But he is good

Today I re-watched The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and it was really a refreshing experience. Here and there I noted how the scenes actually echoed what Lewis has written elsewhere.

For example, when Susan and Peter talked to the Professor about how Lucy seemed to be talking out of sense with her world-inside-wardrobe story. The Professor asked about Lucy’s character (and actually asked about Edmund’s as well, whom Susan and Peter trusted this time while usually they would trust Lucy more than Edmund) and Susan confirmed that Lucy was usually an honest and trustworthy girl. And so the Professor replied, “If she was not mad and she was not lying, then she might be telling the truth.” Of course, this is the famous trilemma proposed by Lewis in his Mere Christianity to prove the divinity of Jesus: Since Jesus claimed that he was God, he is then either a lunatic, a liar, or indeed the Lord (Lewis capitalized the ‘l’ in Lion to denote Aslan, so you could take it as the fourth ‘l’). This trilemma has been counter-argued so many times since (e.g., by questioning the basic premise that Jesus claimed to be God, through re-interpretation of key phrases like Son of Man/Son of God), and highlighted the perpetual need of fresh Christian witness for every generation (i.e., to repeat Lewis identically will really miss the point).

Susan then argued back that what Lucy said was so illogical, and the Professor replied with a question: “What did they teach at school nowadays?” It echoed what Lewis wrote in his The Abolition of Man where he reflected on “education with special reference to the teaching of English in the upper forms of schools.”

Of all the echoes in the movie (I just realized that the witch echoed Pontius Pilate when she said, “Behold, the great lion!” before killing Aslan), the one that I liked the most and still held dear to this very day was the conversation between Mr. Tumnus and Lucy at the end of the movie when Lucy saw Aslan leaving the castle of Cair Paravel. Lucy was of course devastated at seeing Aslan’s departure, but Mr. Tumnus reminded her that it was the way with Aslan. We can’t force him to stay nor ask him to come whenever we wanted him to: “After all, he is not a tame lion.” And Lucy replied, “But he is good.”

More often than not we will be disappointed with things that happen in our life, especially if they are not according to our plan. In these cases, it is perhaps natural to ask “Why, God?” But then, we should be reminded that God, indeed, is not “a tame lion” who will bow down to every single wish of ours. We just can’t bend God to follow our will. Nevertheless, on the other hand, we can be rest assured that all things will work for good, as although he might be not a tame lion, he is good and faithful nonetheless.

He is not a tame lion; but he is good.

(A side note: Jesus spoke in parables to his audiences and I believe that there is a need of fresh parables and metaphors of God as well. “Not a tame lion” really registers in my mind. That’s one of the reasons why Lewis was so popular in his days, indeed he is until today, and why Tom Wright is dubbed as the new C. S. Lewis. Wright has the similar metaphor-generating capacity as Lewis.)

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