Sunday, August 12, 2007

Lions and Aliens and Christians, Oh My!: C.S. Lewis Kicks Butt.

I am working my way through finishing C.S. Lewis's book-length works.
C.S. Lewis has been in my blood for a decade, both because he is a great storyteller and a pretty darn well-reasoned spokesperson for Orthodox Christianity. But what does that have to do with LOST? Well... In both the Chronicles of Narnia and the Ransom trilogy (which I'll be talking about), a great mythological world that seems, in some ways,very unlike our own, teaches Christian morality and belief in action without reducing it to 10 commandments or a Golden Rule. It's harder to pin that sort of thing down on Lost and it definitely has less of a clear message about what the "right thing to do" is, but I think there are some interesting points of contacts nonetheless. Let's dive in....

The Ransom Trilogy makes the most sense. In the first book, Out of the Silent Planet, Ransom travels to Mars, meets and befriends its fauna, and gets to know about the way God (who in this case is pretty Christian) works on other planets. But not in a hokey "everything is like Earth" way, but rather in a "Maybe Earth is a little bit less in tune with God than other planets"...which actually in some way or another, seems to be a pretty loud tune in SF. In the second book Perelandra, Ransom is charged with the duty of protecting Venus's ethereal Adam and Eve from their own Fall. He is successful, and Venus looks like its shaping up to be a very different world than fallen Earth.

But the most relevant book, and the last, That Hideous Strength, takes place right here on Earth. That Hideous Strength finds Ransom back on earth, preparing to manage an interplanetary response to the threat of apocalypse. The devil's arrival, it seems, is about to come at the hands of overeager scientists and academics who really messing with the natural order, some knowingly and some because of their own ignorance and disconnectedness from the real world. They are a pretty nasty bunch of academics, lets say. Eventually, albeit briefly, Ransom gets Merlin on his side and calls down the gods (from their corresponding planets) to foil their plans. Merlin and the gods as ancient magic are neutral, so its okay that the Christian heroes co-opt them. Which, needless to say, I love, since it takes a big man (LEWIS!) to really celebrate the reality of non-Christian elements being important in the Christian tradition....

Which, to come back to LOST , seems apt in a world where Christian(Eko of course, and others by way of their virtues...and by allusion in the show) and Pagan(The Island) have to put down their own suspicions of each other to fight something more evil than they seem to each other. At least I hope that's what is going to have to happen with the Losties and the Others. Yep. And maybe it goes with my continuing feeling that Dharma really wasn't up to any good, and the purge might have actually been justified. Although I don't think Clive Staples would have been on board with that. Anyways, the point that those who are calling the shots aren't always the good guys and make it hard sometimes for you to see how bad they are, is an important one.
But in the end, in the very end, someone good is going to call the shots. Kapish? Hm. Just read it.

Narnia is a little bit less clear, since it is, after all, a children's story. Since it is in another time-space... and Carlton has said something to that effect. I felt a connection most seriously in "The Man Behind The Curtain" actually. In The Last Battle there is a False-Aslan (a donkey put in an Aslan suit by a tricksy monkey, seriously) which people are mistakenly worshiping, and Narnia is falling apart. People who believe in him are wrong, people who don't believe in him decide not to believe in Aslan at all, the southern people who believe in Tash instead of Aslan (thinly veiled Muslims) are arguing about his meaning....and Aslan is nowhere to be found.
Plus the Monkey cultivates everyone's reverence for the False Aslan by way of smoke and mirrors and complicated ritual, which real Aslan didn't need.

So when Ben was getting all up in Locke's face being like "I'm going to take you to see Jacob" and everyone was all "ooh Jacob! We've never seen him but we here he's pretty great," I was pretty skeptical about him--I know Wizard of Oz came first but if Jacob is the Island/the Island God/imaginary or false Island-God or what have you, he has a lot more in common with Aslan/False-Aslan than with little Mr. Marvel. But we saw Jacob...right? I'm not ready to believe Jacob is what people think he is, or if he is, Darlton and Co. did a pretty good making it hard to tell what he is. It's not a one-one correlation,but The Last Battle does focus on what the Followers think and do with regards to their Leader as much as on what that leader is. And isn't that we've been watching the Others do for the last season?

Well--I know I haven't done justice to my favorite guy in the world, so, seriously, read his books.
He balances myth-making and very serious meaning really really well. Sort of like LOST!

What's coming up?
Well--I guess I took a little break to read comics. Our Mutual Friend and The Fountainhead are still being slogged through, and I'm reading the Time Quartet, and school is starting! But we've got a bunch of hiatus to go, and plenty of books to read, both long and short and Stephen King-y.
Plus we've started The Prisoner. So creepy. So...
Be Seein' You!

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