Cloudy with a Chance of Confusion: Obedience Clouded by Culture and the Importance of Memory for Virtuous Living in The Silver Chair (Theology through the Eyes of Fiction Series)

theology through the eyes of fictionHave you ever found yourself in a moment, having just sinned, and you can’t explain for the life of you why you have just done what you did? I know I have. In fact, most sin in my life is of this kind. I don’t want to sin, and yet sin continues to wage war against me and I sometimes lose that battle. I know better, but in the moment, I forget. Perhaps you know the feeling. It struck me that the commands of Scripture and how I should act in the midst of temptation are so clear when I’m reading them, yet they seem so cloudy when I’m confronted with them.

In The Silver Chair, I think the same is true for Jill. When on the mountain in Aslan’s Country, Jill receives signs from Aslan. She is to learn them and live by them when she goes into Narnia, but she fails time and again throughout the story because she forgets the signs. In fact, from almost the moment that she passes below the clouds into the Narnian air, she is bombarded with a clouded mind. Aslan even warns her of this reality. He says, “here on the mountain, the air is clear and your mind is clear; as you drop down into Narnia, the air will thicken. Take great care that it does not confuse your mind. And the signs which you have learned here will not look at all as you expect them to look, when you meet them there.” Jill’s constant struggle throughout the novel parallels, I think, the constant struggle for the Christian. When we are in God’s Word, we are, like Jill, in “Aslan’s Country.” But the moment we step away from God’s Word and enter our world, our mind is clouded by our culture. Everything around us has the potential to cloud our minds and distract us from obedience to God’s will. We would do well to remember Jill’s failures and follow the directives Aslan gives to her, for they are the same as Scripture’s. Remember the signs.

Scripture for us is analogous to the signs Aslan gives to Jill. We must hear it, memorize it, and live it. The importance of memory for virtuous living can therefore not be overstated. Repeatedly Scripture commands us to “remember.” Forgetfulness is the sin that led Israel to repeated idolatry. Forgetfulness is likewise the sin that leads to our anxiety, fear, and lack of trust. So enter God’s Word, remember the signs, and keep our minds clear in a cloudy culture.


Feature Image: Photo by Tomasz Sroka on Unsplash

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