THE TRUTH, THE LIE, AND THE LAST BATTLE

May 30, 2013 by tjefferson2076

This is an awesome piece written by Troy Hinkel at http://www.prayerandperspective.com/2013/05/the-truth-the-lie-and-the-last-battle/

Any commentary by a mere mortal such as myself will do it injustice, so here it is in full:

The thing that bugs me most about all of the unfolding scandals and problems sprouting and spreading in our culture is the manifest inability for people to distinguish truth from fiction.  Worse, I fear that people are growing disinterested from even pursuing the truth. It seems as though we have taken Pilate’s words to Jesus, “What is truth,” as our own. When a political figure utters all kinds of obvious falsehoods to the media-fed public that is too distracted, disinterested, skeptical, or cynical to notice, this is horribly frustrating and frightening, and has led to a series of inconsistent and sometimes contrary states of affairs.

For instance, when President Obama made his speech to Planned Parenthood recently and thanked them for the hard work that they do to make parenthood possible, and then invoked God’s blessing on their brutal assault on life in the womb, his contradictory platitudes were mostly received with approval, with only a thin minority in the media expressing shock or outrage.   Similarly, when debating atheists, my colleagues and I are always vexed at the atheist’s ability to take whatever point we are trying to make and twist it to his advantage. “You say that your God shows mercy to the sinner, but why did He make such evil people in the first place?” Try criticizing Obama in a room full of college students or professors and regardless of the evidence provided, you will be judged personally, and your evidence will be ignored or explained away.

It is becoming commonplace to disdain authority when it is authoritative (meaning when those in authority are held accountable to the truth), and rally around authority when it is authoritarian (complete lack of accountability to the truth).  Benghazi, the AP and Fox news phone-tapping and email snooping, the IRS targeting groups at odds with the President’s agenda, Federal Programs that proffered assault weapons to drug cartels only to hide behind executive privilege in order to avoid scrutiny,  etc. are all examples of unaccountable government leaders. What gives? This absurd situation is as troubling as it is perplexing.

I have spent many an evening racking collective brains with friends over a glass of scotch dissecting such strange affairs. Recently, a friend of mine asked me when the last time was that I read C.S. Lewis’ conclusion to his Narnia series, The Last Battle? Hmm. I thought for a minute, and then realized I had never read that particular book! He couldn’t believe it, and assigned it to me as homework like a high school English teacher. “That way we can discuss it next time we get together,” which was all the inspiration that I needed.

I don’t intend to offer this post as a book review for this great story. Instead, I encourage you to read it for yourself. I do, however, want to offer some of the more prophetic and insightful points from Lewis that help me make more sense out of what is going on.

There are many profound themes Lewis skillfully weaves through his book: manipulation of sentiment versus pursuing the truth, ends justifying means, cynicism versus conversion, as well as a scary portrait of the minimum necessary conditions needed for evil to appear triumphant over good. Lewis, like any Christian, knows that evil can never totally triumph. But he also knew that there would be conditions unfolding in the future paving the way for the anti-Christ, or, in this case, Tash, the anti-Aslan. His main premise, I think, is that once people lose contact with their King, Aslan, they also lose sight of his teachings and decrees. Once this happens, they become susceptible to deception; they begin to find it difficult to determine the truth. Hmm. That sounded familiar.

Shift, the wicked ape, had dressed up a dull-witted donkey neighbor of his named Puzzle with a lion skin. He then duped Puzzle into impersonating Aslan who was believed to be away on an extended hiatus and was thus all but forgotten. Shift does this, he explains to Puzzle, in order to “set things right.”Puzzle’s weakness is revealed in the fact that he is small of mind but big of heart. Hence, he is prone to Shift’s clever manipulations by means of sentimental appeals over reason.  I couldn’t help but draw current comparisons. How easily sentiment trumps moral reasoning for us moderns. ‘Setting things right,’ and/or Shift’s justification to committing atrocities in order to earn money for “everybody’s good,” sounded a little too familiar. When our leaders justify their antics by appeals to equality and fairness while overlooking frontal assaults to human dignity and attacks on the family, I can’t help but recognize similar manipulations. Whenever Puzzle is puzzled by Shift’s shiftless tactics, he is either flattered so as to go along with Shift’s plan, or insulted for questioning one who is so evidently superior in intellect to himself.  In either case, his protests go unheeded.

As the story progresses, the protagonists grow ever certain that their fight for the truth will end in their own destruction. It seemed that no matter what evidence they produced to reveal the evil designs of their enemies, their plans failed and were turned against them. Why was this so? Because the Narnians had lost touch with Aslan and were easily placated with Shift’s phrase, ‘remember, Aslan is not a tame lion.’ Although true, Shift was able to control his people by twisting its meaning. This was Lewis’ singular insight in this tale: “Jill looked at the king; his mouth was open and his face was full of horror. Then she understood the devilish cunning of the enemies’ plan. By mixing a little truth with error, they made their lie far stronger.” The scariest result of Shift’s plan was revealed in the response of the dwarves. Upon hearing King Tirian’s explanation that they have been duped, they respond to Tirian with skepticism and cynicism.  “The dwarves at once began repeating, ‘not a tame lion, not a tame lion,’ in a jeering sing-song. ‘That’s what the other lot kept telling us.” In the end, Tirian and his friends fought the last battle seemingly alone. At the height of the apparent futility of their efforts, Aslan returns. I don’t want to spoil the ending, but his return epitomizes poetic justice.

What did I take from this tale? I must not lose touch with my King, Jesus. I must redouble my efforts to stay close to Him in prayer and sacrament, and continue to root out my faults through His grace. Next, I must study His decrees and teachings in order to recognize His truth and not be confused by those uttering falsehood and blasphemy in His name. Third, the ability and willingness to follow the truth wherever it may lead is possible only through repentance and conversion. Those who fail to do this will not be able to detect falsehood from truth. Finally, we fight the battle, but the victory is Aslan’s, er, Christ’s!

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