Our heroes finally begin to realize where they are.
“Kings and Queens,” [Farsight] cried, “we have all been blind. We are only beginning to see where we are. From up there I have seen it all – Ettinsmuir, Beaversdam, the Great River, and Cair Paravel still shining on the edge of the Eastern Sea. Narnia is not dead. This is Narnia.”
I’m sorely tempted to just fill this post with quotes, but I can add a little input. If I have to. I guess.
Seriously, though, we’ve gotten to the point in this book where you just need to read it for yourself, because it is that beautiful.
As it turns out, there is some fodder for discussion in the form of Emeth’s story. As crazy as it may sound, this is actually the most controversial element in the entire series for a certain segment of Christians (which I may or may not have firsthand experience with).
“[…] I overcame my fear and questioned the Glorious One and said, Lord, is it then true, as the Ape said, that thou and Tash are one? The Lion growled so that the earth shook (but his wrath was not against me) and said, It is false. Not because he and I are one, but because we are opposites, I take to me services which thou hast done to him. For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. If any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name of Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me, thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”
Clearly, Lewis is saying that faith and religion is a good and healthy thing (even if it’s founded on false precepts), and also that simply being in “the right camp” won’t guarantee you salvation. Some Christians read this as an avocation for Universalism – the idea that literally EVERYONE will go to heaven. They forget that just last chapter we saw Aslan enacting a final judgement and condemning those that hated him to death (or worse). “All find what they truly seek.” That’s the point: Some join the Church who just want power or moral superiority or whathaveyou, and some follow other religions out of genuine faith and longing for truth. It’s not for us to judge who will go to heaven in the end, so while we’re here, we shouldn’t just dismiss Muslims or Hindus or Buddhists because they “seek Tash.”
It was the Unicorn who summed up what everyone was feeling. He stamped his right forehoof on the ground and neighed, and then cried:
“I have come home at last! This is my real country! I belong here. This is the land I have been looking for all my life, though I never knew it until now. The reason why we loved the old Narnia is that it sometimes looked a little like this. Bree-hee-hee! Come further up, come further in!”
Next time: We bid Narnia farewell, and prepare for a new adventure…