Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

C. S. Lewis, his worlds, and his faith.

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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby EveningStar » Oct 29, 2009 3:33 am

It seems to me that the adventures are a series of purifying steps that prepare the travellers to actually come to the shores of Aslan's Country. They had to deal with fear, greed, impatience, injustice, etc. That's one thing I hope the film makers will concentrate upon, that the individual episodes are pieces of a larger puzzle.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 29, 2009 1:28 pm

EveningStar wrote:It seems to me that the adventures are a series of purifying steps that prepare the travellers to actually come to the shores of Aslan's Country. They had to deal with fear, greed, impatience, injustice, etc.
Interesting thought, ES! Just like the Christian life is a journey with Jesus, and we're purified/sanctified for heaven along the way. :)
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Oct 30, 2009 1:33 am

It is a terrific thought, ES. And yes I agree that the Dawn Treader travellers were tested again and again. On each island in fact. It goes back to an Old Testament verse, Isaiah 48:10, in which it is stated:

Behold I have refined thee, but not as silver: I have chosen thee in the furnace of poverty.

VDT so reminds me of those chants, nursery rhymes etc in which there are ten green bottles hanging on the wall. Only it is Seven Missing Lords. This is my paraphrase. =))

Seven Missing Lords fled the king's deadly tricks.
One romanced a native girl And then there were six.

Six Missing Lords journeyed to stay alive.
One found a dragon's hoard. And then there were five

Five Missing Lords continued quite some more
One dived into gold. And then there were four

Four Missing Lords still sailing on the sea
One wanted his dreams fulfilled, then there were three.

Three Missing Lords arguing what to do.
One picked up a knife. And then there were two.

Two missing lords who declined to go ahead.
Both fell asleep at lunch. Before they went to bed.

And then there were no more. ;) And the rest of you are cordially invited to submit a better effort. :)

What are the consequences of fear?

I think that 'listening to fears' is an ongoing theme of the whole Narnia series, in each and every book. And it is one that does deeply concern those who choose to believe in Christ. What if one's spouse is an unbeliever? Or if one's siblings or in-laws give grief? How will one's fellow believers react? For example, if the new believer doesn't really want to disagree with evolution? What if one's current religious beliefs clash with previously held religious beliefs?

This theme does show up with LWW. Susan repeatedly says she doesn't like the situation she is in, and seeks to escape it. She is also afraid of anything out of the ordinary, and so wants to believe Lucy has a problem, perhaps a mental problem ;). Edmund is committed to the White Witch so has a fear of Aslan at first. In PC, Susan again 'listens to fears'. She refuses to believe Lucy - well she didn't in LWW either - and is the last Pevensie to see Aslan. In the book, at any rate, Susan is in for a most humiliating apology. But by LB, Susan has severed ties with Narnia. Perhaps she needs those 'invitations' to reassure herself of her beauty and worthiness, and needs anything that will help her get where she wants to be.

Now we get to VDT. Obviously fears are important in many adventures, most notably in the Dawn Treader's visit to Dark Island, and its escape from it. What frightens you most? I don't think Eustace is a wimp for fearing huge scissors - far from it. Has anyone done any International travel lately? Or had to do without access to scissors for something like six weeks? No? Well let me assure you just how basic and needed scissors are, and how deadly the International community has deemed them. By the way, for all his behaviour at the beginning of VDT, Eustace really does know a thing or two about science, and I concur with him 100%

But what about Lucy? Doesn't she have fears, valiant though she may be? When Lucy examines that Magician's Book she is tempted by just two spells. The first one is the Beauty spell, and we see where Lucy is at. Of course at home she would have been compared unfavourably with Susan, the 'family beauty'. It is Susan, after all, who was selected to go to America. But which stupid rellies are doing the comparisons? Surely not Eustace's parents.... 8-| ?

I am not saying that fears are necessarily a bad thing. If Lord Restimar had been a mite more cautious would his golden statue (ahem, his naked golden statue) remain at the bottom of a pond he chose to dive into without checking water depth etc? And if Lord Rhoop had considered that daydreams and nightmares are only different in outcome, would he have needed rescuing from Dark Island?

And if the remaining three lords had all been capable of rational discussion of their fears, or even of their three differing points of view, would any of them have picked up that knife?

How does a focus on eternity affect our daily lives?

I'll have to think a bit more about this question, and its particular relevance to VDT. But if Caspian had taken in the possibility of Eternity, like our very own Arthur Stace, would he have thrown that Dawn Treader tantrum for a second? Somehow I think not.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 30, 2009 12:39 pm

wagga: LOVE the VDT paraphrase! B-)

I liked everything you said about listening to fear[s]. Because I'm convinced it's not a good thing, in any of the books for any of the characters. Why? "The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?" [Psalm 27:1] "For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind" [2 Timothy 1:7]. "For He hath said, I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper and I will not fear what man shall do unto me" [Hebrews 13:5-6]. Listening to our fears leads to sin and choices we'll later regret. I think Susan and Lord Rhoop demonstrate this. :(

Of course, it matters what kind of fear we're talking about. Because we're also commanded to fear the Lord and reverence His name, since God is our Judge. And this is the kind of fear the Dwarfs in LB should exhibit and don't. 8-|

"How does a focus on eternity affect our daily lives?" Consider what C. S. Lewis himself says: "The Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next....The apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English evangelicals who abolished slave trade, all left their mark on earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world, that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at heaven and you will get earth ‘thrown in’; aim at earth and you will get neither." B-)
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Oct 30, 2009 3:23 pm

Well those who believe in an Immortal Soul may have less fear of Death. Unless they believe in an Eternity of Hell, which is horrible. But I agree that some fear is necessary. These are the fears that should have stopped people doing what they did in the Narnia books:

Edmund might have listened to the Beavers' obvious fear of the White Witch. Instead, he closed his ears and went to her anyway. In VDT, Restimar dived in without considering where he was going, whilst Lord Rhoop was enticed into going to the Dark Island, listening not to fears, which would have told him what he was up against, but to the desires of his own heart. Whilst Lucy would not have been tempted by those spells in the Magician's Book.

Sometimes fear is just common sense, or prudence, which is why Susan gets called a wet blanket, why she is the one to advocate caution, and why she is considered 'grown up'. If Digory had listened to caution he would have resisted the temptation of the bell in the Halls of Charn, and if Jill and Eustace had been more wary of even 'civilized' giants, they might not have been so anxious to stay at Harfang.

William Wilberforce and those who advocated the abolition of Slavery were indeed Christian evangelicals. I looked it up. But William Wilberforce, it seemed, was also the life of the party when a young man. He didn't lead the sort of puritan lifestyle at St Johns Cambridge or elsewhere, that forbade dancing and music, playing cards or going to dinner parties. He never wanted for money either, despite a gambling habit. And he was supported by like-minded friends who had wonderful conversations, something like Tolkien's elves.

But that is a lifestyle I could only dream about. And it is one reason why I find being preached at continually, by earnest Christians about vices, for example, so off-putting. I seldom gamble much more than once a year, the first Tuesday in November, when Australia stops for one particular horse race. My university studies were done mainly on the living room floor, or anywhere quiet I could find, as I amassed my qualifications through Distance Education, whilst rearing a family and following a profession which justifies my being educated at all. The sort of University education my daughter got, and which I struggled to support her to enjoy, included part-time and sometimes almost conflicting lectures at campuses scattered across a large city, completing loads of set assignments, as well as holding down a part-time job to finance her studies, and the cheapest accommodation available -staying with mum and dad, with absolutely no time to socialise whatsoever. Unlike the sort of once a week tutorials which are the only mandatory coursework at Oxford and Cambridge, it would seem.

And whilst I agree that Narnia has Christian themes, especially VDT, the current focus of debate, there are aspects of religious life I find downright appalling. Such as traditional attitudes towards women, not only in the Christian church but more particularly elsewhere. Mercifully, C.S.Lewis doesn't appear to share those 'women needn't study or work hard as they are only going to get married' attitudes, not in VDT at any rate.

Or does he, when he has Lucy being tempted by the beauty spell? Or when Susan goes off to America, an apparent reward for 'not being any good at schoolwork'? What do you make of Aslan's table? That table is not set with the sort of sandwiches and fruit juice staple that travellers, workers and students commonly live on. How is a table set at the end of the world a Christian theme? And why does Aslan disapprove so much of the quarrel on Deathwater Island?
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 30, 2009 4:32 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Mercifully, C.S.Lewis doesn't appear to share those 'women needn't study or work hard as they are only going to get married' attitudes, not in VDT at any rate. Or does he, when he has Lucy being tempted by the beauty spell? Or when Susan goes off to America, an apparent reward for 'not being any good at schoolwork'. What do you make of Aslan's table? How is a table set at the end of the world a Christian theme? And why does Aslan disapprove so much of the quarrel on Deathwater Island?
Loaded questions, wagga ... loaded questions. But you're good at this, aren't you? ;) You noted, in an earlier post, that
the Duke of Galma's daughter squints and had freckles. It is clear that 'Our Caspian' still has a lot to learn about right and wrong conduct. Does Caspian expect to get the perfect 'Mrs'?
Agreed! /:)

Lucy and the beauty spell ... well, what woman doesn't want to feel pretty or have others think she's pretty? Being tempted by such a spell doesn't mean Lewis reflects traditional attitudes toward women. You don't know much about women. :ymsmug: At the same time, one doesn't want Lucy to think beauty is a person's only possible worth. :-s However, I find Susan's going to America as a reward for not being academic more disturbing. Susan is rewarded for being an airhead, while Edmund and Lucy, presumably intelligent children, are sent to Eustace's in what must seem to them like punishment. One would almost want to do poorly in school on purpose just to get some perks! /:)

"How is a table set at the end of the world a Christian theme?" Well, the "marriage supper of the Lamb" comes immediately to mind. And it's a fulfillment of the Lord's Supper. For when we celebrate that, we "show the Lord's death till He come" [1 Corinthians 11:26]. I'd love to hear what you have in mind. :)

"And why does Aslan disapprove so much of the quarrel on Deathwater Island?" I guess what disturbs me most about this is that a man died, mostly as a result of negligence or carelessness. The Dawn Treader crew are in danger of becoming solidified into gold, thanks to Lord Restimar's deadly discovery. And yet, after the first sense of danger passes, all they can think about is that gold. They don't think of the man who died. There's no memorial to him. There's no sense of eternal things, just temporal ones. /:)
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Oct 31, 2009 12:49 am

220christian wrote:Lucy and the beauty spell ... well, what woman doesn't want to feel pretty or have others think she's pretty? Being tempted by such a spell doesn't mean Lewis reflects traditional attitudes toward women. You don't know much about women.


I wouldn't be so smug about knowing all there is about women. Yes, it would be nice to be regarded as pretty. Especially when I've made the effort and the occasions called for it. But that is not too often, and then hubby is most likely to be too busy fussing about how he looks, himself. 8-| Or, worse still, the date for the evening dresses worse than Petruccio did for his wedding to Kate in 'The Taming of the Shrew'. :( And I agree I would go ballistic if an older workmate tried to pass herself off as younger than I am, lied about her age to support that view, and let her work suffer due to not wearing her prescription glasses out of vanity. It isn't wanting to be pretty that is the problem, really. It is the idea that one has to be prettier than someone else, and how that competitiveness supports the whole ethos of the fashion industry.

That is why I find it hard to forgive Caspian's attitude to the Duke of Galma's daughter. Surely even in relatively conservative societies like Narnia something could be done about poor eyesight and freckles, judging by Pauline Baynes' illustrations. That is, if the lady co-operates. /:)

I agree with you that Susan going to America is a bit more serious. I don't necessarily see her as an airhead, merely someone who doesn't see schoolwork as the most important of her priorities. After all, she is so good at giving advice to others, now isn't she?

One would almost want to do poorly in school on purpose just to get some perks!


It would seem so. It would not have helped Lucy's and Edmund's attitudes to schoolwork. According to the article I linked to earlier, William Wilberforce and his mates would have found Susan's attitudes the proper female ones, even though they otherwise supported education, recognising its role in alleviating poverty. Someone who has a means of earning a living has an advantage in getting along in life, and they should make the most of it, male or female. From my point of view, for a woman, education is just as important as it is for a bloke, especially if she is widowed, divorced, separated or if her husband is injured, ill or otherwise unable to work. She might have others to support as well as herself. And also there is no guarantee that 'Mr Right' will ever turn up. He didn't for poor Aunt Letitia or Polly Plummer, did he?

Perhaps it would be more generous to say that Susan's parents probably thought they were doing the best they could for her, under the circumstances. It was just a pity that Professor Kirke could not take the younger ones as well as Peter, already studying for final exams. Do you think Susan would have fitted in well with Eustace's rather strange parents?

Technically speaking, Caspian, Reepicheep and his Pevensie guests aren't crew. They are passengers. At best Caspian is the Supercargo, that is to say the one who administers what happens to the cargo according to the purpose of the ship. It is just as well he gets on so well with Drinian, especially when there was a near mutiny on Ramandu's Island. ;)

Thanks for the reference to the Lord's Table and other verses. All I could think of was a verse of Psalm 23 which has been paraphrased into most familiar hymns, beginning: 'The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not want, He maketh me down to lie, In pastures green, He leadeth me, the Quiet waters by....

As for the quarrell, yes you are right. Caspian, in particular, thought of his own aggrandisement as king rather than the danger they were all in, forgetting that Restimar had died. Edmund was too absorbed in putting a check to that notion, whilst Lucy says: 'You're all such swaggering, bullying idiots -'. Is that a fair way to portray Caspian and Edmund?
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Oct 31, 2009 1:38 pm

wagga: something occurred to me last night about Lucy and the beauty spell. You said,
It is the idea that one has to be prettier than someone else, and how that competitiveness supports the whole ethos of the fashion industry.
The problem with the beauty spell temptation is that if Lucy had given into it, what would have been the outcome? Jealousy and war! She's wrongly comparing herself to Susan and wanting to be the prettiest as a result. Lucy's temporary focus is on self, when it should be on Aslan. For when he appears and Lucy looks at him with joy, her face is just as beautiful as that in the spell. Why? Because in Aslan is true beauty. He defines beauty. And Lucy's total focus in that moment is rightly on him. Her identity/worth/value comes from loving and knowing Aslan, not from what the world calls beautiful. :)

Regarding the episode on Deathwater Island, think about the name! The liquid gold in that pool is physical death to Lord Restimar. But it's also a kind of spiritual death to Caspian and his friends. Why? Greed. :(

About the Lord's Table... you mentioned Psalm 23. I assume you're referring to "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" [23:5]. It's a good reference! :) But think about this...

1. The written Word of God is compared to bread [Deuteronomy 8:3, Matthew 4:4, Luke 4:4]. So is the living Word of God, Jesus Christ: "I am the Bread of Life" [John 6:35, cf 6:48-58]. He is the true "manna."
2. Jesus Christ is also living water! Check out John 4:10, 14, 7:37-38.
3. In Bible times, a meal signified communion or fellowship. To eat and drink with someone showed you agreed with or supported them. That's why Jesus' eating and drinking with sinners seemed so heinous to the Pharisees [Matthew 9:10-13].
4. God wants us to have intimate fellowship/communion with Him. That's one reason why there are so many eating and drinking metaphors in the Bible. And that's why we should take the Lord's Supper seriously.
1 Corinthians 10:16-17, 21, 11:27-29 wrote:The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we, though many, are one bread and one body; for we all partake of that one bread. ... You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the Lord’s table and of the table of demons. ... Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Oct 31, 2009 9:02 pm

Just a few thoughts on your posts. :)

220christian wrote:Lucy's temporary focus is on self, when it should be on Aslan.


Well, yes. Or more to the point, Lucy is letting herself be distracted from the job at hand by her focus on herself. When she first looked at the spell book her focus was on the task at hand, as it should have remained if she thought more of what she had to do and what Aslan wanted her to do, and less of herself, and her life on Earth.

I can't help again being reminded of Til we have faces, and Psyche's two elder sisters in the story, Orual and Redival. The point of this story, echoing what you have been saying, is that true beauty is of the divine, and that being born looking physically unattractive doesn't stop a woman, or a man either, living a useful, worthwhile and enjoyable life, until old age and death claim their due. Whilst the fulfilment of a woman's attractiveness in marriage and children can and often does destroy a woman's prettiness as the years wear her down.

There is a real parallel in this adult novel, and Lucy's temptation in the VDT. One of the reasons why C.S.Lewis got into so much trouble with some critics is that they have interpreted his stance as an anti-woman one, and a glorification of men. We discussed this in Dr Brown's paper on the old Narniaweb forum, especially how it applied to Susan.

Presumably these critics have no problem with womens' real life choice to cover their faces according to some Islamic beliefs, even in countries like UK, where it certainly isn't compulsory or the country's practice for women to cover their faces in public. I think the idea is that good women should keep their beauty for their husbands' inspection, and for nobody else. But whilst this also happens in C.S.Lewis' novel, it isn't a woman's beauty that is being hidden, and the character who does hide face and identity behind a veil goes on to be revered as a just and wise ruler. I hope that isn't giving too much away.

All the same, one feels for Lucy. It is hard to be compared continually to an older sister who seems to have it all. The problem for me with her temptation is that the spell would give beauty above all others, not only her sister, Susan, whom Lucy, underneath it all, still loves deeply. And yes, such beauty can cause real havoc and destruction of relationships, not least for the owner of the beauty. For if jealousy is a Deadly Sin, being targeted by someone else's jealousy is not nice either.

But I don't think it is Jealousy or Greed that is Lucy's problem either on Coriakin's Island or at Deathwater Island. Lucy does have a tendency to generalise, and such generalisations do tend to separate people into us and them. 'Boys are such swaggering, bullying idiots', she said. Presumably 'us girls' aren't ever tempted to also swagger and bully when and if we find we have succeeded in outshining others. And although Caspian and Edmund are arguing, it isn't a fair judgement for Lucy to make - in my opinion, anyway. Don't know what you think yet. ;)

But it's also a kind of spiritual death to Caspian and his friends. Why? Greed.


Maybe....Caspian is tempted by the island, yes. But it isn't simply greed for himself. If he just wanted instant money, he could have helped himself earlier to the dragon's hoard, like Eustace did, though there might have been some consequences if he did. After all, the dragon's hoard isn't a Narnian version of an ATM, and the bulk of the items originally belonged to someone else, just like Octesian's arm ring. Caspian wanted, not himself personally, but Narnia, his kingdom, to be the richest country in the world. Again one can feel for Caspian.

Remember Gumpas' economic statistics? And that there were Calormenes around happy to spread their cash around to buy slaves? If Caspian had a reliable and a secret source of wealth he needn't worry so much about possible Calormene warlike intentions now that one source of slaves had dried up. Calormen would respect a nation wealthier than they are, or would they? The trouble is, that wealthy kings and nations can become a mite too arrogant, such as Calormen has already become. Caspian also reflects this tendency to arrogance when he forgets that strictly speaking the Pevensies, even Eustace, are not his subjects, even if Reepicheep is, and that he can't 'bind them to secrecy on pain of death'.

I assume you're referring to "Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies" [23:5]. It's a good reference!....
3. In Bible times, a meal signified communion or fellowship. To eat and drink with someone showed you agreed with or supported them.


Just so. And I did mean that quote from Psalm 23, second last verse of the hymn, just as you guessed. And yes, your other New Testament quotes are why we celebrate Holy Communion. But there wasn't much harmony and agreement when the three last lords argued over dinner, their three differing points of view, when one picked up the Stone Knife, and all three fell asleep. And when the Dawn Treader travellers sat down at the same table, they seemed to agree they were too scared to eat. That is why I preferred the Psalm 23 quote. (A table thou has furnished in presence of my foes; My head thou dost with oil anoint. And my cup overflows).

Exactly what do you think the Stone Knife was doing there anyway? And why is Edmund suspicious of Ramandu's daughter?
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Nov 03, 2009 6:38 pm

Boy, you two have been busy, waggawerewolf27 and 220chrisTian. I hope you don’t mind if I join the conversation (not that you have much choice since I’m doing it anyway ;) ;)) ).
waggawerewolf27 wrote:Mercifully, C.S.Lewis doesn't appear to share those 'women needn't study or work hard as they are only going to get married' attitudes, not in VDT at any rate. Or does he, when he has Lucy being tempted by the beauty spell? Or when Susan goes off to America, an apparent reward for 'not being any good at schoolwork'.

I’m not sure if this is just the way I read it or the way he meant it; but I always got the idea that Lewis rather disapproved that she wasn’t good at school work. I read the line about Susan’s getting far more out of the trip as being horribly condescending to the younger two. The “grown-ups” seems to believe that Susan is worth more because of her beauty. I think Lewis is showing that this is not the case. When Lucy is tempted by the beauty spell, Aslan appears to stop her. Lucy, Susan, and the “grown-ups” had the wrong idea that beauty was to be desired above all else. Where does Susan’s beauty get her in the end? I think it contributes to her being too interested in nylons, lipstick, and invitations. On the other hand, I wonder if Susan and Mrs. Pevensie were expected to attend Mr. Pevensie's lectures or if they did their own thing while he was doing that. If they did attend, maybe they hoped that Susan would learn something. Depending on what they did and where they went, a trip to America could be very educational (in a school subject type way). I rather think, however, it is more along the lines that Susan is more “worldly” and had the necessary qualities to mix with grownups. I’m guessing she would be the type that would thrive in social gatherings. Although in LWW the children do not want to tag along with a bunch of grownups, I think by VDT Susan would want to be in grown up social settings. That is probably what is meant by being old for her age. If, as 220chrisTian presumed, Lucy and Edmund are the intelligent ones, they end up in the long run far better off than Susan. Sure for that summer it would probably feel a bit like a punishment, but in the end they end up not worried about material things and in Aslan’s Country.

I hope my post makes sense. I know what I mean but I'm not sure it came out right. I intend to be back to say more.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Nov 04, 2009 2:23 pm

Thanks for joining the conversation, Pattertwig! :ymhug:

Your post made sense to me, especially this part:
The “grown-ups” seems to believe that Susan is worth more because of her beauty. I think Lewis is showing that this is not the case. When Lucy is tempted by the beauty spell, Aslan appears to stop her. Lucy, Susan, and the “grown-ups” had the wrong idea that beauty was to be desired above all else. Where does Susan’s beauty get her in the end? I think it contributes to her being too interested in nylons, lipstick, and invitations. ... If, as 220chrisTian presumed, Lucy and Edmund are the intelligent ones, they end up in the long run far better off than Susan. Sure for that summer it would probably feel a bit like a punishment, but in the end they end up not worried about material things and in Aslan’s Country.
Love the insight. I completely agree. :)

wagga wrote:Or more to the point, Lucy is letting herself be distracted from the job at hand by her focus on herself. When she first looked at the spell book her focus was on the task at hand, as it should have remained if she thought more of what she had to do and what Aslan wanted her to do, and less of herself, and her life on Earth.
Thanks. Why didn't I think of this? :ymblushing:

wagga wrote:Exactly what do you think the Stone Knife was doing there anyway?
Well, I posted earlier in this thread, maybe on page 3,
And what about Aslan's table? It has on it the knife the White Witch used to kill Aslan at the Stone Table. This table is like our communion: it shows the Lord's death until He comes again, and foreshadows the marriage supper of the Lamb. The food is eaten and renewed every day, like manna in the desert [Exodus 16]. It shows our dependence on God for daily physical and spiritual sustenance. And what did Jesus say in John 6? He said, "I am the bread of life," the true manna. And how do we partake? Calvary. At the Lord's supper, we partake of Christ's flesh and blood. ... What is the ever-repeated method of victory in the Bible? Sacrifice. What is the method of victory in LWW [and VDT]? Sacrifice.
It also occurred to me that the knife is Aslan's property, not the witch's. In Revelation [1:18] Jesus tells John, "I am he that liveth and was dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen, and have the keys of hell and of death." My mom used to give the illustration that Jesus stood there and dangled the keys as He said this. How did Jesus get those keys from Satan? Through the cross! Ephesians 4:8: "Wherefore He saith, 'When He ascended up on high, He led captivity captive and gave gifts unto men'" [also Psalm 68:18]. Colossians 1:15: "And having spoiled principalities and powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it." The cross of Christ, the blood of Christ: these are two weapons of our spiritual warfare, and of victory [2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18]. :)
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Nov 04, 2009 7:08 pm

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I agree with you that Susan going to America is a bit more serious. I don't necessarily see her as an airhead, merely someone who doesn't see schoolwork as the most important of her priorities. After all, she is so good at giving advice to others, now isn't she?

Susan has plenty of common sense and perhaps a bit more than is good for her. By that, I mean she wants to rely solely on her own common sense and practical thinking, making it impossible at times to have faith in Aslan. I would consider an airhead someone without common sense. Susan apparently lacks “book smarts” or perhaps the motivation to do well in school. People who are good in school do not always have common sense. I would assume it would also go the other way.

waggawerewolf27 wrote: It isn't wanting to be pretty that is the problem, really. It is the idea that one has to be prettier than someone else, and how that competitiveness supports the whole ethos of the fashion industry.


waggawerewolf27 wrote: All the same, one feels for Lucy. It is hard to be compared continually to an older sister who seems to have it all. The problem for me with her temptation is that the spell would give beauty above all others, not only her sister, Susan, whom Lucy, underneath it all, still loves deeply. And yes, such beauty can cause real havoc and destruction of relationships, not least for the owner of the beauty. For if jealousy is a Deadly Sin, being targeted by someone else's jealousy is not nice either.

I agree that the problem is wanting to be prettier than someone else. Wanting to look pretty or the best one can look can be helpful. For example, it is helpful to dress nicely if you want to make a good impression in a job interview. However, how one dresses / how pretty one is should never be what that person relies on to make it in the world. Susan is probably relying only on her beauty to make it in the world, and the sad thing is that the grownups in her life seem to be encouraging that. My mom was just reading about permanent makeup, and my sister asked why anyone would want to do that. My mom mentioned that what some brides fear most about marriage is that their husbands will see them without their makeup! 8-| Talk about problems. :p

I’m not sure Lucy really wanted to be more beautiful than everyone else. She doesn’t say that she will say the spell until she sees that it will make her more beautiful than her sister. I can’t imagine that tender hearted Lucy would really want all of those people to die for her. But I can see Lucy wanting to be more beautiful than Susan to get attention.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Nov 05, 2009 3:30 am

I hope you don’t mind if I join the conversation (not that you have much choice since I’m doing it anyway)
(pattertwigs pal)

Like 220christian says, thank you, and of course you are very welcome to join in the conversation here, as is anyone else with a mind to do so. :) All that I regret is that we haven’t discussed in similar fashion, other Narnia chronicles, such as Magician’s Nephew and the Horse and His Boy. Or even Silver Chair, though the thread has been opened for some while. For myself, I’ve been having a lot of difficulty in getting on to the NarniaWeb forum, and the Narnia and Christianity part of it, in particular. I keep getting thrown off, and the quotes don't behave themselves properly

I’m not sure if this is just the way I read it or the way he meant it; but I always got the idea that Lewis rather disapproved that she wasn’t good at school work. I read the line about Susan’s getting far more out of the trip as being horribly condescending to the younger two. The “grown-ups” seems to believe that Susan is worth more because of her beauty.


You could be right. I remember a nursery rhyme (Where are you going my pretty maid?), which included a line “My face is my fortune, Sir” she said. And the pre-Women’s Lib ethos of the 1950’s definitely encouraged such thinking. But when we first meet her in LWW, Susan was definitely a reader. On page 11 of my edition, when it is raining, it is Susan who says they are well off since there is a radio and plenty of books. What happened to her since?

Well, one clue is the animals each of the younger Pevensies hope to see. Lucy nominates a badger, Edmund suggests a fox, whilst Susan picks a rabbit. And yes, Susan is a bit timid, isn’t she? I’ve mentioned before that I counted at least 10 references in LWW where Susan says she doesn’t like the situation she is in, pleads caution, or else suggested that they all should go home, including when they came back to Lantern Waste at the end. Add in her HHB brush with Rabadash, and its outcome, plus her reluctance to believe that Lucy did see Aslan in PC, what you get is someone who ‘listens to fears’.

I’m not saying you are wrong about the common sense. But common sense is also needed if you are to pass exams and make good use of schoolwork. Susan might have been prudence personified, but even prudence needs to be tempered by the courage to try new things, and not simply go along with the ‘don’t you bother your pretty head about that sort of thing’ crowd, which is what Susan was doing when she thought ‘invitations’ were her top priority. And yes, I got the impression that C.S.Lewis didn’t approve of what Susan was doing, when he had Aunt Polly say that Susan wasted her time at school in her hurry to get to the age she is. In fact, that is the impression he gave in his ‘Letters to children’.

I think that the explanation C.S.Lewis gives is just the formal explanation one gives to ‘outsiders’. Given the description of what Eustace’s parents were like, I’d imagine they wouldn’t have accepted Susan the beautiful and gentle around anyway. Eustace’s parents were into ‘new age’ thinking, and probably were good at macramé. It was as much as they could do to tolerate Lucy and Edmund, whom they blamed for the change in Eustace. And despite their envy of Susan, when Lucy, Edmund and Eustace went off to Narnia, they were being treated to a life changing experience that they would treasure all the days of their lives.

It also occurred to me that the knife is Aslan's property, not the witch's.
(220christian)

Interesting thought! Now it never occurred to me whose property the knife is. All that I noticed was Ramandu’s daughter saying that it was a thing that was not right for the three remaining Lords to touch. And I wonder why. I missed your connection between Aslan’s table, the Lord’s table, the New Testament references and the idea of Holy Communion, mainly because of the three way dissention which grew up between Lords East, Mustard and Home, as pattertwigs pal called them. I agree it would be right to say it is Aslan’s property, since he was able to triumph over the White Witch. But still the knife seems to Lucy to be an evil thing.

The idea of keys is a good one too. Isn’t St Peter keeper of the keys? And isn’t Jesus often portrayed as knocking on a door?

According to the book, the spell was ‘An infallible spell to make beautiful her that uttereth it beyond the lot of mortals’. That is what Lucy first noticed, despite a blaze of pictures. Of course that would make her better looking than Susan.
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Nov 05, 2009 2:35 pm

wagga wrote:The idea of keys is a good one too. Isn’t St Peter keeper of the keys?
Revelation 1:18 ... Jesus holds the keys of death and hell, not Peter. Will he be standing at the gate of heaven? I doubt it. I consider that a myth. "The keys of the kingdom of heaven" [Matthew 16:19] that Jesus gave Peter He also gave to all of us. I bind and loose things all the time. ;) [Note: the pronoun "thee" -- "I will give unto thee" -- in 16:19 can have both singular and plural meanings, depending on the context.]

wagga wrote:And isn’t Jesus often portrayed as knocking on a door?
Revelation 3:20: "Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear My voice and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with Me." Context: Jesus' message to the Laodicean church. I've seen many beautiful paintings of this scene. Compare this verse with Song of Solomon [Christ and His bride] 5:2: "I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, 'Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled, for my head is filled with dew and my locks with the drops of the night." :)

wagga wrote:All that I noticed was Ramandu’s daughter saying that it was a thing that was not right for the three remaining Lords to touch. And I wonder why. ... But still the knife seems to Lucy to be an evil thing.
Something to think about... :)

Gotta run... :(
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Nov 05, 2009 6:11 pm

220chrisTian wrote:
wagga wrote:All that I noticed was Ramandu’s daughter saying that it was a thing that was not right for the three remaining Lords to touch. And I wonder why. ... But still the knife seems to Lucy to be an evil thing.
Something to think about... :)

In Narnia the stone knife was the tool by which Aslan died in order to safe Edmund and Narnia; thus, it would be considered a holy item. The three Lords certainly were not in the right frame of mind to touch it for one thing. I think it might be kind of like the arc of the convent in the Old Testament. Someone touched that in an improper way and was killed on the spot. As for Lucy's opinion of it, she witnessed Aslan's death and saw the knife in use. She knew firsthand what it did. Although Aslan came to life again, he still died and Lucy went through the grief associated with it. It was evil because it killed Aslan. It is holy because it killed Aslan and he came to life again. I think any of the women with Jesus when he died would have a similar feeling. We see the cross as a sign of his love for us and his victory over death. They would see it as a symbol of their grief and the evil that was done to him. Although we could not be saved without Jesus’ dying, it is still evil to kill God. I hope this makes sense (I seem to type that a lot). I’ve had a long day and am tired and I don’t always write clearly when I’m tired. (-|
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Re: Christian Themes in the Dawn Treader

Postby 220chrisTian » Nov 06, 2009 2:05 pm

Pattertwigs Pal wrote:In Narnia the stone knife was the tool by which Aslan died in order to safe Edmund and Narnia; thus, it would be considered a holy item. The three Lords certainly were not in the right frame of mind to touch it for one thing. I think it might be kind of like the arc of the convent in the Old Testament. Someone touched that in an improper way and was killed on the spot.
Wow! Thanks, Pattertwig! It's just like communion, the body and blood of the Lord Jesus. They're holy, even though a visible reminder of Christ's death on a cross. When we take communion, we must examine ourselves spiritually. Those who don't "eat and drink damnation to themselves ... For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep" [1 Corinthians 11:29-30]. The warning in Hebrews [10:28-29] is even sterner: "Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?" :(

1. Pattertwig, I know you meant "ark of the covenant." ;)
2. Everyone else: the story Pattertwig is talking about is when King David gets the priests to carry the ark to Jerusalem [they do so improperly] and Uzziah touches it [no one was allowed to touch it]. See 2 Samuel 6:1-11 and 1 Chronicles 13:6-14.

While writing this, I suddenly thought of other biblical parallels. :p
1. Esau's birthright! He thought nothing of it and sold his birthright to Jacob for some food. See Genesis 25 and 27, and Hebrews 12.
2. While Israel was in Babylonian captivity, King Belshazzar "drank wine" out of temple vessels [which were considered sacred by being used in temple worship] "and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone" [Daniel 5:4]. God judged Belshazzar by letting him be killed by the Medes and Persians that night and by stripping the kingdom from Babylon. I'm not sure, but I think this came up in the CRP thread a few month ago. :-\
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