Saturday, October 12, 2013

Turkish Delight

‘Turkish Delight for the little prince?’ taunts the queen. She orders up some, ‘Food and drink for the human creature! It would not do to have it fainting on the way…’ Bowing as he passes her, a deformed dwarf brings Edmund an iron tray with bowl and cup. ‘I don’t want dry bread!’ retorts the boy-betrayer, but humbled and frightened by one piercing glance from the queen, Edmund bends down to lay the tray with water and a stale rusk on the stone floor of the throne room. Having delivered his own brother and sisters into the hands of one whom he now begins to realize is their would-be murderer, he forgets all about vague promises of being made a prince and being able to ‘eat Turkish Delight all day long.’

The depth of the pathos of human existence on this planet proliferates in endless myths the attempt to make sense of it, from ancient scriptures to modern fairy tales. The Chronicles of Narnia—the seven children’s books by C. S. Lewis, not the modern movies ‘based’ on them—are another expression in a modern genre of the ageless tale. Resentment breeds anger, which gives birth to betrayal, and often ends in murder. What starts out as an unflinching itch to get even can progress, egged on by appetite, to more than we have bargained for. Love and loyalty to one’s own family, even that is sacrificed, mowed down in our mad rush to harvest what we think we deserve, and when we realize our mistake…

So this is why saviors aplenty turn up in every land and from age to age. Human urge unrestrained too late realizing it has lost all wants to recover it somehow. In passion trampling down justice, we want to restore it, make it ‘as it was’ but we don’t know how, and we refuse to believe that what we’ve done can’t be reversed. Sick as we are, we would rather go to a quack and be told we’ll get better ‘by and by’ than wait for a real doctor to show up. If he did, what would he do to us? We suspect the treatment would hurt, might be unbearable, maybe even kill us. Then there’d be no one left to feel better. If that’s what the doctor will do, I may as well stay home. My medicine cabinet has drugs ‘for whatever ails you.’

Back to the story of Edmund and the White Witch (for that is who she actually is, not a queen), after he betrays the whereabouts of his brother and sisters, he has no choice now but to go along for the ride, as the witch prepares her pursuit by stealth, ‘use the sleigh without bells,’ of the other members of his family. He doesn’t yet know why this madwoman wants to capture them. The fact is, that all four brothers and sisters have been called, summoned out of their world—our world, earth—to fill roles assigned to them by prophecy, ‘When Adam’s flesh and Adam’s bone sits at Cair Paravel in throne, the evil time will be over and done.’ But only together can they fulfill the prophecy, and inherit a kingdom.

Sounds vaguely familiar? It’s no secret that C. S. Lewis wrote, as children’s literature, and mythologically, Christian theology of a very high order. He must’ve known, being a man of our times, how jaded the Christian message now sounds to our ears. A few of those ears were caught by these strange tales, and made to take another look at the real story in the real world. Ironic that for some of us, we must look away into a myth to find the mythless God. Humanity in its condition universally deflected produced myths to declare our dissatisfaction with the world we have made. And the Divine Nature in His wisdom has put on our flesh to dissolve our diseases and restore us to the world that He has made.

And that is no tray of stale bread and water.


The Archer of the Forest said...

The BBC Narnia mini-series was so much better than the blockbuster movie.

Ρωμανός ~ Romanós said...

Yes, indeed! and why? Because it was a faithful rendition in film of what Lewis wrote.