top of page
  • Writer's pictureGeorge Dutch

WAR! What is it Good For? (Part 2 of 2)

Materialism denies this “something infinitely more important,” denies the existence of supernatural or immaterial entities such as spirits, souls, or God.  But, for Lewis, the love of God is not only real but more real than our material world.  In his book, The Four Loves, Lewis defines the love of God as agape (from the Greek word meaning ‘brotherly love’) as a selfless love that flows from humans to God because it first flows from God to humanity.  He distinguishes this love from romantic or erotic love, or love of family, or affection for friends; it is a covenant love—a kind of Deep Magic--between God and humans that stands above the ordinary fray of human justice (which is always unjust because both the judgers and the judged are imperfect and vulnerable).

Lewis believed war and all other great social evils cannot be eliminated by rational human solutions alone.

Aslan returns to remind all of Narnia that “a future and a hope” is a promise given by someone outside of time—someone who knows the end of it.  That someone is referred to by Mr. Beaver as Aslan’s father, the Great Emperor Beyond the Sea.  Aslan is willing to bind this covenant with his own blood.  He strikes a deal with the White Witch and submits to her dagger and death if she will spare Edmund’s life.

Lewis defines the love of God as agape (from the Greek word meaning ‘brotherly love’) as a selfless love that flows from humans to God because it first flows from God to humanity.  

This is the sacrificial love at the root of a Christian concept of justice because agape is a love that originates from God, one that has aligned traditionally with a special concern for the despised and disinherited, the poor and suffering, the ignorant and unsophisticated, the broken and beaten. Even the underserving, like Edmund, the betrayer of brother and sister, are worthy of fair and just treatment because Aslan’s love for Edmund, a stranger, a neighbour, is rooted in his love for the Emperor who has made each creature precious and worthy of love.    



This doesn’t mean that war, racism, militarism, poverty, injustice, or infanticide magically disappear.  Lewis believed war and all other great social evils cannot be eliminated by rational human solutions alone.  This highly educated scholar did not believe that education can save the human race.  Not that education is bad, far from it, but that education cannot save us from the human inclination to look at other human beings as objects to manipulate, mutilate or murder to get what we want individually or collectively.  The destruction of the human soul, for Lewis, is a much greater evil than the destruction of the material human body. 

This is the sacrificial love at the root of a Christian concept of justice because agape is a love that originates from God, one that has aligned traditionally with a special concern for the despised and disinherited, the poor and suffering, the ignorant and unsophisticated, the broken and beaten.

For all humans, including the Pevensies, the two impulses of fear and hope, wage an invisible war inside them and they must choose which one to listen to and act on.  Like Britain, Narnia too is under attack both physically and spiritually.  When Aslan rises from the dead, he inspires the children to fight a great battle against the army of the White Witch to claim their thrones.  The Pevensies realize that their only hope to defeat the evil witch is to rise above their selfish human inclinations and follow the great lion—and, of course, Christians will recognize this biblical reference to Jesus Christ, the Lion of Judah, who descended from King David of the tribe of Judah, one of the 12 tribes of ancient Israel.



In Narnia, the Pevensies listen to and act on the voice of Aslan, a strong courageous voice announcing a future and a hope.  We encounter a war not strictly between forces of good and evil but also for the souls of these children and a life after death.

 

GEORGE DUTCH is Associate Artistic Director and Dramaturge for 9th Hour Theatre Company


Read Part 1 of "WAR! What is it Good For?"

Listen to George discuss the story's themes on the Telling The Story podcast.

Recent Posts

See All

A Story Woven Between Worlds

In the dimly lit theatre, as children of all ages (young and young at heart) excitedly take their seats, anticipating the return of Aslan...

Comments


Commenting has been turned off.
bottom of page