What Would C.S. Lewis Think of Stranger Things?

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Have you ever read a book that you couldn’t put down until the end? What about a T.V. show that was so compelling it consumed your life until you finished watching every season? Perhaps you can think of movies that you rewatched over and over simply because they captured your imagination. I can certainly think of books and movies that have had this effect on me. The Lord of the Rings trilogy, directed by Peter Jackson, was perhaps my favorite movie growing up. I loved the characters, and much of my childhood, I imagined what it would be like to actually save Middle Earth and destroy the One Ring. While it is no longer my favorite series, I remember waiting until midnight to buy the last Huger Games book by Suzanne Collins. Then I went home and read the entire book that night. I was captivated! More recently, the T.V. show that has captured my attention is the Netflix original titled “Stranger Things.” Have you heard of it?

For the longest time, I wondered what all the hype was about, and then I watched episode one and then two…then three. I loved the show, and within a week I had watched season one and two of Stranger Things. As I watched some questions came to mind, “What about this show do I enjoy so much?” What about this show is so captivating? And then, when season two was over, I wondered, “Why am I not satisfied? After all, the Duffer Brothers did provide a level of ‘closure’ to the end of season two.” C.S. Lewis writes in Mere Christianity.

If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world. If none of my earthly pleasures satisfy it, that does not prove that the universe is a fraud. Probably earthly pleasures were never meant to satisfy it, but only to arouse it, to suggest the real thing. If that is so, I must take care, on the one hand, never to despise, or be unthankful for, these earthly blessings, and on the other, never to mistake them for the something else of which they are only a kind of copy, or echo, or mirage. I must keep alive in myself the desire for my true country, which I shall not find till after death; I must never let it get snowed under or turned aside; I must make it the main object of life to press on to that other country and to help others to do the same. [1]

Stranger Things is not a religious show. It’s not intended to be a spiritual work, yet it contains many commendable aspects — and some less than praiseworthy elements too. There is a struggle between good and evil. There are heroes and villains. Friendship is upheld as Mike explains to Eleven, “A promise; it’s like something that you can never break.” or “Friends don’t lie. They are always there for you, no matter what.” Who doesn’t want a friendship like that?

The reality is that as humans, we were created and designed to desire all of these things. We were made for relationship. It is right to want good to prevail over evil, and since the beginning of time, man has been captivated by stories. It should be no surprise that when a captivating storyline is combined with good acting and such commendable aspects that our hearts are stirred, emotions captured, and attention is given until we get the end of the season. However, it is essential to remember that a T.V. show will always leave these desires unsatisfied. It is why we are left wanting more and the reason we are excited about the announcement of each new season. But this should not cause us to give up or to lose heart.

JESUS = THE BETTER FRIEND

As I consider the shows and books that have captured my attention, one thing is similar about all of them. They portrayed deep friendships. In Lord of the Rings, we see the close bond that Sam Wise and Frodo Baggins share as Sam willingly carried Frodo up Mt. Doom to destroy the One Ring. In Sherlock, we can’t help but love the patience of Watson, who is willing to put up with the foolishness of Sherlock. And in Stranger Things, we love watching the friendship of Will, Dustin, Mike, and Lucas. We all desire relationships like this. We want people in our lives who will be there for us no matter what. We want people in our lives who will keep their promise even when it is hard. And, these desires are not wrong. But what we must understand that only Jesus can satisfy these desires completely.

A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

Hebrews 13:5 Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) 

Jesus is the friend who sticks closer than a brother. Jesus is the friend you can depend on at all times. Jesus is the friend who will never leave you. But what makes Jesus so different is that he is the Creator and has the power to carry out his promises. So our goal is not to suppress the desires for friendship but rather the direct them to the only one who can truly satisfy them — Jesus.

JESUS = THE BETTER STORY

Man has always been captivated by stories. From the very beginning of time, people have loved telling and hearing stories. That’s why when a good story comes along, we listen. But there is an even greater story that is being written on the pages of history. It is the story of redemption and God’s pursuit of glory. Mark Twain once said, “Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obligated to stick to possibilities; Truth isn’t.” While Mark Twain probably didn’t have God in mind when he penned these words, his assertion is right. After all, no one could have imagined a story where God willingly gives his very own Son to save rebels yet, “while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.” We would never conceive of a Son who willingly agrees to this plan, yet we find in Philippians 2:8 that, “being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” It is even more amazing to consider that this wasn’t Plan B. This was the plan from the very beginning.

God’s plan, from the very beginning, was to use inexplicable means to save the world, namely the death of his Son. Furthermore, it is through this suffering that the Son is glorified. I can think of no greater story ever written.

JESUS = THE BETTER HOME

While it is probably not true in every situation, many of the stories we love wrestle with the desire to be home to find a place of belonging. One of the things I found fascinating is the number of times this idea comes up in Stranger things. Throughout the show, Eleven is on a hunt for a place to call home. On a few occasions, she is called an alien. Then as the show progresses, many people offer her the promise of home. They tell her that she has found a place of belonging. As we have already seen, these are good desires. We were created for this desire, but Stranger Things could never fully satisfy this desire. No earthly home could fulfill this desire completely. We were created to live with our Creator. In John 14, we find a fantastic promise — you know a promise, “it’s something you never break no matter what.” Jesus said to his disciples, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.”

CONCLUSION

“Not only are we longing for someone; it seems we are homesick for somewhere.”(fn) We were created to be home. We were created to live with the best friend who has ever lived. It is an amazing ending to the greatest story. Until then, however, we must not give up on our desires. Instead, we must direct them towards the only one who can truly satisfy and allow that anticipation to create greater zeal in our lives. Yes, things look rather bleak at times, but all the best stories are bleak for a time before there is resolution. We know the end of this story and it is truly incredible. So we wait patiently for the day when our longings for real joy are overshadowed by Joy that is inexpressible.

Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with inexpressible and glorious joy. (1 Peter 1:8)

This is our hope! This is the true desire that all other desires should lead us toward, even Stranger Things.


AUTHOR’S NOTE: I welcome any questions, sarcastic comments, or additional thoughts you may have. Please feel free to reach out HERE — seriously! If you were helped by something you read, please share it with your sphere of influence. Thanks! 

[1] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, pp. 136.