Gerri Ravyn Stanfield is a writing buddy of mine. A couple of days ago, in the midst of all the responses to the extreme testosterone poisoned abuse from the GOP candidate for President, she posted something on Facebook that’s had me thinking ever since.
“If Trump gets elected,” Gerri said, “I’m moving to Narnia!”
Jackpot! I’ve been pondering this issue for quite some time, now. Hence my reply, “Narnia is definitely the answer!”
And then, a bit of back and forth later, me again. “I may move there regardless of who wins!”
It’s tempting! Bill thought it was a pretty good idea. Our resident Newfie rescues, Sarah and Phoebe, are fine with it as long as they get to go, too. No more abandonment for them! We would need a more dependable way to visit than the back of the wardrobe. I’d miss my girls!
This morning, I woke with another voice in my head. But first, a bit of context for the uninitiated.
A collection of the kind of children’s stories that are so layered with meaning we should all read them again as adults, The Chronicles of Narnia were written by C. S. Lewis and published in the early-1950’s. Imagine, for a moment, a writers’ group meeting in a local pub near Oxford University to discuss their work in progress. The group was called “The Inklings” which may have been more technologically appropriate then than now. Other members of the club included J.R.R. Tolkien and Victor “Hugo” Dyson, as well as Lewis’s brother, Warren, and Tolkien’s son, Christopher. Once I heard that Carl Jung dropped in now and then. I’m not sure it’s true, but I hope so! I, myself, first read the Narnia tales during my first year in seminary when I was flat on my back for the month of January with a deeply inconvenient back injury. I am reading them, still. (Yes, kind of like West Wing!)
Instead of arguing semantics all day, let me just say that The Chronicles of Narnia, whether allegories or myths or archetypes, tell the story of Christ in the world. The key figure in the story is the lion, Aslan. As one source puts it, “Aslan is not a representative of Christ, Aslan is Christ–just in another dimension of reality” (matthewrettino.wordpress.com).
I’m ok with that. Please hang with me, though, even if your “I’m not into religion” or “That’s heresy” buttons are being pushed a bit. I promise. It will all turn out fine!
So, the voice in my head this morning belonged to none other than Puddleglum. If you haven’t met him, now is a great time! Puddleglum comes to us from The Silver Chair, which is book six in the Chronicles.
Puddleglum is traveling with a prince and two small children. As we meet them, they are being held captive by the Queen of Underland who accuses them all of playing make-believe in their search for Narnia, the kingdom of Aslan.
“One word, Ma’am, [Puddleglum] said … All you’ve been saying is quite right, I shouldn’t wonder. I’m a chap who always liked to know the worst and then put the best face I can on it. So I won’t deny any of what you said. But there’s one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that’s a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We’re just babies making up a game, if you’re right. But four babies playing a game can make a play-world which licks your real world hollow. That’s why I’m going to stand by the play-world. I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia. So, thanking you kindly, for our supper, if these two gentlemen and the young lady are ready, we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for the Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s a small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”
I won’t spoil the ending, except to say that there was more journeying and hardship to be faced. (I’m guessing you can figure it out!) But here’s the point, at least for me.
Metaphorically, a new Aslan-esque figure dropped into our public existence in the person of Bernie Sanders. I’m not saying he’s perfect. Just that he came crying out for a new nation more just and honest and peaceful than the one where the oligarchy has been in power for quite a while. At the very least, many of us are seeing–and hearing–more clearly now. That’s a very good thing.
There is, however, more journeying and hardship to be faced. I have a plan, though. I’m going to live as like a Berner as I can even if there isn’t any Bernie Sanders on the ballot. I think, if we join together, we can lick the real world hollow!
For me, right now, that means voting my values instead of my fears. Since I live in Georgia where I can’t vote for Bernie, I’m going to vote for Jill Stein in hopes of getting enough votes for the Green Party to dismember the broken two-party system for the future of this country. (It gets even more interesting than that at theindependentthinker2016 !) Then, we can figure out what the next step is!
I’m going to keep working to ensure free and fair elections in America.
I’m going to support local and state candidates who believe in these goals. I suspect that will involve quite a bit of housecleaning!
I’m going to keep working for the rights and dignity of all our people. (Even the women!)
I’m going to keep valuing the planet we call home and talking about real ways we can all help heal the environment.
In short, I’m going to hope. Which, to my mind, beats choosing the lesser of two evils all hollow.
I hope you’re going to hope, too. Whatever that means to you. It will probably take more than four of us but Bernie already rounded up a bunch. We’re better together than we are alone.
Don’t you just love it when shreds of the past and bits of the present and sparks of the wisdom of the ages all come together? I do.