The Curtain Fall, the Final Bow: This is the End of Ex-Narnian.

Where I live, it’s not quite midnight, but I’m already celebrating the new year. Already, 2020 looks to be filled with big adventures, exciting opportunities, and a measure of peace.

But the new year also gives me a chance to make some overdue changes. Ex-Narnian is one of them. The last sand grains are about to fall through the hourglass of 2019, and I am eager to end this year on a good note—partly by leaving some baggage behind.

This blog has been a source of deep personal pain and embarrassment. My critiques of Narnia and Christianity came from a disturbed and confused place, and I’m haunted when I look back at it all. Writing those posts once seemed like a great idea, but now it looks more like literary masturbation: It felt great at the time, but it did no good, and it weighs me down with regret and embarrassment even now.

To be fair with myself, writing this blog made sense at the time. My crisis of faith was the worst thing that ever happened to me, and I didn’t know how to process it. Somehow, I got the idea in my head to launch a blog called Ex-Narnian, thinking it would help me through my struggles and, as a bonus, alert people to the power and problems of some of of C.S. Lewis’s most beloved ideas. (I still think Narnia has troubling ideas and Lewis’s depiction of Jesus is the most troubling of them all.) Instead, with all the predictability of an epic Hollywood gunfight, I made a fool out of myself, and I put words into the blogosphere that never needed to be here.

People make mistakes. In my life, Ex-Narnian is a big one. As a Christian, I am supposed to speak words that edify and strengthen Christians and praise the God who gave me my talents. As a writer, I am supposed to express meaningful ideas with lucid thoughts and clear words. Too many of my posts are discouraging and dark, with confused words written from a confused mind.

So what will I do with this blog? I don’t know. I could make it private—for my eyes only—but it would be like carrying that baggage from 2019 with me. I could delete it—be done with it once and for all—but I can’t just erase all those words without seriously thinking through the consequences. I can’t just erase a quarter million words without taking a pause.

However I close the door, I know it won’t reopen. Ex-Narnian has reached its end. There’s nothing more I need to say. Hell, there’s nothing more I want to say. The critiques have been published, the struggles are over, the faith is kept—and I’d rather not keep it with the whole world watching.

Who knows? Maybe I’ll start another blog someday.

Just not about Narnia.

Peace out, and thanks for reading.
John Duritz

Civil War | Sometimes “I Don’t Know” Is the Best Answer

Jesus said the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). But that doesn’t mean we’ll get the whole story, especially on the first pass. If you live honestly, you’ll ask yourself a lot of questions—and the deeper you dig, the more you realize how threadbare the platitudes are.

Ever since my faith was blown up 53 months ago, I’ve been asking a ton of questions. Whenever I’ve looked for answers, I’ve quickly realized things were more complicated than I thought. Even after all my thinking and studying, my most basic questions remain unanswered: Why did I dream about lions? Why was my faith shattered by Narnia and the Bible? Why does this crisis have to go on so long?

I don’t know. I don’t even have a clue.

And that’s OK.

Continue reading “Civil War | Sometimes “I Don’t Know” Is the Best Answer”

Civil War | The End of Reason

One of the best pieces of writing advice I’ve ever heard is short, sweet, and to the point: Read. To be a good writer, you need to read. You need to read often, and you need to read a lot. Why? Because reading shows you different story ideas, different characters, different writing styles, different worldviews. Reading doesn’t give you a toolbox—it gives you a whole tool shop of things you can use. Put another way, others’ words are the fertilizer that makes your own words grow.

To excel in writing, you need to let your walls down and get outside your head.

I think we can say that of ourselves, too.

Continue reading “Civil War | The End of Reason”

Civil War | Echoes

Feelings. That’s one of the many things I’m trying to sort out. If there were a button I could push and I could see everything through the lens of reason and evidence, I would have pushed it years ago. But no such button exists. Anytime I encounter something, I not only think about it—I feel it deeply.

Right now, my feelings toward God and faith are bad. When I read the Bible, I feel afraid and uneasy. When I listen to Christian music, I feel nauseated. When I hear atheists’ opinions, I feel vindicated. When I hear bad arguments for God and faith, I feel irritated.

But why?

Why do I feel this way?

Am I just bitter and angry?

Am I dissatisfied with Christianity?

Am I blinded by hate and fear?

Feelings are echoes. They’re responses to stimuli. If we’re poked by a needle, we feel pain. If we stick our hand out an open door into the cold winter air, we feel chilled.

But feelings aren’t always that simple. They don’t always come in action-reaction pairs. For example, suppose you had an abusive father who’s no longer in your life. One day, you see someone who speaks and looks like your father, and a battle breaks out in your heart. You want to hate this person, but you know he doesn’t deserve it—he didn’t do anything but stir up bad memories. It’s your father who hurt you, and it’s this other person who just reminded you of your father.

I wonder if that’s what’s happening with me. Are my negative feelings toward God and faith justified? Or are they echoes of something else? Could it be that I’m not really angry at God and Christianity—I’m just blinkered by His bad representatives and annoyed by the music? Could it be that I don’t really think God sucks—I’m just disappointed that He’s not what I want Him to be?

Either way, how can I tell?

That’s what I’m trying to figure out.

Civil War

Right now, a battle is going on between my head and my heart. My heart wants to believe in God, but my head is full of doubts. To make matters worse, my heart is in a civil war: Half believes in God, and the other hates what it sees in Him.

And, like the genius I am, I’ve been fighting it all wrong.

Scratch that—I haven’t been fighting it at all.

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Another Magdalen Moment

You must picture me alone in that room at Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all of England.

C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy

That’s kind of where I am tonight.

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Comfort Is Not Enough

Whenever we’re in a difficult place, we tend to look for relief. It may be a person, an activity, even the memories of the past—anything to take our minds off the present.

That’s how it’s been for me. I was a Christian as far back as I can remember. Faith was all I’ve known. But this year, I have awoken in a different world.

For the first time in my life, I’ve stopped calling myself a believer. And part of me hates it.

Continue reading “Comfort Is Not Enough”