Good Political Leadership According to Narnia

I made the statement almost by accident to some of my grad students: Narnia has a pretty sophisticated political philosophy, especially when you consider it is written for children.

As soon as I said it, I knew it to be true.

Just look at the outline of a number of the books:

  • The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is about the question of whether the Queen is the rightful ruler of Narnia or a usurper; much of the action of the book is political intrigue at the wake of her overthrow and the securing of the Pevensie children as rightful rulers
  • Prince Caspian is also a political intrigue, as Miraz has murdered the Telmarine king of Narnia thus displacing Prince Caspian from his place in succession to the throne; much of the book from the Narnian perspective is about the question of loyalty to Caspian and the old stories of Narnia, while the Pevensie children are learning the lesson of listening to Aslan so that when they land in the midst of the ensuing civil war they can recognize true Narnian leadership
  • The Voyage of the Dawn Treader begins with a secure crown, but the king turns to his responsibilities as emperor; with the goal of returning loyal Narnian courtiers from their exile under Miraz the Usurper, Caspian X and his crew break up a local economy based on slavery and sets a new governor in place; in the end, King Caspian’s greatest test is the question of what kind of leader he wants to be
  • The Silver Chair is entirely about a powerful witch who played a very long game to overthrow Narnia by first murdering Caspian X’s queen, then enthralling the heir to the throne, and then preparing an army of earthmen who will break out of the soil and overthrow the people of Narnia while the aged king is at sea and the counsel of the king has grown cautious and weary
  • The Horse and His Boy is about a stolen prince raised as a peasant and the subtleties of dealing with a corrupt and powerful regime next door; there are powerful lessons of political leadership for all levels of ruler at all kinds of courts in this Narnian tale
  • While The Magician’s Nephew looks like the least political book, it is about a queen-mage of another realm who ends her world rather than admitting defeat in civil war; after a failed attempt to overthrow the rulers of earth—she has some problems with scale there—she inserts herself into the fabric of Narnia and sets up her future tyranny; in The Magician’s Nephew Aslan sets up both the structure of kingship and queenship in Narnia—that a human should rule—and crowns the first king and queen
  • The Last Battle is about the last king of Narnia and the question of what authentic Aslan rule looks like; after several mistakes, the lines of allegiance are drawn clearly and we see the model of a political ruler with his back to the wall; while we don’t want to forget the lessons of heaven and beauty, any student of history will see the complexities of policy in this book

That brief summary does justice to each of the stories while highlighting the political realities in the books. Narnia is about what it means to lead well and what it means to follow well. While you will not find much of today’s right-left tension in Narnia—the social problems in fairyland and Arthurian romance are not exactly the same as ours—you will find throughout Narnia a calling to the centre of what it meant to be an ethical political leader.

This is what makes Narnia so subversive as political texts. It suggests that great leadership is a certain kind of great followership. Here is an exchange from the 11th chapter of The Magician’s Nephew. Aslan is addressing the first king and queen of Narnia. When the king objects to the idea of him being worthy, here is how Aslan responds:

“Well,” said Aslan,”can you use a spade and a plough and raise food out of the earth? … Can you rule these creatures kindly and fairly, remembering that they are not slaves like the dumb beasts of the world you were born in, but Talking Beasts and free subjects? … And would you bring up your children and grandchildren to do the same? … And you wouldn’t have favourites either among your own children or among the other creatures or let any hold another under or use it hardly? … And if enemies came against the land (for enemies will arise) and there was war, would you be the first in the charge and the last in the retreat?”

The quality of good leadership is embedded in this child-perspective version of a Presidential oath of office, but it is also revealed in the first King’s response. Moments earlier, he was a London Cabby; now he is being charged with the kingship of a new world. When asked if he would lead self-sacrificially in times of tension, the Cabby responds with humility:

“Well, sir,” said the Cabby very slowly, “a chap don’t exactly know till he’s been tried. I dare say I might turn out ever such a soft ‘un. Never did no fighting except with my fists. I’d try -that is, I ‘ope I’d try – to do my bit.”

I would suggest that we need in our world today the kind of leadership that Lewis espouses in Narnia. We have a drama coach with great hair ruling Canada, slowly discovering that he lacks the depth of being and perspicacity of his royal father. The leaders of France, Germany, and the UK are faced with the greatest refugee crisis since the last world war and they are lost in internal politics. It is clear that prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lost the plot when a fifth generation of Palestinians are living in concentration camps, antisemitism is on the rise, and his biggest announcement is that he has hacked into 15-year-old Iranian documents. One of the world’s greatest civilizations is still limping along under the control of megalomaniacal post-Soviet dictator intent on undermining Western politics–and capable of doing it in between shirtless photo ops. And the United States has elected in a free and open system a man who believes that women are material objects there to serve his interests and that anyone who disagrees with him is wrong because he is the prime arbiter of truth.

I think it is time to again hear the lessons of leadership from Narnia. Do any of the leaders mentioned above—some of the most powerful nations on earth and working across the political spectrum—strike you as people who know that good leadership is good followership, that political power is exercised in service to people and working alongside them for their good?

I don’t know that Narnian political leadership is possible in our generation. It may require poverty or war or necessity to cause the people—and these are all elected position—to ask again for integrity in leadership. But I still think that Lewis’ subversive commentary on good leadership is needed for us, today, if never at another time. I will leave the reader with another moment where the mantle of rule is being placed on another unworthy leader. This is the closing scene of The Horse and His Boy, where Prince Cor is tested by his father.


And presently, as was certain to happen sooner or later, King Lune said if was time for young people to be in bed. “And tomorrow, Cor,” he added, “shalt come over all the castle with me and see the estres and mark all its strength and weakness: for it will be thine to guard when I’m gone.”

“But Corin will be the King then, Father,” said Cor.

“Nay, lad,” said King Lune, “thou art my heir. The crown comes to thee.”

“But I don’t want it,” said Cor. “I’d far rather-“

“‘Tis no question what thou wantest, Cor, nor I either. ‘Tis in the course of law.”

“But if we’re twins we must be the same age.”

“Nay,” said the King with a laugh. “One must come first. Art Corin’s elder by full twenty minutes. And his better too, let’s hope, though that’s no great mastery.” And he looked at Corin with a twinkle in his eyes.

“But, Father, couldn’t you make whichever you like to be the next King?”

“No. The king’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king. Hast no more power to start away from thy crown than any sentry from his post.”

“Oh dear,” said Cor. “I don’t want to at all. And Corin – I am most dreadfully sorry. I never dreamed my turning up was going to chisel you out of your kingdom.”

“Hurrah! Hurrah!” said Corin. “I shan’t have to be King. I shan’t have to be King. I’ll always be a prince. It’s princes have all the fun.”

“And that’s truer than thy brother knows, Cor,” said King Lune. “For this is what it means to be a king: to be first in every desperate attack and last in every desperate retreat, and when there’s hunger in the land (as must be now and then in bad years) to wear finer clothes and laugh louder over a scantier meal than any man in your land.”

When the two boys were going upstairs to bed Cor again asked Corin if nothing could be done about it. And Corin said:

“If you say another word about it, I’ll – I’ll knock you down.”

It would be nice to end the story by saying that after that the two brothers never disagreed about anything again, but I am afraid it would not be true. In reality they quarrelled and fought just about as often as any other two boys would, and all their fights ended (if they didn’t begin) with Cor getting knocked down. For though, when they had both grown up and become swordsmen, Cor was the more dangerous man in battle, neither he nor anyone else in the North Countries could ever equal Corin as a boxer. That was how he got his name of Corin Thunder-Fist; and how he performed his great exploit against the Lapsed Bear of Stormness, which was really a Talking Bear but had gone back to Wild Bear habits. Corm climbed up to its lair on the Narnian side of Stormness one winter day when the snow was on the hills and boxed it without a time-keeper for thirty-three rounds. And at the end it couldn’t see out of its eyes and became a reformed character.

Aravis also had many quarrels (and, I’m afraid, even fights) with Cor, but they always made it up again: so that years later, when they were grown up, they were so used to quarrelling and making it up again that they got married so as to go on doing it more conveniently. And after King Lune’s death they made a good King and Queen of Archenland and Ram the Great, the most famous of all the kings of Archenland, was their son. Bree and Hwin lived happily to a great age in Narnia and both got married but not to one another. And there weren’t many months in which one or both of them didn’t come trotting over the pass to visit their friends at Anvard.

Advertisements

About Brenton Dickieson

“A Pilgrim in Narnia” is a blog project in reading and talking about the work of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and the worlds they touched. As a "Faith, Fantasy, and Fiction" blog, we cover topics like children’s literature, apologetics and philosophy, myths and mythology, fantasy, theology, cultural critique, art and writing. This blog includes my thoughts as I read through Lewis and Tolkien and reflect on my own life and culture. In this sense, I am a Pilgrim in Narnia--or Middle Earth, or Fairyland. I am often peeking inside of wardrobes, looking for magic bricks in urban alleys, or rooting through yard sale boxes for old rings. If something here captures your imagination, leave a comment, “like” a post, share with your friends, or sign up to receive Narnian Pilgrim posts in your email box. Brenton Dickieson is a father, husband, friend, university lecturer, and freelance writer from Prince Edward Island, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter, @BrentonDana.
This entry was posted in Original Research, Reflections and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

64 Responses to Good Political Leadership According to Narnia

  1. The wisdom of Christendom shining through – and oh so hierarchical. 🙂
    Great post – and Lewis’ humor is so good.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting! I’m not convinced of the virtues of royal leaders but I largely agree on the characteristics of what it means to be a good leader that Narnia promotes.

    However, I’m not sure that you are fully up-to-date on European politics. After bribing Turkey to stop most fugitives on their way to the EU, Europe is no longer facing the greatest refugee crisis since the last world war (although there is still aftermath to handle). At the time we were facing that crisis Merkel was not lost in internal politics, Macron was not yet elected and UK were watching from the side lines as they are not in the Schengen zone and could leave their problems to France.

    Liked by 1 person

    • While I live under a crown, I am a democrat in that sense. I have no personal longing for the days of benevolent dictatorship as so few dictators were even competent, let alone benevolent. Still, as future generations look back at us and ask how we could put up with liberal democratic capitalism, the truth is we can’t peak around the corners of the future. So I don’t mind slipping back mentally into other ages.
      Perhaps this isn’t the best forum for the debate of Europe. I’m not sure that parking human beings in Europe is a solution to a crisis, and solving the problem isn’t in placing people. Canada, for example, took 25,000 refugees from the group–a drop in the bucket but we are a less populous nation and further away (and that’s moving our normal 10,000 up to 25,000). But just getting people into a place isn’t a solution. It means strong leadership that prepares an entire culture to be a certain kind of people before the world. I appreciate some of the bright moments that Angela Merkel and Justin Trudeau showed in the midst of it, so I’m not totally against everyone. I just don’t think they are the people of substance needed for the Trump era.

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m Swedish so I don’t consider Canada a less populous country but I’m not really interested in discussing European politics either. It is is just that there already is too much misinformation surrounding the 2015 “refugee crisis” and while the leaders of France, Germany, and the UK may be lost in internal politics it is really a stretch to say that they are currently faced with the greatest refugee crisis since the last world war (although arguably Merkel is facing the aftermath of it). Especially for UK who as I said stood on the side lines and currently have much more pressing issues they ought to face.

        Liked by 2 people

      • The last time we had “people of substance” was in the mid twentieth century and they arose to confront the horror of Nazi conquest and the rebuilding of Europe after the conflict. Perhaps we have not reached a crisis serious enough for people to trust that kind of substantial person. Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

        Liked by 1 person

        • “The disciple of Jesus Christ is in the world, he has a social life, he is the citizen of a nation, he has a place in a family, he has a situation and he must work to earn money. His environment and his situation in that environment is the same as that of other men, he shares with other men the same nature and conditions. On the other hand, he cannot belong to this world (2Peter 1:13 and Hebrews 11:13), it is a temporary situation, he belongs to another Kingdom, he has another King, he derives his way of thinking from another source. He thinks in that Kingdom’s terms, that Kingdom’s traditions, he has that Kingdom’s criterion of discernment, judgement, actions, emotions and feelings. His spirit, his soul and his very thinking are elsewhere, his existence and life must be subversive to any worldly environment. It is possible to conform to the world and have a conformist attitude to its prince and its governments, and yet be a revolutionary. Here the idea of revolution is much deeper. The concern is not essentially to change the form of the presiding government but the underlying foundation and framework of its civilization. Change of this nature will lead indirectly to very deep political, economic and religious institutional changes but changes of this kind need not inevitably lead to a direct conflict with worldly authority, unless the latter insists on championing the disorder which exists and openly challenges the Truth of God.” [Jaques Ellul]

          Like

      • I do not know where, but this quote from Tolkien and it adds to the argument that leaders should be acquired from some other means than elections:

        “Yet our system obliges us to elevate to office precisely those persons who have the ego-besotted effrontery to ask us to do so; it is rather like being compelled to cede the steering wheel to the drunkard in the back seat loudly proclaiming that he knows how to get us there in half the time. More to the point, since our perpetual electoral cycle is now largely a matter of product recognition, advertising, and marketing strategies, we must be content often to vote for persons willing to lie to us with some regularity or, if not that, at least to speak to us evasively and insincerely. In a better, purer world—the world that cannot be—ambition would be an absolute disqualification for political authority.” —J.R.R. Tolkien

        Liked by 1 person

  3. joviator says:

    Alas, that kind of enlightened monarchy is unstable. A strong-arm bully who’s generous with bribes can easily amass a force sufficient for its overthrow. Lewis knew this perfectly well, of course: All of the books are about supernatural intervention to shove the system back to its desired state.

    Liked by 1 person

    • robstroud says:

      Exactly. Dynasties build on human bloodlines, conquests, or political caprice never last. God must always reset the government if it is to conform to his will, since we starting botching it all again the moment he removes his hands.

      Like

    • Enlightened monarchy may be ideal but no human is capable of living the ideal for very long. Lewis’s reference to democracy being necessary because of human fallenness (see below) is more than pertinent here.

      Like

    • Yes, for all Lewis liked the romantic and literary parts of royalty, he wasn’t overly enamoured with the practical applications of it in real life.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Yewtree says:

    I was thinking the other day that Prince Caspian (and The Last Battle to some extent) offer a comment on the destructive nature of colonialism, in that the true Narnians have to go into hiding to avoid persecution by the Telmarines, especially Doctor Cornelius with his high shoes. A metaphor for being forced to speak English and attend residential schools?

    Liked by 2 people

    • Steve says:

      Indeed, see my comment below. But it is Out of the silent planet that is most clearly anti-colonialist, with Devine channeling Cecil Rhodes. Prince Caspian is most notably anti-racist, thought OOTSP is too — instead of writing about races, Lewis does it with species, where the differences are far greater.

      Liked by 3 people

    • I have thought a lot about those kinds of things but haven’t written on them. Lewis makes a good postcolonial study partly because of his surprising critique and partly because of what he implicitly accepted.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Steve says:

    When I quite recently reread Prince Caspian, and a commentary on it, Inside Prince Caspian, I was struck more than in any of my previous readings by the political implications, I know you’ve seen it, but I mention it for comparison purposes. I think it goes a long way beyond leadership qualities. Inside Prince Caspian | Khanya.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. robstroud says:

    Reading this fine essay immediately brought to my mind the Narnian model which corresponds most closely to the norm in our world. That would be hypocrisy, in the form of claiming to be what our sovereigns are not. (And I use the word sovereign here to cover all those in power, even in so-called democracies and republics.)

    “O Lord Shift, mouthpiece of Aslan,” said the chief Calormene. “We bring you prisoners. By our skill and courage and by the permission of the great god Tash we have taken alive these two desperate murderers.”

    “Give me that man’s sword,” said the Ape. So they took the King’s sword and handed it, with the sword-belt and all, to the monkey. And he hung it round his own neck: and it made him look sillier than ever. (The Last Battle)

    Liked by 2 people

  7. ” I am a democrat because I believe in the Fall of Man. I think most people are democrats for the opposite reason. A great deal of democratic enthusiasm descends from the ideas of people like Rousseau, who believed in democracy because they thought mankind so wise and so good that everyone deserved a share in government. The danger of defending democracy on those grounds is that they are not true. And whenever their weakness is exposed, the people who prefer tyranny make capital out of the exposure. I find that they’re not true without looking further than myself. I don’t deserve a share in governing a henroost, much less a nation. Nor do most people – all people who believe advertisements, and think in catchwords and spread rumours. The real reason for democracy is just the reverse. Mankind is so fallen that no man can be trusted with unchecked power over his fellows.” [C S Lewis] I totally agree with, and for me concurs with –
    “People, as individuals, or as groups, have no right to give honour, glory and worshipful obedience to any other individual or group of people – The Lord shall rule over people.” [Thomas Paine]

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yewtree says:

      I don’t believe in the Fall in the Christian sense but I think it’s quite true that no one should have that much power over their fellow beings.

      Like

      • Even if you don’t believe in a Christian Fall you have to concede that 2 Samuel chapter 15 gives us a good description of the beginning of “politics”. I am also interested in why, desptie not believing in the Christian Fall, you don’t have much faith in human individuals to lord it over their fellows.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yewtree says:

          Not believing in the Fall doesn’t mean that I think people are nice!

          I think we are a bundle of conflicting instincts – some predatory, some communal (pack instinct), which are modified by centuries of living in close proximity to other humans.

          Like

          • I agree totally that we are all instinctual (physical), but we are also intellectual, and spiritual beings, with an “unconscious” (that is existential and none of the above), which is why it is necessary to always be aware that :-
            “A higher dimension, by definition, is a more inclusive one. The lower dimension is included in the higher one; it is subsumed in it and encompassed by it. Thus biology is overarched by psychology, psychology by theology” [Dr Viktor E Frankl]
            – or, in my layman’s terms – as important and influential as your intellect is to your physical being, your spiritual, higher dimension, is even more important and influential to all of your mental, intellectual and your physical being.

            “Ultimately, man should not ask what the meaning of life is, but rather he must recognize that it is he who is asked. In a word, each man is questioned by life; and he can only answer to life by answering for his own life; to life he can only respond by being responsible.” [Dr Viktor E Frankl]

            For the individual, (the RIDER, not the ELEPHANT he is riding) the choice is :-
            “The will to meaning or purpose” (Frankl) – which is a spiritual, mental and physical search,
            while
            “The will to power” (Nietzsche) and “The will to pleasure” (Freud) which are limited to a mental and physical search simply because for Nietzsche and Freud “unconsciousness religiousness has always remained something instinctual” [Dr Viktor E Frankl]

            Liked by 1 person

            • Yewtree says:

              Amen to that. I just meant that the baser instincts exist because we are natural beings (supernatural explanations like the Fall aren’t needed).

              Like

              • I am interested to know where you think supernatural explanations are needed, or what your definition of “spiritual” and “supernatural” are ?

                Liked by 2 people

              • Yewtree says:

                Supernatural: other than natural, ontologically transcendent, outside nature.

                Preternatural (usage coined by Michael York, Pagan theologian): immanent, within nature.

                Spiritual: (1) of or pertaining to the spirit in the sense of soul, atman, ruach, pneuma; (2) giving a sense of oneness with all that is.

                Natural: having visible, tangible, verifiable, repeatable explanations (whether psychological or physical) – in this context.

                Liked by 1 person

              • I am now interested to know why, when you and Michael York, have the “spiritual” dimension as a supernatural dimension, you still find a fourth dimension necessary – “preternatural”, which you define also as beyond what is normal or natural ?

                I am also still interested to know how you define “spirit” because, not only is the phrase “pertaining to the spirit” not defining anything pertaining to the nature or structure of “spirit” as an entity, but, as the Strong’s definitions which you quote, define all the different words – “SPIRIT” – “SOUL” and “LIFE” – similarly :–

                “breath, i.e. (by implication) spirit, abstract or concrete (the animal sentient principle only; thus distinguished on the one hand from (pneu~ma), which is the rational and immortal soul; and on the other from “flow”, which is mere vitality, even of plants: these terms thus exactly correspond respectively to:- Hebrew {5315} (nephesh), Hebrew {7307} (ruwach) and Hebrew {2416} (chay)): — heart (+ -ily), life, mind, soul, + us, + you; life (or living thing), whether literally or figuratively: — + age, alive, appetite, (wild) beast, company, congregation, life(-time), live(-ly), living (creature)”

                … and because Hebrews 4:12 inform us that the “spirit” and the “soul” are two different entities – “For the word of God [is] quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and [is] a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”.

                So, I suppose I am also interested as to why and what “the Word of God” has shown you are the differences between your “spirit” and your “soul” in order to discern the intentions of your heart?

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yewtree says:

                As far as I’m concerned, all spirit is immanent in Nature (including the spirits of people and animals). That which is preternatural is a spiritual phenomenon within Nature.

                Liked by 1 person

              • So what’s the difference between “supernatural” and “preternatural”? Is there a difference between “a naturally supernatural spirit” and a “supernaturally supernatural spirit” ? … forget I just asked those two questions.
                I would rather know how you define the difference between your “spirit” and your “soul” and how do you trust your discernment of the difference.

                Liked by 1 person

              • Yewtree says:

                Going back to the original point about why humans are bad: I meant that the explanation offered by the story of the Fall isn’t necessary to explain why humans can be bad; and conversely, our good instincts (community, cooperation, compassion) can be explained as products of our interactions with the environment and each other too.

                Liked by 1 person

              • In your explanation for the Fall no supernatural, “Good” or “Evil” is required, how about your explanation for the “Resurrection”?.

                Like

              • Yewtree says:

                I don’t believe in the resurrection. Why would I? I’m a Pagan.

                Like

              • What if, as you believe, your mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in your brain?, surely you have no reason to suppose that your beliefs are true…and therefore you have no reason for supposing your brain to be composed of atoms” [ PROFESSOR HALDANE]

                Like

              • Yewtree says:

                You’re assuming that my paradigm is purely materialistic. It isn’t.

                I believe that spirit is immanent in Nature, not outside it, not ontologically transcendent.

                Like

              • Reasoning can not be designated as merely “materialistic” and must always be involved in ontological thinking about the transcendent. You cannot evade the question by attempting to eliminate the thinking process as basic and foundational step in formulating your beliefs. So, what is the foundation of your belief if it is not the motion of atoms ?

                Like

              • Yewtree says:

                I think we are just talking at cross purposes and would prefer that we discontinue the discussion

                Like

              • So what’s the difference between “supernatural” and “preternatural”? Is there a difference between “a naturally supernatural spirit” and a “supernaturally supernatural spirit” ? … forget I just asked those two questions.
                I would rather know how you define the difference between your “spirit” and your “soul” and how do you trust your discernment of the difference.

                Liked by 1 person

  8. Laura and I were reflecting together this morning before she left for work on how one of the less attractive sides to Barak Obama was when he was drawn into personal conflict with people like Trump. He would become unpleasantly sarcastic and demeaning such as in his Press Club speech which, as legend has it, led to Trump’s decision to run for President. After reading your excellent reflection on Narnian politics, which is surely a theological reflection on the Kingdom of God, the following thoughts came to mind.
    What if, when the Pevensies learnt about the White Witch at the home of the Beavers and of Edmund’ s treachery soon after, they had decided not to go straight to Aslan but to organise their own uprising? Either they would fail and so deprive Narnia the freedom of godly rule, or they would succeed by their own means and so deprive Narnia of the freedom of godly rule. Just so, what if Obama had gone to Aslan (by another name) with his resentment about Trump’s campaign to create doubt about whether Obama was American born or not?
    Just a thought…

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for this is to top survation, Stephen. You have taken this little note and deepened it somewhat. I suppose that I have a couple of cabeats. First, even good leaders will make mistakes. And some of those will be vital and huge mistakes that are built on a character of a person. Still I think a leader with Integrity can work through those mistakes, but no lynching them when possible and moving through to you. I hardly ever see presidents and prime ministers speak like that. Second, I think there is room for critique of one another. What is the quality of our hard words however? I don’t know that sarcasm is usually a very wise move, and I do miss the wit and verbal play of past Generations of leaders and intellectuals. But I don’t know if that’s really a question of character or question of training and education?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yewtree says:

        That’s why Michelle Obama’s speech “when they go low, we go high” was such a great moment

        Like

        • Yes, with the caveat that perfect fulfillment of that is impossible.
          I do wish that anti-Trump liberals would turn away from mocking and simply pointing out stupid things Trump does–CNN and late night takes care of that–and turn to the hard questions: Why didn’t Americans trust the Democratic party? What is at the heart of American understanding of integrity? Why did religious communities distrust people on the left claiming to be fighting for liberty? What is the cost of allowing Trump to set the tone for response?

          Liked by 1 person

          • For “democracy” or the “democratic spirit” (diabolical sense) leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and quick to snarl or whimper at the first hint of criticism. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be. For when such a nation meets in conflict a nation where children have been made to work at school, where talent is placed in high posts, and where the ignorant mass are allowed no say at all in public affairs, only one result is possible. [C S Lewis]

            Liked by 2 people

  9. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Hoping to get back to this for various excellent ‘servings’ of food for thought, and to the comments, I suddenly wonder, do we know what Digory was professor of, and where, and where he lived when the Pevensies arrived? I can’t think of certain answers to any of those, and suppose I never knew (time to reread… one way or another). Wild but intriguing thought – was he at Edgestowe, though not at Brackton, and that is why he’s ‘retired’ when we meet him? (!) Did he (in whatever way, exactly) teach Political Philosophy (‘All in Plato…”)?

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hannah says:

    Great post for Ascension Day! Thanks for all these Narnian examples of good leadership!
    As a European I keep being astounded at the power an American president seems to have over the other two branches of government – e.g. appointment of federal judges (even for life!) and the firing of FBI officials – how democratic is that?

    Like

    • Well, it is American democracy–which is the most clearly thought out of the big dog democracy projects. But we all have systems that seem disturbing to outsiders.

      Like

      • Hannah says:

        Hopefully it will remain a democracy in spite of his many autocratic tendencies and actions, and that eventually he will be held accountable for all his ‘Shift-yness’ … that truth will prevail

        Like

        • Hannah says:

          and the rule of law … “The king’s under the law, for it’s the law makes him a king.”

          Like

          • My confidence is pretty high in Americans to not allow that to happen, but I think most systems allow for quite a lot of corruption or bullying or gerrymandering. Power manipulation is a nonpartisan game.

            Like

      • When C S Lewis says, “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.” he is saying something much more than, and profoundly deeper than, “my belief in Christianity is as certain and true as the sunrise”. He is saying “Should the Christian faith ever become one of many co-equal pensioners of a government, it will be proof that subjective religion has again lost its God-given hold on objective reality … travelling back again from the region to which the Gospel brought us, towards that in which it found us” [W E Gladstone] – a pagan society. Lewis is saying we should be asking ourselves – “How can we move from the place where we explain the Gospel in the terms of our post-modern society world-view to the place where we explain our post-modern society world-view from the point of the Gospel’s world-view.?” [Lesslie Newbigin] “Explanation” puts a strange thing into a place where it fits and is no longer strange, and as C S Lewis says, “What you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing; it also depends on what kind of person you are” [C S Lewis]
        So, Lewis is saying – “Beliefs must come to terms with facts, not facts with beliefs.” [Dallas Willard] and whether you accept the explanation or not depends on the way in which you understand Reality, and if you are not standing “in Christ/in the Kingdom of God” your limited world-view (one without the dimension of Holy Spiritual Reality) restricts you to being unable to, have not been empowered to, can not hear/understand, see/perceive, or receive the Reality of the Son Of Righteousness being God. We are not able to do do this in our ‘self’. Only the exceedingly great power which raised Jesus Christ Himself from the dead, the Holy Spirit, is able to raise anyone from the dead and set them above all principalities, powers and dominions, and only the Holy Spirit gives us a clear perspective of these power systems (politics is activity in relation to power) and their spiritual, mental and physical capacity.

        Like

  11. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Thoughts arising from the post (still not having caught up on the comments!) – the striking parallel and distinction (which never struck me so, till your summary) of the human become ‘mythical’ in LWW and the non-human in PC, each time as a result of tyrannical calculation, with the additional complication in PC of the human become suspect to the Old Narnians as a result of human abuse and the twist of those willing to appeal to the old tyrant on a basis of perceived power.

    The human and the ‘salutary outsider’, in comparison and contrast to various things like the Englishman in The Prisoner of Zenda, and ‘culture heroes’ like Scyld Scefing in Beowulf, and Beowulf himself in the present. In LWW, the ‘outsider humans’ do not aid, but are, the true royalty – yet also disappear again after a number of years, while in PC they help the ‘insider human true king’. In VDT, there are also non-human true ‘princes’, and human-non-human licit, fruitful intermarriage (cf. Tolkien, but also, e.g., what Lewis reports in The Discarded Image about “the family of Lusignan boast[ing] a water-spirit among their ancestresses”). In MN, the human and non-human ‘salutary’ and ‘deleterious outsiders’ (interesting to compare and contrast with the first two Ransom romances, especially, Perelandra). Is the explicitly mortal human kingship an ‘adjustment’ to the original ‘plan’ for rational/spiritual ‘other animal’ rule, following the human parts in the introduction of Jadis? (My science-fictional take is, that Aslan is primary and notably ‘passible manifestation’ of the Ascended Jesus in His newly-created Narnian cosmos.)

    Unlike earthly history of political order, Narnia never seems to have a phase or phenomenon of ‘cosmological empire’ such as, for example, Egypt, Mesopotamia, China, and Japan did, where a ‘divine king’ mediates Divine Order to the imperial kingdom, conceived as the centre of the earthly world. The closest Narnia comes to this is the late Calormene cynical promulgation of the service of ‘Tashlan’.

    It is fascinating to think of possible lines from the Lewis brothers’ enjoyment of Ruritanian sorts of fiction, but also Dumas’s Musketeers, bearing first fruit in ‘Boxon’ to Jack’s teaching his Political Philosophy course (from Plato to Lenin in 10 weeks) to History undergraduates like A.G. Dickens and Warnie’s studies of 17th-c. France, and to the political philosophical aspects of Narnia made available to the youngest readers.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    A couple months before Lewis talked to Chad Walsh in August 1948 about taking up what would prove to be The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, Robert Kennedy, then 22, travelled to Palestine to report on the situation there for The Boston Post. These April reports were published in June, one on the date on which he would be assassinated 40 years later. I just encountered Lenny Ben-David’s article reprinting them in transcription with an introduction on the 60th anniversary of that one’s appearance:

    http://jcpa.org/article/robert-kennedys-1948-reports-from-palestine/

    They struck me as a fascinating bit of writing (by someone one does not so readily think of as a writer or reporter) contemporary with the literary ‘birth of Narnia’ and its reflections.

    Like

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      40>20! (It was reprinted on the fortieth anniversary of his assassination.)

      Like

    • Ah David, you always tempt me to read great things! I cannot do it now–am sequestered to archival work and paper writing. But it strikes me that good, old-fashioned, on-the-street journalism might be a better preparation for national leadership than, say, law or business.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.