“It is a lovely place, my house,” said the Queen. “I am sure you would like it. There are whole rooms full of Turkish Delight, and what’s more, I have no children of my own. I want a nice boy whom I could bring up as a Prince and who would be King of Narnia when I am gone…” (C.S. Lewis)
As we move deeper into our conversation about Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, we come to the place where we must consider the great antagonist: the White Witch. She calls herself the “Queen” of Narnia, though she is, in fact, the great curse on the land.
Her name, Jadis, means “of old,” which is appropriate given her age of more than one thousand years. She is the child of a giant (beings that would wreak havoc on the gods’ plans in the Norse mythology) and a Jinn (the real Arabic for genie). She is cunning, manipulative, and cruel. She knows the words of the “Deep Magic” that have been written down and so believes she understands them. She twists them for her own purposes. She wants to keep the world cold and the peoples cut off from one another.
The Witch represents an incarnation of true evil. She is a depiction of everything that is against God’s purposes (no, being a woman is not one of those things). What is, however, is her ambition to control, her broken understanding of relationships as a means to an end, and her devious ability to scheme and craft a world devoid of the true Magic – that is, love.
Discussing the Witch raises many questions for us. Among them are what is God’s relationship to evil and what is ours. The challenge is to maintain the integrity of God’s self-revelation as we answer.
On the first hand is God’s relationship to evil. Contrary to what much of the Old Testament writings suggest, many of us believe that God is not the author of great atrocity – like genocide, mass murder, and plagues. It is not that God lacks the power, but rather that God has proven God’s self to not be evil. Even within the Hebrew Scriptures there are places and authors who believed that God was not the one behind such horrors. Moreover, Jesus certainly witnessed to the ultimate goodness of God, who loves with such passion. Yes, God may allow bad things to happen; but that does not mean that God causes them.
If evil is those things that are against God’s purpose and self, and if God’s purpose and self is Love – then evil is not as simple as a list of “wrong” actions. Evil takes on form then as both malicious intent and apathetic indifference. One is blatant and the other far more insidious. Both can easily masquerade as good intentions, and do quite often in our world. However, what all evil bears in common is the broken bodies, shattered spirits, and splintered creation that it leaves in its wake.
Our relationship with evil is even more complicated than God’s. For while God is clearly not evil, does not condone, nor cause evil – we are not God. We are creations, that while made good, also have the inheritance of millennia of transgressions written into our lives. Evil is the reality of our world. It is easier to give into and has taught us to fear the day when we do not. We have grown comfortable with little crimes, useful corruptions, and white lies. We have grown complacent with the worldview that “it’s all in God’s plan,” when what that really means is that we (1) credit God for committing terrible crimes, (2) we disregard evil as being necessary for us to see and do the good, (3) and we absolutely write off any complicity or responsibility for it on our own part. We live in fear that evil will win, but we are too afraid to do anything to stop it.
There is a reason why it has been winter for over one hundred years in Narnia.
But evil’s power does have a limit – God will not let it win in the end. What is more, just like the four Pevensie children, all daughters of Eve and sons of Adam (humans) have the chance to break down the evil that has such a stronghold. Some may be called to fight great battles. More of us, however, are called to the small works of God in every day of our lives. We are to bring life, to welcome strangers, to listen to the silenced, and, above all, to love with everything we have.