CS Lewis (Was: Favourite books)

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Tue Dec 14 19:02:55 EST 2004

Dorian wrote:

>Minnow said...
>> The bit that got to me was the bit at the end of *The Last Battle* when
>> the
>> Calormene soldier meets Aslan, and Aslan tells him, as near as makes no
>> odds, that it isn't what you *say* you are worshipping but whether you
>> behave in good ways in the process that makes the difference.  I took this
>> (at about age 8, I suppose) to mean that God was God was God and it didn't
>> matter what we call Her, or to put it another way that a good Muslim was
>> better than a bad Christian as far as God was concerned.  That was
>> probably
>> the message I took away from the Narnia books more than any other, in
>> fact.
>Well, yeah.  "Evil done in the name of Good is still evil.  Good done in the
>name of Evil is still good."  Quite a lot of people in this world of ours
>could stand to remember that, I often think.  Or to get down to brass tacks:
>"It's not what you say, it's what you do."

It also gets one neatly out of arguments about the end justifying the
means, most times.  OTOH, I have an on-going and probably perpetual
argument with someone about whether motive can ever be an excuse when
someone fouls up: I reckon that if someone is doing their best and means no
ill, but because of something they didn't happen to know things go Horribly
Wrong, I find their failure more excusable even if the results are
appalling than I find someone who does something all wrong through not
caring or because s/he enjoys others' pain.

>Though "The Last Battle" is still my least favourite of the seven.

It has a couple of fine things in it, but mostly they're fine *dark*
things.  The bit about Aslan having come back and not being how Jewel and
Rillian expected him to be, where Jewel says "As if one had a drink of
water and it was *dry* water" (don't have the book here, but that's the
gist) still catches me somewhere that hurts; and the dwarves shooting the
horses because they don't want either side to win is powerful and horrid.

>>>Oh, absolutely.  "Always winter and never Christmas", for instance, is an
>>>image to strike dread into any heart!
>> Well, apart from those of us on the list who either don't celebrate or
>> don't enjoy Christmas.
>Replace "Christmas" with "Midwinter festival of your choice", please.  I
>left the phrase intact because it was a quotation; I don't myself celebrate

I was remembering someone on the list last year feeling very strongly about
the whole "of course you celebrate Christmas!" assumption that got made at
her, and resenting it bitterly.

>To me the very basic point of whatever most Northern Hemisphere
>people are celebrating at this time of year is "hurray, the year has turned;
>longer days, spring, renewal, etc. are coming so let's give them a hand
>along with celebrations and encouraging candles and so forth".  And without
>meaning to offend the Christians on the list, I do think you can (or at
>least I can) boil Christmas down to fairly much that - the birth of the
>Saviour has to be the start of the renewal, no?

Even if it means one has to decide on no evidence whatever that He got
Himself born on the Midwinter Day festival, yes.

>> Always winter is a bit daunting, I agree, because after a
>> year or so everyone would presumably start to starve.
>Depending on how much of a stockplie they had, yes.

One would probably have to go on short commons about eight months after the
end of September, at a guess.  I suppose there are winter crops, like
turnips and such, but scurvy would become a very real danger after a while,
and rickets too.  Not a good prospect.

"Always Winter and never Candlemas" would be more accurate as regards the
seasons, really, because winter really gets started after Christmas in
England quite often, so Christmas isn't honestly the start of the new
year's growth and hope.  Never mind.  I do see what you mean, and the
quibbles and niggles don't negate it, they're just fine-tuning the idea a


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