CS Lewis’ Narnia Tales have been read the world over by generations of children and parents alike.
May I humbly suggest that the iconic figure of Aslan, the great Lion is the great draw for adult and child alike. Lions are like that. Majestic, strong, yet unpredictable they fascinate us as long as we’re not to close to them for we may inadvertently become lunch.
Aslan, has come from the Great Emperor beyond the seas, the Transcendent Other from who all the worlds of space-time have flowed. He bridges heaven and Earth, revealing the Divine desire for communion and realignment. Intimate, yet brutally honest with those who serve him, Aslan is an icon that draws us toward the Mystery of Divine Love. And yet he is not a tame Lion, good yes, but not tame.
Isn’t it strange then that Lewis’ Great Lion has been adopted by evangelical Christianity as a symbol of Yeshua, bar Yosef, the Nazarene prophet-teacher, known in common religious parlance as ‘The Christ’. Forgive me, but I sense a great irony lurking around this adoption of the Lion to push the standard evangelical message.
Well, I reckon that evangelical Christianity and its many offshoots are actually very safe. Please let me explain.
The obsession of much of our evangelical take on the life of the Nazarene, is certainty. Countless books have been written to shore up the historicity of the Galilean holy man. poor old Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian has been quoted to death by Christian apologists over the centuries.
Evangelicals are certain that Yeshua’s death and resurrection can be formulated as a substitutionary atonement for sin, that dysfunction of human sin that has separated us now and possibly for ever from Divine Love.
Aslan converts are certain that everything can be seen in black and white; one either surrenders their life to the evangelical Christ or remains a dupe of the Devil, the antithesis of all that Christ stands for.
Certainty has subtly become the god of the evangelical rather than the person of the Nazarene. He has been cleaned up, shaken down and repackaged by Modern scientific reasoning. There is no room for Mystery in our simplistic presentation of the Christ.
The Great Lion has been shaved of his unpredictability, caged and put on show in Sunday morning auditoriums all around the world. No longer allowed to roar, the Lion has to express itself through the texts of Holy Writings, carefully explained by those who have no great taste for his Lionish ways.
Yes the domestication of the Great Aslan has well and truly taken place. The Nazarene has been well and truly put in his sacred place, only allowed to give an occasional nod of approval to our religious rituals and practices.
May I be allowed to interpret such a shocking captivity in terms that the great Lewis penned. We, his followers, have tied the Great Lion down on our own Stone Table of interpretation, producing the knife of our sacrificial violence before dispatching him into the coffin of our belief.
Thank God for the Deeper Magic! The shocking but liberation Truth that Divine Love in all its manifestations cannot lie buried under the weight of orthodox or heretical theology.
Today, the Great Lion is shaking his mane and doing his thing.
The ascended Yeshua isn’t tame but he is good.
Best dive into the Mystery and try to keep up.