Bio: Heidi Haverkamp is Vicar of the Episcopal Church of St. Benedict in Bolingbrook, Illinois. Her gifts for ministry include teaching, preaching, and spiritual guidance and counseling. Her writing has appeared in several magazines and websites, including The Christian Century, Upper Room Disciplines, and Episcopal Café. She is a Benedictine oblate of Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisconsin, and a member of The Young Clergy Women Project. Visit her blog at www.vicarofbolingbrook.net.
The Rev. Heidi Haverkamp is here today to talk about her new book
Brad: First off, congratulations on the publication of your new book Advent in Narnia: Reflections for the Season. What was the motivation to write an Advent themed book, and one with Narnia as a lens?
Heidi: Thanks, Brad! It’s been a lot of fun. An Advent program based on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe had been on my ministry ideas list since the Disney movie came out in 2005. The first half of the novel – with its snow, light in the darkness, pine trees, Father Christmas, shared meals, and on and on – is such a perfect match for Advent. It was a visual connection I made, more than anything else. Finally, a few years ago, I went looking around online for a book or curriculum and couldn’t believe it when I didn’t find one. So, I wrote my own materials and used them with my congregation in Advent 2013. We had so much fun that I wanted to see if there was a way I could offer something to other congregations or individuals.
Do you remember your first experience with either the books or any of the film adaptations?
I read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe when I was in elementary school – I’m not quite sure how I found it. It was sitting around our house, as I recall. I didn’t read any other Narnia Chronicles (and I confess, I haven’t read all of them!) until I was an adult.
Can you tell us a bit about how you’ve structured the book?
I wrote it so that anyone could use it, whether they were familiar with the novel or storyline, or not. The book has 28 personal reflections written for individual use, and a four-part group discussion program in the back. There’s also an outline of ideas for a “Narnia Night” for families (or even some fun-loving adult Narnia fans!). But I’ve heard of a few adult group planning simply to read the reflections during the week and discuss what they’ve read when they gather, rather than using the discussion guide. Whatever works for you!
If I recall, the White Witch gives one of the often quoted passages that “it is always winter, but never Christmas.” Does this theme play into your reflections?
Absolutely. Although that is actually something Mr. Tumnus says rather than the Witch, who I imagine would probably rather not mention that anything like Christmas even existed. That quote was actually my first idea for a title, but ended up feeling too cumbersome. Thankfully in our own world, even if the busyness and stress of the season can make it seem to go on forever, Advent does give way to Christmas. And one day, our longer Advent of waiting for Christ to return, will also end!
Any parting thoughts for our readers?
I commend the Narnia Chronicles to them, either to read for the first time or to reread as an adult, if they haven’t ever done so. Especially The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, The Magician’s Nephew, and The Last Battle. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is lovely, too. There are awkward moments in Lewis – his characters are sometimes flat and his plot development can be clumsy – but the theology of grace running underneath is quite wonderful to discover as an adult, attuned to many subtleties that children might not notice.
Finally, I would love to recommend one more book to your readers: Rowan Williams’ The Lion’s World. He’s written an absolutely stunning theology and cultural study of the novels, which is both deeply moving and written in a conversational style. It also includes a series of newly commissioned illustrations – simple and whimsical!
Thank you for sharing your time today.
Brad is Senior at Virginia Theological Seminary and Candidate for Holy Order in the Diocese of Chicago.