Love and Knowledge: The Keys to Being All That We Are Intended to Be

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In contrast to Mark, the N.I.C.E people who inhabit Belbury are quite the opposite of Ransom and his saintly crew of people up at Saint Anne’s.  The Deputy Director, Dr. John Withers, of N.I.C.E and some of the other leaders like Frost and Miss Hardcastle are people who are in various stages of altering their humanity.  For example, Withers is a very distorted human being because he has become an initiate to the Macrobes, and he is a man in service to the Other Side.  Frost, the man who gives Jane nightmares, is also an initiate, and he has taken on the bright, pointy look of someone one would expect to be under demonic control.  Miss Hardcastle is a lesbian, who prefers young girls, and it is her pedophilia and her desire for undue power in the structure of N.I.C.E. which makes her into the monstrosity she becomes (344).  All of these people have turned their humanity over to the Other Side, and they have become monstrously distorted image bearers who are losing their knowledge of self and of God due to their own desires and wishes, and it is their own cravings for power which turn them into seemingly inhuman creatures. At this juncture, Lewis argues that in order for people to truly know themselves, they first must experience God’s love, which Jane and Mark finally do together when Mark goes to meet Jane at the hotel at the end of the novel.

In the remaining two books of this exploration, Lewis continues to explore God’s love in The Magician’s Nephew and The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  In these novels, Aslan lovingly creates Narnia and then returns to Narnia much later after evil has had its traumatic impact on all of Narnia and on the sons and daughters of Adam and Eve.  In The Magician’s Nephew, Digory and Polly, the two English children, are sent into other worlds courtesy of Uncle Andrew’s magic rings, and Digory rings the bell and wakes up Queen Jadis and ultimately brings evil into the newly born world of Narnia

( 56). At this point in the story Polly and Digory are fighting with each other over whether or not to ring the bell. Ironically, Digory is the one who chooses to ring the bell.   However, the ushering in of the potential for evil is not the focus of The Magician’s Nephew; rather, Lewis would have us focus on the lion, the being who brings a barren planet to life simply by singing and changing his melody in order to create different kinds of life in Narnia.  Then, when the animals are created, the lion moves among them, two by two; some he passes by, and some he touches his nose with theirs-those whom he touches become speaking animals, and it is these animals whom he commands, ” Narnia, Narnia, Narnia.  Awake. Love. Think. Speak.  Be Walking Trees.  Be Talking Beasts.  Be Divine Waters” (126).  The immediate response from all the creatures the lion touches is, “Hail, Aslan.  We hear and obey.  We are awake.  We love.  We think.  We speak.  We know”(127).  Finally, we hear Aslan named in unison by all the members of his creation who can speak.

One of the first things that Aslan does in Narnia is create a sense of order and structure for his creatures to follow.  He admonishes his speaking animals to treat the non-speaking animals graciously or their gift of speech will be removed from them.  Also, he helps the children recognize him as a good and loving creature, and the children see and understand, but Uncle Andrew only hears the animals making animal sounds (Chapter 10).   The Witch knows what is happening and tries to destroy Aslan, but when she throws the lantern at Aslan, nothing happens to him, so she flees the scene of the crime (116).

Next, when the children are flown to the beautiful garden with the scented tree in the middle of it, we see Lewis recreating Eden, and in this Eden, Digory, in other words, Adam, though tempted by the Witch, does not fail Aslan, and he returns with the apple. The apple once planted becomes a fruit-bearing tree which in turn becomes a means to keep the Witch far away from Narnia for centuries due to the way in which good and its scent affects her.

Fortunately, the children are affected quite differently than Uncle Andrew because they recognize who Aslan is; they are drawn to his love, and they obey him. Unfortunately, Uncle Andrew is unable to recognize that which is holy, and Aslan recognizes his inability to know him, but Aslan doesn’t destroy Uncle Andrew or treat him unkindly; instead, Aslan just sends him back to London as an old man who has funny stories to tell about a “dem fine woman” he met on another planet (200). The most compelling example of how Digory is changed is when Digory brings the apple back to his mother who experiences immediate healing, and his family is made whole and well again (197).  In addition, Polly returns to her family, and she and Digory remain the best of friends. In essence, Polly and Digory are new people because they know who God is, and they love Him as the originator of the universe and the all powerful being who loved them enough to restore them to their own world; thus, their lives are visibly different upon their return to London.  Also, they have become the kinds of image bearers that God wants all of his children to be; they are renewed in God’s love and invigorated to love Him and serve Him and others.