06 August 2013

Redemptive History and Edmund

In his delightful new book Echoes of Eden, Jerram Barrs identifies the themes of creation, fall, and redemption in Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. In reflecting on the theme of fall in this book, he zeroes in on Edmund.
The account of Edmund being brought under the witch’s sway is masterful, for this is indeed how evil works in our hearts and minds, appealing to our worst instincts, shrewdly summing up our character flaws and then exploiting them. She presents Edmund her treats as if they were generous gifts rather than instruments of deceit and control. The gifts of evil always have a cost (the Turkish delight and the hot chocolate drink) and do not satisfy, but rather enslave the one who receives them. Edmund begins to lie more and more and to deceive himself about the true nature of the Witch, about himself and about everyone else.

As he comes more under the Witch’s control the impact on Edmund is to make him ever angrier with his brother and sisters, meaner, more spiteful, more self-centered. All evil is like this for it destroys our humanity, making us less than who we are. We should notice too, that his deceit and betrayal do not make him happy, but rather more and more miserable. This is the true face of evil: it always reaps a harvest of destruction in our own lives and the lives of others. Choosing evil is a curse with many sorrows.

Indulging in evil has the effect of alienating, or separating, Edmund from others: from his brother and sisters, from the beavers and from all decent creatures. Choosing evil has the effect of alienating, or separating, Edmund from himself. His foolish choices make him very uncomfortable when Aslan is mentioned. In just this way all evil alienates, or separates, us from God. Edmund’s selected path has the effect of alienating, or separating, him from nature and from his proper place in this world, distorting his natural and right desire for dominion, and turning it into something mean and ugly. Like all of us Edmund was intended to rule in this world as God’s steward. Edmund becomes entranced by dreams of power. He imagines himself as king of Narnia, indulging his every whim and keeping others, especially his elder brother, Peter, in lower positions than himself. Evil has the effect of undermining his enjoyment of the beauty of creation. Just so, sin brings alienation into every area of our lives.

Yet, there is a note of hope, for Edmund is aware of what is happening in his own heart and he is not given up fully to evil. Instead we see the struggle that takes place in him, the memories of goodness in his heart, and above all his pity for the creatures enjoying their Christmas party – the squirrels, foxes and satyrs whom the witch turns to stone, even though Edmund intercedes on their behalf. It is this pity in him that gives us a glimmer of hope for his deliverance and restoration, for pity is at the heart of redemption.
--Jerram Barrs, Echoes of Eden: Reflections on Christianity, Literature, and the Arts (Crossway, 2013), 100-101

No comments: