Saturday, July 6, 2013

CREATION (part 4)

So in the past few posts, we've covered what Lewis's basic theology was with Creation.  But the more important topic to focus on is what we should do with creation.  This, I think, is what Lewis's main point was throughout his Narnia books.


This creation invokes response.  While it may seem like a nice idea that the world was created merely for our pleasure, Lewis understood that there is an appropriate response through our actions and relationships with others.  

The Magician’s Nephew demands that the reader see the physical world as a created world.  It demands that the reader respond to the creation, and to the creator.”[1]  The created world holds a purpose through right relationships with one another and with God.  This is explained by “the biblical understanding of God as Creator [which] is primarily concerned not with his creative act of bringing the world into being, but rather with his ongoing involvement in and with his creation.”[2]  

Not only is there a reaction to the vastness of creation, but also that the grand Creator wants a relationship with the created beings.  Lewis supposed that “the relation between Creator and creature is, of course, unique, and cannot be paralleled by any relations between one creature and another.”[3]  It is a special relationship that is communicated to the reader by Lewis’s depiction of Aslan with his created beings.

For the created beings, there are basically two responses to creation: use it or abuse it.  In his book, The World According to Narnia, Jonathan Rogers explains these two responses in the form of the characters Digory, the adventurer, and Uncle Andrew, the magician.  

Digory used creation properly, opening himself up to experience it.  “The world is always full of surprises,” and “the adventurer is always open to uncertainty.”[4]  This is evident in the way Digory responded to new adventures, such as searching for Polly after Uncle Andrew made her vanish or going to retrieve the apple as instructed by Aslan later in the novel.  He is prepared for something new, and does not shrink away from the thought of being a part of something like Uncle Andrew.  

When Digory suggested that Uncle Andrew try the rings on himself to experience this new world he was searching for, the response evoked was surprise and offense.  He retorted “Me? Me? The boy must be mad!...Do you realize what you’re saying? Think what Another World means – you might meet anything – anything.”[5]  Uncle Andrew’s self-preservation trumped any empathy he could have for another person.  Digory’s response was one which allowed him to set aside his fears and put others’ well-being before his own. 

Uncle Andrew on the other hand is presented as an abuser.  He had a drive “to manipulate Nature for one’s own ends”[6] with no regard for the effects it may have on others.  He explained to Digory that his earlier experiments were failures because some of the guinea pigs exploded.  When Digory’s first response is “It was a jolly cruel thing to do,”[7] Uncle Andrew was quick to note that is not the point.  Uncle Andrew was looking to be praised for his worthwhile experiment, while Digory is concerned for the guinea pigs.  Even when Digory questions the severity of sending subjects to an unknown land, Uncle Andrew tells him he needs to stop “looking at everything from the wrong point of view.”[8]  This further exemplifies that Uncle Andrew’s views of life and creation as a whole is skewed.  

Perhaps Lewis was representing the wrongful use of science through the depictions of Uncle Andrew in his novel as one who does not see people and animals as creations to enjoy, but rather sees “everything in the world – including people – [as] an object to be manipulated.”[9]  This is why he treated Polly just the same as the guinea pigs by sending them off to another world with no regard for how it would affect them.  He was only concerned with the benefits it could bring him as a magician.  

Because of this reliance on magic, Uncle Andrew and Jadis are depicted as the villains of the beginning of Narnia.  “The very essence of evil is the impulse to wield magical powers.”[10]  This response to creation is easy to see as the wrong choice.  As aforementioned, Lewis often depicted reason in opposition to nature; likewise, there is a contrast of the theme “magic versus true creativity.”[11]  This magic yielded through Uncle Andrew and Jadis created problems and evil in creation, while Digory and Polly clearly had genuine creativity by nature while seeking to do good through their adventures.

[1] Rogers, 131.
[2] H.F. Marlow, “Creation Theology,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Prophets, eds. Mark J. Boda and J. Gordon McConville (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2012), 106.
[3] C. S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, 1st Touchstone Ed. (New York: Touchstone Books, 1996), 37.
[4] Rogers, 132.
[5] Lewis, Magician’s Nephew, 21.
[6] Rogers, 131.
[7] Lewis, Magician’s Nephew, 21.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Rogers, 134.
[10] Ibid, 132.
[11] Donald E. Glover, C. S. Lewis: the Art of Enchantment (Athens, OH: Ohio Univ Pr, 1981), 172.

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