When an author of fiction employs the imagination and sets characters in a new location, they are in a sense creating a world. Might such fictional worlds give us a deeper appreciation for our own?
Many readers have found themselves, like the Pevensie children, transported by C. S. Lewis into Narnia, and they have traveled from Lantern Waste to Cair Paravel and the edge of the sea. Thanks to J. R. R. Tolkien, readers have also journeyed with Bilbo, Frodo, and their companions across Middle-earth from the Shire to the Lonely Mountain, the forest of Mirkwood, the mines of Moria, and the very fires of Mount Doom. But as often as we enter these fictional worlds as readers, we eventually return to our world refreshed with sharpened insight.
In The Wonders of Creation, biologist Kristen Page explores the beloved fictional landscapes of Narnia and Middle-earth in order to discover what we might learn about real-life landscapes and how to become better stewards of God's good creation.
Based on the annual lecture series hosted at Wheaton College's Marion E. Wade Center, volumes in the Hansen Lectureship Series reflect on the imaginative work and lasting influence of seven British authors: Owen Barfield, G. K. Chesterton, C. S. Lewis, George MacDonald, Dorothy L. Sayers, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Charles Williams.
"For anyone who grew up mentally wandering the forests of Narnia or Middle-earth, this book will be a joy and a revelation—you'll be reminded just how deep those images went into your heart. I'm pretty sure the best place to read it is with your back against a tree trunk on a sunny day—but if it's cold and snowy out, these pages will summon that summer in your soul."
"In this timely book, Kristen Page issues a compelling prophetic call for conservative evangelicals who have often ignored climate crisis warnings—and also love Lewis and Tolkien—to care for God's good creation. She shows how losing ourselves within the beauty of Narnia and Middle-earth's imaginary landscapes can awaken our capacity for ecological wonder and humility, leading us to extol the glory of God and respect the imago Dei in all of creation. Page and her conversation partners model how scholars in science, theology, and literature might come together to address crucial issues of our time."
"Kristen Page's exploration of Narnia, Middle-earth, and our own wondrous earth is sure to inspire readers to return to the tales of Lewis and Tolkien and see afresh the beauty and brokenness of the world just outside their front door. Page is an engaging and insightful guide to these landscapes, and her reflections are enlivened by thoughtful responses from colleagues at Wheaton. Highly recommended for fans of Tolkien and Lewis, for those who love literature and ecology, and really for all of us whose capacity for wonder will be expanded by this delightful little book."
"The Wonders of Creation is a creative, insightful, and well-written book. It is, furthermore, a timely tome that shows how fictional landscapes, such as those created by C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien, can inspire us to care for the damaged landscapes of our world today. Drawing on careful readings of Lewis and Tolkien, ecologist Kristen Page weaves a tapestry of reflections on ecological literacy, lament, and wonder, to which Christina Bieber Lake, Emily Hunter McGowin, and Noah Toly offer short responses. The thoughtful writing in The Wonders of Creation will foster our care of our home places."
"I am looking forward to a day in which science and the arts will end their centuries-long separation. In particular, I think the science of ecology is the best-known living discourse for recovering the ethos of premodern approaches to the cosmos. I read this book with highlighter in hand, eager to find a way into this promising dialogue."
1. Stepping Out of the Wardrobe
Searching Fictional Landscapes to Guide Our View of Our Own World
Response—Christina Bieber Lake
2. A Lament for Creation
Responding to the Groaning of God’s World
3. Ask the Animals to Teach You
How to Regain Wonder and Rejoin the Chorus
Response—Emily Hunter McGowin
List of Contributors