
I’m not sure my parents ever called Pride The Great Sin specifically, but the concept was doctrine in our house. It was frowned upon to ever claim ownership over an accomplishment. Remember, God gave it to you. Liking how you looked was ok, but liking how you looked? That’s arrogant, and shallow. Modesty.
This past June was my first Pride month as a trans woman. I didn’t really go to any events. Too scared, and I didn’t really have anyone to go with. I instead sat at home and read Reaching for the Invisible God. It’s the book my mom sent me when I came out to her. I remember it well, sitting on the same bookshelf at the base of the stairs.
I don’t remember when I first discovered the film Jesus Camp. It feels like I’ve always seen it. It’s a documentary film about a summer camp for children of evangelical Christians. I watch it often. I’ll admit, I’m obsessed. I just identify so strongly with the children in that movie, told to be ashamed of their doubt and to reject the world around them. At one point, the host of the camp tells a room full of children that if Harry Potter had been in the old testament he would have been put to death. I’m very thankful that my parents were never that strict, and on the bookshelf at the base of the stairs also sat the Harry Potter series. Turns out the author of those books hates me.
What does the author of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe think of me? Can’t imagine it’s very good. All I can imagine is where I must have sat as my dad read the books. Maybe the foot of his bed? Maybe the floor beside the bed? I don’t remember where we were when we did this. I can’t remember which house, which would help me remember who was there, because technically I can’t remember if he read the books to just me or me and my siblings. To be honest with you, I’m not certain that my dad read these books to us. It might have been my sister reading. I know he read The Lord of the Rings to me. I might be combining the memories.
It’s hard for me to remember my childhood. I hid away, pushing down thoughts and holding feelings in my body. Modesty! I was in a wardrobe of sorts, if you catch my drift. And now I’m out. And Goddamn me straight to fucking hell, no takebacks, but I’m proud of myself.