C S Lewis popping up

It was when I was working at BT Labs, that I saw a notice in the (surprisingly good for a large working place) staff canteen which explicated C S Lewis’s Trilemma. To wit, this presupposes that Jesus must have been “Lord, Liar, or Lunatic”, whence one presumably is supposed to reach the conclusion that “Lord” is the only possible alternative. This has of course been criticised by better people than me, but at the time it was a new argument to me. As I mulled it over, I first realised that the options of course aren’t mutually exclusive. I can perfectly well imagine a god who is stark raving bonkers, and lying about it to boot. (Here’s one, for example.)

As I thought about it further, I defined my own quadrilemma, also of mutually non-exclusive alternatives: ”Mythical, Misguided, Misquoted, and/or Misunderstood”. Not that I think it will convince any believer, but I was rather proud of the alliteration, one letter up, and one alternative more. Take that, Lewis!

In other news, Ana Mardoll has, with the aid of her faithful commentariat, over the last few years, been doing close readings of the Narnia books and actually working out the consequences and implications of everything that happens in them. Not only do they find serious inconsistencies in how the world of Narnia supposedly works in terms of geography, time passing, political relations, etc, but also that the theology espoused boils down to “whatever Lewis personally enjoys (which is not particularly consistent either) is ordained by God”. Quelle surprise !

One does not have to require perfect consistency of stories, but as they say, once you’ve seen it you can’t unsee it. As it happened, as a child I read the Narnia books in internal order and completely failed to notice that they were supposed to be Christian allegories until I got to The Last Battle, where it was so heavy-handedly presented even I couldn’t miss it. I felt immensely betrayed – I had enjoyed the books for stories of adventure and meeting magical creatures. Realising it was all a trick in order to indoctrinate in a religion I even then had deemed irrelevant was, I imagine, somewhat like finding yourself in the forest with the weird man and no candy forthcoming.

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