Posted in Devotion

The White Witch

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the witch said.”

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund leaves his brothers and sisters to chase after the White Witch because what she offers to him seems more enticing. He soon learns that everything she told him was lies, and he is treated very poorly in her presence. After being rescued by Aslan’s army and talked to by Aslan, he seems completely changed. This quote describing the White Witch’s accusations against Edmund and his reaction remind me perfectly of Satan’s accusations against us.

Jesus has made me completely clean in God’s eyes and rescued me from my own White Witch, Satan. Even still Satan tries to come back and tell me that I’m a traitor and that I don’t deserve to be part of God’s family. He does this by attacking my service to God, convincing me that I’m not doing enough or that my heart is impure. My reaction sometimes is to give in to the lies and try to work harder when in reality God loves me no matter what I do. When accused by the White Witch Edmund looked at Aslan. Even when Satan tries to accuse me, I can simply look at Jesus and know that nothing Satan says matters.

Posted in Literature

Aslan and God

Once more he felt the warm breath of the Thing on his hand and face. “There,” it said, “that is not the breath of a ghost. Tell me your sorrows.”

Shasta was a little reassured by the breath: so he told how he had never known his real father or mother and had been brought up sternly by the fisherman. And then he told the story of his escape and how they were chased by lions and forced to swim for their lives; and of all their dangers in Tashbaan and about his night among the tombs and how the beasts howled at him out of the desert. And he told about the heat and thirst of their desert journey and how they were almost at their goal when another lion chased them and wounded Aravis. And also, how very long it was since he had had anything to eat.

“I do not call you unfortunate,” said the Large Voice.

“Don’t you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?” said Shasta.

“There was only one lion,” said the Voice.

“What on earth do you mean? I’ve just told you there were at least two the first night, and-“

“There was only one: but he was swift of foot.”

“How do you know?”

“I was the lion.” And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. “I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that it came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you.”

“Then it was you who wounded Aravis?”

“It was I”

“But what for?”

“Child,” said the Voice, “I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own.”

“Who are you?” asked Shasta.

“Myself,” said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again “Myself”, loud and clear and gay: and then the third time “Myself”, whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.

Shasta was no longer afraid that the Voice belonged to something that would eat him, nor that it was the voice of a ghost. But a new and different sort of trembling came over him. Yet he felt glad too.

 

This passage comes from the eleventh chapter of The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis. I found this book slightly boring the first time I read it because I enjoyed the books where the Pevensies appeared as children and had adventures. They play only a minor role in this novel. On a second read-through I find it much more pleasant to read. This passage especially captured me.

I have yet to decide if Aslan is more representative of the God the Father figure or the God the Jesus figure or in this instance he seems very much like a God the Holy Spirit figure. Maybe Aslan is all three wrapped into one character; that makes sense. I understand Shasta’s frustration that Aravis had to be injured by Aslan; I often find myself wondering why God allows people to be hurt and if God is actually causing the pain at times. The thing is though that God doesn’t have to explain that to me or anyone. He has his reasons and in this story we can see that the traveling party was protected in many cases by Aslan and part of that protection caused some physical pain. In true Aslan/God sense, he also provided a remedy to the pain. I believe that if God does allow pain into our lives, he provides a source of comfort as well, in his time of course.

My second favorite part of this passage is the repetition of the word “myself” three times. The word itself reminds me of the part of the Bible where God says that his name is “I Am.” Here Aslan does not identify himself as Aslan; in fact that is a name that others have given to him. He calls himself “myself.” What a nifty and direct parallel that Lewis makes to God. The name is repeated three times to represent that tri-nature of Aslan that I referred to previously. Aslan represents God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This is probably a literary choice in order to lessen the number of characters and to reinforce the idea of the trinity being three in one.

Finally, Shasta’s response to Aslan relates closely to how I feel sometimes. He doesn’t understand Aslan and knows very little about him. In reality he should be afraid of this lion, but something about Aslan makes him feel safe and glad. It says that a different kind of trembling came over him. This describes the awe-like fear that God inspires in us. I do not understand God. He is very big and powerful and that should make me fear him and cower. Yet, God also invites me with a warmth that changes that fear from scared to awe. 

C.S. Lewis draws a powerful parallel between Aslan and God in this passage. It sends chills down my body when I read it, as do other select passages of these novels. 

Somehow without meaning to, I believe I have written a close reading analysis of this text. Oh the English major in me. I hope this did not reveal any major plot points if you have not read this novel. Instead I hope it whet your appetite enough to want to start at the beginning of the series where Narnia is first created. Enjoy!

Posted in Literature

Great first lines

So my little brother (or not so little anymore I guess) and I were talking about great first lines in books.  We talked about the first line of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf (“Mrs. Dalloway said she would buy the flowers herself”) but he hadn’t read that book.  Then my mom mentioned “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” which is from Tale of Two Cities by Dickens.  Then I remembered my favorite opening line which happens to be the closing line as well.  It comes from The Outsiders by SE Hinton.

“When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had just two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home.”

So then I started looking up more first lines.  First lines tend to get ignored because I am so excited to get into the book, but looking back, first lines are very important.  So here’s a few from some good books.

Pride and Prejudice (Jane Austen): “IT is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.” Now how true is that?

1984 (George Orwell): “It was a bright cold day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen.” What does that mean, striking thirteen?

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (CS Lewis): “There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it.”  This is on my ‘need to read’ list.

Farenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury): “It was a pleasure to burn.”  I need to finish this book now.

The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald): “In my younger and more vulnerable years my father gave me some advice that I’ve been turning over in my mind ever since.”  Maybe it’s time to take the advice?

Little Women (Louisa May Alcott): “Did you hurt yourself Jo?”  Okay so not a great first line, but still a great book.

 

So books have great first lines, but do people?  I don’t know what my first words were, but I sure hope they were great.