David Gregg's Reviews > The Last Battle

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis
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's review
Jan 11, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, fantasy-myth-metaphor-scifi, novel, philosophy-theology-spirituality
Recommended for: people who like "The Shack" or "So You Don't Want to Go to Church Anymore"
Read in January, 2009

** spoiler alert ** I really enjoyed "The Last Battle." Then again, I'm also one for allegory. This final book in the Chronicles of Narnia is the most clearly allegorical of the lot—even including "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe." This is the primary reason why I liked it so much.

Like the Talking Beasts of Narnia, so many people are deceived and convinced that our God is an unkind, impatient, and vindictive God.

To think so of our "Aslan" causes many horrible things (of which, I'll give three):

1) People learn to feel genuinely frightened by Him. And when that happens, they can be easily manipulated. Fear is by far the easiest path for coercion to take. In "The Last Battle" the ape, Shift, is able to convince people that he speaks for Aslan, and with this power, he is able to redefine the way they conceive of him. At this point, he manipulates their new fears and is able to make them do his will under the guise of Aslan's will. Fear gives undeserved power to those who have the ability to induce it and it destroys the opportunity for relationship. It stratifies equal people into unnatural hierarchal structures.

2) When someone comes along and convinces people that their God is not the cold, mean God they thought him to be (as Tirian did for the Dwarfs), some people do rejoice when it dawns on them that He really is as kind and loving as they hoped he was. But, some people jump to the conclusion that there is no God at all. They hear the proof against the idea that "Aslan" is bad, and rather than decide Aslan must therefore be good, they exceed the evidence, deciding instead that Aslan must not exist at all. So, in the end, the lie can destroy not just one's concept of who God is, but one's acceptance of his existence as fact.

3) When people are frightened by something, the usual response is to put as much distance between them and it as is possible. They run, they hide, or they guard themselves. They seek a shield or a wall to keep it from touching them. They seek a buffer to lessen the power of its terror on them. They seek a mediator to deal with it so they won't have to. It is simply too horrible a thought for them to interact directly with it. Read it in the allegory in chapter 10:

      "Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you," said dozens of voices. "That's what we wanted! We can go in and see him face to face. And now he'll be kind and it will all be as it used to be." And the Birds chattered, and the dogs barked excitedly. Then suddenly, there was a great stirring and a noise of creatures rising to their feet, and in a second the whole lot of them would have been rushing forward and trying to crowd into the Stable door all together.
      But the Ape shouted: "Get back! Quiet! Not so fast."
      The Beasts stopped, many of them with one paw in the air, many with tails wagging, and all of them with heads on one side.
      "I thought you said," began the Bear, but Shift interrupted.
      "Anyone can go in," he said. "But one at a time. Who'll go in first? He didn't say he was feeling very kind. He's been licking his lips a lot since he swallowed up the wicked King the other night. He's been growling a good deal this morning. I wouldn't much like to go into that Stable myself tonight. But just as you please. Who'd like to go in first? Don't blame me if he swallows you whole or blasts you into a cinder with the mere terror of his eyes. That's your affair. Now then! Who's first?"...
      But the Beasts all stood looking at one another and began backing away from the Stable. Very few tails were wagging now. The Ape waddled to and fro jeering at them. "Ho-ho-ho!" he chuckled. "I thought you were all so eager...?"
      "Mercy! Mercy!" wailed the Beasts. "Spare us, Lord Shift, stand between us and Aslan, you must always go in and speak to him for us. We daren't, we daren't."
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