This post is a continuation of Reading with Little Bit: The Chronicles of Narnia by Alexis Record.
“Aslan is a horrible jerk.”
“What’s a worse word than jerk, Mom?”
“I’ll tell you when you’re older.”
Lucy’s experience with Aslan is every Christian’s dream. She’s described as having a changed face with eyes that shone, similar to Moses after seeing God. She says Aslan wants them to follow him, but she can’t say why or how she knows. She just knows, y’all. She knows. Like when you ask for evidence of someone’s personal belief system and they say, “I can just tell you what I feel deep down in my heart.” (But everyone else who has the same human feelings about their mutually exclusive religions are crazy, right?)
Aslan’s path to the battle is by far the hardest. So they take a vote and only Lucy and Edmund vote to follow Jesus… I mean Aslan. They start on the easier path while Lucy cries like a banshee and Aslan watches them while continuing his hide-and-seek game.
Because Aslan, as we will learn, is a dick.
Did anyone besides me sing, “I have decided to follow Jesus” in church growing up? “Though I may wander, still I will follow. Though none go with me, still I will follow. No turning back, no turning back.”
Not only is Aslan not speaking to Lucy in a way that makes sense, he’s also freaking invisible to everyone but Lucy, and then only briefly visible to Lucy. His instructions and his intentions are cryptic as crap. He couldn’t just appear and say “follow me.” Oh no. He has to toy with them like… well, like a cat I suppose. So they follow logic instead of Lucy’s brief vision insanity and are punished with paragraph after paragraph of horrible struggles on their journey. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to trust that the LORD knows what’s best for you and to not trust your own understanding with the promise that if you submit to him he’ll “make your path straight.” Well, their path was nothing good so it’s proof they did not submit to Aslan’s vagueness. (I’m sure they knew what he wanted “deep down.”)
They get back where they started and Lucy is called by name in the middle of the night. With no witnesses. In the dark. (She’s how old again?) She obediently follows the voice calling her name, and it’s Aslan. She runs to him and does not stop even though he’s scary (and she doesn’t know if he’s good or bad, the book says) because thinking is not how this works. Lucy tells Aslan that she wanted to follow him but her siblings were stubborn. He starts to growl at her for her remark, and since she “understood some of his moods” she apologized immediately. That kind of emotional labor sounds exhausting, but she’s basking in his glory and doesn’t seem to mind these controlling and awkward emotional manipulations his moods produce.
Aslan is extremely capricious.
Then Aslan confirms it was all her fault for not abandoning her family and running towards him. He wanted her to leave them and follow him.
“What is Aslan thinking? It’s her family! That’s mean.” Little Bit is a lot bit outraged at this point. Of course Aslan is Lewis’ Jesus-in-disguise so to quote everyone’s favorite Christian messiah:
“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever is not working with me is working against me.” (Matthew 12:30)
Or this gem:
“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son… mother against daughter…” (Luke 12:51-53)
For the follower of Jesus it’s promised that their “enemies will be the members of their own household.” (Matthew 10:36)
In the same way, Aslan tells Lucy to go back to her family and wake them up from sleep and tell them to follow him.
“Will the others see you too?” asked Lucy.
“Certainly not at first,” said Aslan. “Later on, it depends.”
“But they won’t believe me!” said Lucy.
“It doesn’t matter,” said Aslan.
She apologizes and obeys even though she thinks the idea is horrid. And it is. And her siblings are about to get very cross with her. (This is every evangelism effort, y’all.)
Aslan says to tell the other to follow, and, “If they will not, then you at least must follow me alone.”
Lucy’s response is, “I mustn’t think about it, I must just do it.”
“No,” says Little Bit, “you should always think about it. You shouldn’t just follow orders you know are wrong.” She’s right. This is how cults work. Follow the leader, but don’t use your own reasoning. Trust the leaders before they prove their trust to you. You will be tested until you can do this without effort.
My Accelerated Christian Education took this to an extreme. If an adult in charge told us to do something absolutely ridiculous we were to obey without hesitation. We even had to submit to physical abuse at school. My examples are the extreme, but all those little manipulative religious steps in the middle led to it. As a tweet I saw a few days ago summed up nicely, “If you don’t like your religion’s fundamentalists, then maybe there’s something wrong with your religion’s fundamentals.” (#twitterwisdom)
When Lucy tries to wake Susan, Susan tells her that she’s dreaming and to go back to bed. Edmund is the closest to having true faith and believes her initially when she says she sees him, but the lion goes invisible for no reason when Edmund looks that direction. They wake the others and Susan is just not having it, “She’s been dreaming. Do lie down and go to sleep, Lucy.” Trumpkin predictably has no use for talking lions that don’t actually talk and can’t be seen, but he obeys without question as a matter of duty. (His mindless obedience will be rewarded, but his wise crack about having no use for invisible lions gets punished by Aslan later.)
Peter finally gives the okay to follow Lucy’s invisible lion, who has started to get impatient and is beating his paw on the ground for them to hurry up. But Susan is still the worst. That’s not editorializing, the book says, “Susan was the worst.” That’s a sentence pulled whole from its pages. She asks the group what would happen if she behaved like Lucy and is told to just obey. Seriously, Trumpkin tells her off for not shutting up and obeying Peter. Susan continues to mumble as the journey becomes difficult so Peter says, “Why, a baby could get down here. And do stop grousing.”
Very slowly Edmund begins to see Aslan. Peter sees him next, and then finally Susan. But it’s worse than that, because Susan always believed it was Aslan, wait for it, “deep down.”
Susan admits, “I really believed it was him – he, I mean – yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside.”
Is C. S. Lewis for real right now? Is this the Lewis version of the biblical idea, “The fool says in his heart there is no Aslan?” What could possibly be her motivation? Lewis has her saying, “I just wanted to get out of the woods and – and – oh, I don’t know.” That’s her entire defense. She was just willfully wrong for no reason and doesn’t know why. Who does that? (Spoiler: we’re supposed to think atheists do that.)
Romans 1 talks about how unbelievers “suppress the truth” of God. Why? Because they just don’t wanna believe the truth, and that’s totes how believing works. (When I want to rob a bank I just simply stop believing in laws against theft.) The passage goes on to say, “[Unbelievers] knew God, but they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.” To quote one commentary on this by the website Crossway, “If what Paul says in Romans 1 is true, there is ultimately no such thing as an atheist. Whatever they believe about themselves, the God who made them says otherwise, and we must believe God rather than man.”
That’s right! If someone is telling you their actual thinking process, don’t believe them! They are liars for no reason! Because God!
The leap of logic here being that God himself supposedly made this claim. Sure, he used a missionary man who believed in God and had an agenda to convert others to belief in God to do the actual Bible writing there, but just ignore that. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain because THE ALL-POWERFUL WIZARD SAYS SO.
As an atheist I assure all believers out there that I am not suppressing some secret belief. That’s ridiculous and extremely offensive. There have been times I’ve even wanted to believe, but couldn’t force a belief with illogical apologetics and a complete dearth of evidence. What kind of idiotic thing would it be for me to say I don’t believe something that I actually do? What is the purpose of that? I don’t play games like that. I don’t make my intentions vague, I don’t make people guess at my true beliefs, and I don’t test people’s faith. Never confuse me with a sick cult leader or invisible lion.
Aslan has shown himself to be a huge bully. Next he decides to be evil with poor Trumpkin. Aslan uses a loud voice with a roar in it when speaking to him for the first time in order to terrify the poor Dwarf. The book clarifies that the children “knew Aslan well enough” to know he was messing with him and actually liked him, but Trumpkin was greatly disturbed. Aslan then pounced him, picked him up to where he was “hunched up in a little, miserable ball,” shook him until his armor rattled, and threw him up in the air. And just to add madness to the mix, Aslan says out of nowhere, toying with him, “Shall we be friends?” The bully! Trumpkin was too upset to respond so Aslan ignores him and starts ordering the boys and Trumpkin off to kill humans with Caspian and orders the girls to stay with him. They didn’t dare ask him what the plan was and instead just obeyed as they had been conditioned to do.
So what does Aslan do with the girls once he’s sent the guys away? Two words: drunken orgy. (I’m not joking.)