Friday, September 19, 2008

Peace in Narnia

Excerpted from Chapter 6: Peace and War of my book The Heart of Narnia. If you have not read the Narnia series, note that this entry contains spoilers ...

Readers of the Chronicles of Narnia may get the impression that strife and warfare are regular occurrences in Narnia. This, in fact, is what Jill Pole thinks in The Last Battle. Whenever English children are called into Narnia, there always seems to be a crisis that inevitably involves some kind of strife.

But as Jewel the unicorn observes, throughout Narnia's history, there has been much peace and stability. It is only every now and then that serious trouble arises. As Jewel explains it, during the times when the aid of the children was not needed, Narnia experienced prolonged periods of peace when nothing much eventful occurred. There were centuries of happy times involving dancing, feasting, and tournaments.

The Golden Age of Narnia

Peace is clearly valued by Narnians. The Golden Age of Narnia (a term used to describe the period when Narnia was ruled by Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) is referred to fondly several times in the Chronicles.

The Golden Age is a time of peace following the Hundred Years of Winter, when Narnia was ruled by the White Witch. It is a time when the kings and queens rule justly and peace reigns.

The Golden Age is also an age of freedom when citizens are allowed to live freely - within the parameters of good laws, no doubt. It is also during the Golden Age that incursions of giants into Narnian territory are driven back, indicating that even in an age of peace, vigilance must be kept and hostile intruders repelled.

Another significant aspect of the Golden Age involves cultivating peaceful relations with other countries. A potential downside of such a time of peace is that by the time of The Horse and His Boy, which takes place during the Golden Age, some Narnians have become complacent about potential attacks from hostile neighboring countries, such as the empire of Calormen.

Aslan and Peace

The culmination of the Chronicles is the peace and joy of entering Aslan's country, which corresponds to the Christian concept of "a new heaven and a new earth" (Revelation 21:1).

Our world will end, but when it does, God's plans will come to fruition: Evil will be done away with, and there will be peace and joy for those who believed in Christ and accepted His offer of salvation. The prospect ahead of Aslan's followers in The Last Battle is of just such peace and joy. As on earth, however, Narnia's worldly existence (which in Lewis's Neoplatonic sense is a shadow of the reality to come) must address times of strife.

While Aslan is no warmonger, neither is he a pacifist. He sanctions warfare to overcome or deter evil. Like Christ, Aslan has the capacity for peace and the capacity for war. Consequently, Aslan has beautiful and large velvetlike paws, but he can also reveal his fierce claws when needed, such as when he enters battle in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and kills the White Witch.

Likewise, his powerful jaws have the capacity to crush but can also be used playfully, as when Aslan picks up the dwarf Trumpkin in Prince Caspian.

Aslan desires peace but knows that ultimate peace will not come until Narnia draws to a close and his followers enter the real Narnia in his own country, where there is no war. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, as Reepicheep is preparing to enter Aslan's country, the mouse seems to understand this concept, as he willingly leaves behind his sword - an uncharacteristic act for such a courageous mouse.

Copyright © 2008 by Robert Velarde. All rights reserved.

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