C.S. Lewis and The Deplorable Word
For me, one of the most memorable scenes in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia occurs in The Magician’s Nephew when Digory and Polly travel to a world called Charn and find it completely dead. No blade of grass, no drop of water–all dead, all dust.
In the dead city of Charn they find a hall of perfectly preserved dead kings and queens of Charn. How did this happen?
Two queens, sisters, both of them incredibly powerful witches, battled each other to become the supreme ruler of all of Charn. There’s always someone who wants to become the Supreme Ruler of Bloody Everything. On the point of losing the war, Queen Jadis utters a spell, The Deplorable Word, which wipes out all life on Charn. Another spell, inadvertently activated by Digory, brings her back to life so she can go on to become the White Witch, supreme tyrant over Narnia, where she made it “always winter, but never Christmas.”
This was written in the 1950s, when fear of a world-destroying nuclear war was a new thing, and very real to many people. World War II was also fresh in memory. Can there be any doubt that Hitler, cornered in his bunker, would have spoken The Deplorable Word, if he’d had it?
When the Serpent seduced Eve with his “ye shall be as gods” snake-oil, he tapped into a fatal aspect of human nature that remains with us today–the desire to be, like God, supreme ruler over everything. But God has promised that honor to His Son, Jesus Christ; and instead of a Deplorable Word, God says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5)–thus highlighting the difference between a righteous, loving God and sinful, fallen man.
The lust to rule the world is still with us, in spades–in the U.N., in Washington, D.C., in Brussels, in ISIS, among the Global Warming mob, and liberally strewn throughout the minds of intellectuals.
But God is with us, too, and His word shall prevail.
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