You know all about Einstein? Well, on a day off from science he is reputed to have said:
If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.
I say “reputed” as there is now a lot on the net that he is credited with saying that is honestly quite questionable. But anyway, with your permission I want to return to the Narnia Chronicles and C.S.Lewis. If ever there was a person who could take a deep truth and explain it to a child here’s the man. Lewis, you giant amongst apologists, turning the debates of theologians into stories for children so good that even adults can understand.
In the last book, aptly named The Last Battle, we meet Emery a servant of the forces opposing Narnia. More than this he has an inherited religion that sees him serving a god other than Aslam, the might Lion, the god figure of Narnia. The god Emery has followed is Tash and Tash is one bad god. Human sacrifice, the works. But this is your national deity so, suck it up Emery.
The thing is, like all of us, Emery knows deep down inside, in his spirit if you like, what is right and what is wrong. Doesn’t it say somewhere in your religious texts that God will put the true laws in peoples hearts and minds? The gift of conscience? What John Milton referred to as God’s Umpire. And if this is the case then there is, in the final analysis, no excuse for our behaviour because we all know, intrinsically what is right and wrong.
Unknowingly, because of his adherence to conscience, Emery is living a quiet rebellion whilst believing he is continuing his worship of Tash. All is about to be revealed as he comes face to face with Aslam the Lion (please forgive the long quote but this is one of my favourite bits).
But the Glorious One bent down his golden head and touched my forehead with his tongue and said, Son, thou art welcome. But I said, Alas Lord, I am no son of thine but the servant of Tash. He answered, Child, all the service thou hast done to Tash, I account as service done to me…..For I and he are of such different kinds that no service which is vile can be done to me, and none which is not vile can be done to him. Therefore if any man swear by Tash and keep his oath for the oath’s sake, it is by me that he has truly sworn, though he know it not, and it is I who reward him. And if any man do a cruelty in my name, then, though he says the name Aslan, it is Tash whom he serves and by Tash his deed is accepted. Dost thou understand, Child? I said, Lord, thou knowest how much I understand. But I said also (for the truth constrained me), Yet I have been seeking Tash all my days. Beloved, said the Glorious One, unless thy desire had been for me thou wouldst not have sought so long and so truly. For all find what they truly seek.”C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle
The religious must find this troubling for Lewis has just thrown open the doors of exclusivity and invited everyone in. Christian, following your conscience in seeking God? Muslim following your conscience? Native American, led by conscience in your spirituality? Buddhist? Jehovahs Witness? If you have remained true to your conscience, whatever name you have used for the Source of everything, for Lewis it counts and will not go unnoticed.
May I remind you that God is bigger than the god of any of the religious systems that exist in this world. So often I think that religions have tried to hold God captive to their system, their understanding, their objectives. But, if I can use another Lewis quote: “Aslam is not a tame lion”. God, or Source for a little variety, is not held uniquely by any of the religious systems whatever they may claim. Lewis has seen through these claims. Omniscience aside, exclusivity is not something God knows about. If you choose a certain path to seek God, and for you it’s Christianity, follow it from your heart rather than mental adherence to a set of rules, letting your conscience be your vicar and your heart will guide you true. Your heart will not lie to you.
This is the root of true spirituality, the “still small voice within”. Do not allow it to be suppressed in the name of religion but rather let it tell you about all religions claims.
If it tells you something is wrong then, invariably it is. If it shows you a better path than the one those around you are choosing, take serous notice. I have said before, God talks to those who listen. Be a hearer and if your conscience shows you a different way, have your own quiet revolution.
Yours, trusting the Lion,