Posted by: smstrouse | November 11, 2016

Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time

aslan-lion-3-the-chronicles-of-narnia-wallpaper“And now who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you could save the (world)?”

As much as I once loved C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I now have problems with it. One is its atonement theology: the necessity of a sacrifice to redeem the sinner. The other is its portrayal of the evil as a female (the White Witch).

However – it’s the story that comes to me in the aftermath of Tuesday’s election results. I truly believe that evil has (apparently) triumphed. I’m not saying that those who voted for He Who Shall  Not Be Named (HWSNBN) are evil.

What I name as evil are the actions of those who have taken advantage of that anger and used it in a grab for power that will actually be harmful to those looking for a champion.

What I name as evil is the intentional roiling up of racism and xenophobia and making it acceptable to express in all its ugliness.

What I name as evil is the way that sexism – both blatant and subtle – undermined a candidate, purely because our entrenched patriarchy made it possible.

What I name as evil is lying with impunity, following the methodology of Minister of Propaganda of Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels: “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”

aslanI mourn the triumph of evil. I feel like Susan of The Chronicles of Narnia who, here with Lucy, mourns the binding and the death of Aslan. Over half of our nation is in mourning and we can’t ignore that or try to rush through it. Nor can we spout simplistic platitudes about coming together to heal the division. No, we must mourn a death.


The White Witch has won (I am painfully aware of the implications of the strong, powerful women being cast as a witch; it’s not hard to see how that progresses to bitch, etc. But that’s a subject for another post).

My point here is that the WW thinks that Aslan is dead and she has won. My slight revision of her taunt (“And now who has won? Fool, did you think that by all this you could save the (world)?” sounds a lot like some of the vitriol I’ve been hearing from triumphant supporters of HWSNBN.

But as readers of the book know, the story doesn’t end there. Aslan returns to life. Now don’t be stopped by the substitutionary atonement theology or even by bodily resurrection of a messiah figure. There is truth here for us.

“But what does it all mean,” asked Susan when they were somewhat calmer.
“It means,” said Aslan, “that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.”

If we look far back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, we will know that there is a force greater than whatever evil we may unleash. This is no simplistic platitude. It does not deny the reality of evil, nor the hard work of overcoming it. It does not promise easy answers or quick solutions. We have only to look to the atrocities of the  Holocaust and other ethnic cleansing in our own time to know that the arc of justice is long. But what we must remember is that it does bend toward justice.

Indeed, we have our work cut out for us. But we do not do it only through our own feeble efforts. There is a magic deeper still that goes back into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned. Call it what you will – God, Spirit, Universe, Tao, Divine Milieu, Wisdom, Cosmic Christ  – it is our refuge and our strength, an ever-present help in times of trouble. And it lives!aslan-roar-1140x532



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