Narnia, Slavery, and Living in This World


Liam and I just finished reading The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe at night. I’m not sure how much he understands, but it’s soothing, and he does pay attention. He’s fascinated by the idea of Christmas not coming, the concept of turning people into stone, and Mr. Tumnus.

One other thing that he constantly asked about is whether the witch would turn out to be good. He’s at an age where he puts “nice” and “bad” in constant opposition. When we read about animals, he’ll ask, “Is this a nice shark or a bad shark?” meaning, I believe, “Does it eat people or not?”

He wants to group things into categories like, “Are lions nice?” or “Are owls nice?” He loves to discuss the things bad neighbors or bad drivers do and contrast them with the things good neighbors or good drivers do.

When we first met the White Witch in Narnia, Liam asked, “Is she nice or bad?” I told him she was bad. And he asked several times during the story, “Will she stay mean?” or “When will she turn nice?”

And I told him, “She won’t.”

I remember that feeling as a child. I used to pray for the devil, that he would love Jesus. I was at an age when I thought all our problems actually stemmed from Satan rather than from ourselves. So Satan’s change of heart seemed like the simplest solution.

And I think we still want evil to turn good. It makes for such a redemptive story.

But true evil can never be good. And until Jesus comes back, there will always be true evil in our world. The problem is, it’s not embodied in one person (like the White Witch). Rather it’s inside us and in our systems and in the things that we make.

I read an article the other day about the inconvenient things women have to do to stay safe in this world—things like walking past their homes if they think they are being followed or texting friends before they go on dates with strangers. I think of all the college rape cases and how we want to just pin the evil on a person or persons. We don't acknowledge that we are all capable of evil. Sometimes I think we forget that we will never live in a place where we are totally safe, where people can be completely trusted. That’s just not possible without Jesus. 

I’ve also been reading about racial tensions. I want to say they don’t exist. I want to say we’ve moved past that as a society.

But the Civil Rights protests and demonstrations weren’t that long ago—within my own parents’ lifetimes.

I read The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything and was reminded of how truly horrific slavery was. When people chose to enslave other people, to grow a nation by using slave labor, they signed on for the longterm effects of such sin. Sin is generational and cosmic in its effect.

This means we can’t just snap our fingers and say, “Ok! No more slaves! We’ll all get along now.” Rather our own sin and the sin in our systems makes this a hard injustice to resolve.

It seems depressing to end this by stating that evil will always be present in this broken world. After all, we aren’t called to just sit around and let evil flourish. We’re called to “make God’s blessings flow far as the curse is found.” But Narnia again gives us an important message. beaversnarnia

After Mr. Tumnus is captured by the Witch and most likely turned into stone, Lucy and her siblings want to go help. Obviously Lucy feels responsible because Mr. Tumnus was imprisoned for helping her. She wants to go help him immediately (as I think we all would!), but the beavers have a different response: 

“The quickest way you can help him is by going to meet Aslan,” said Mr. Beaver, “once he’s with us, then we can begin doing things.”

That's such a beautiful reminder when we don't know where to start!

Sometimes I feel bogged down in the evil and sin—not just the injustices and evil in our nation and world but the selfishness and injustice in my own heart too. Sometimes I feel like the problems are too big. I live in fear or in denial. But the first step is to go to Jesus. The quickest and best way we can help in this broken world is by going to Jesus. Only through him can we begin doing things.

And that’s the beauty of the Christian life! God chooses to use us—to use fallen humans to help bring redemption and justice and right the wrongs. He lets us help him in this grand work of healing, and even though it won’t be complete until he comes back, there is much good work to do now.

Sometimes my good work seems so small or insignificant--sometimes I think it's just cheerfully meeting the needs of the tiny humans God has given me--but any good work always starts and ends with going to meet Jesus as I parent, as I love others, and as I live in this world that isn't yet redeemed but will be one day.


P.S. If you haven't read The Kitchen House and Glory Over Everything, highly recommend them!