| |

Caspian X and “Progressives”

We’re listening to this fine book and this fine series once again right now (first time for my kids), and I’m struck again at how Lewis views so-called “progress.” Delightful. This notion is throughout the book, and the series, and indeed in much of Lewis. But here is one exchange that demonstrates it quite nicely. Isn’t it alarming what deeply evil things are often veiled in a black fog of “progress?”

“Tender as my years may be,” said Caspian, “I believe I understand the slave trade from within quite as well as your Sufficiency. And I do not see that it brings into the islands meat or bread or beer or wine or timber or cabbages or books or instruments of music or horses or armour or anything else worth having. But whether it does or not, it must be stopped.”

“But that would be putting the clock back,” gasped the Governor. “Have you no idea of progress, of development?”

“I have seen them both in an egg,” said Caspian. “We call it Going bad in Narnia. This trade must stop.”

C.S. Lewis, from The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

dawn_treader

(By the way, Caspian X = King Caspian the 10th.)

18 Comments

  1. Wait…are you saying that slavery was a liberal thing?! That “progressives” were the ones defending slavery?

    And any time you’d like to have the discussion on whether the overwhelming majority of Jesus’ teachings are progressive or conservative, I’ll be more than happy to join it.

  2. Hey Bob Zimmerman,

    Thanks for visiting, and feel free to use your real name –there’s no blacklist here. 🙂 I love Bob Dylan too, by the way.

    I regret I wasn’t able to respond until now. I have been away working all day and then have been at a funeral wake all evening -so I’m only now getting the chance.

    It was not my intention to describe slavery as a liberal position. I am sorry if that was confusing. This blogging thing is often an inarticulate business, especially when it’s me and I’m in a hurry.

    My point was to express that what we consider “progressive” is often morally evil, as in the example from the children’s story (slavery in the Lonely Islands was described in the story as progress by a character –see quote). But I did intend to allude to the great moral evil of feticide (killing very small boys and girls), which is often promoted as “progress.”

    The point was, and Lewis makes it a lot, that we must ask ourselves where we are progressing to. Progress, like “choice,” is not a moral barometer. It matters where we progress, and what we choose.

    I have a post in the works to address a common error among “conservatives,” as I hope not to be a partisan in that “war” as my defining value.

    I hope and pray that my defining value is the Gospel of Jesus for arrogant, selfish sinners like me.

    As for Jesus having, on balance, more recorded teaching in line with modern “progressives” than “conservatives,” that is maybe worth debating some. In a sense I care very much but in a greater sense I don’t much care. I think we need to go the other way around. That is, we ought to attempt to line up our own lives to Jesus’ teaching, not see if we can fit Jesus into our passion for a humanistic cause -be it left or right.

    Again, thanks for stopping by. Peace to you.

    Sam

    Ps. I am really tired, so this may not be as clear as I hope.

  3. Look, “Isn’t it alarming deeply evil things are often veiled in a black fog of “progress?” is an offensive statement.

    The governor in the story defends slavery as a means for progress, so you put progressive in scare-quotes as if C.S.Lewis’ story proves that a fictional character’s use of “progress” links his inhumane values with all progressives. As a liberal, progressive Christian, I find that pretty disgusting.

    “Right-to-Life”? Right-to-Birth is more like it. Because after that, you’re on your own, kid. You have the right to be born, but you don’t have the right to health care or decent housing or a living wage or even food because the fight for those things has always been left to progressives and therefore “deeply evil things…often veiled in a black fog of “progress”.

    Street level, non-“trickle-down” public policy advocacy for the poor is ALWAYS done solely by progressives and it isn’t just the core of Jesus’ teachings, it is nearly ALL of Jesus’ teachings.

    If you “hope not to be a partisan in that “war””, then you shouldn’t make statements such as “deeply evil things are often veiled in a black fog of ‘progress'” under the title “Caspian X and ‘Progressives'”.

  4. Look, “Isn’t it alarming deeply evil things are often veiled in a black fog of “progress?” is an offensive statement.

    No, it’s not. It’s a true statement. Deeply evil things are often veiled in a black fog of progress. That’s simply true. I’m not sure why anyone would be offended by that statement. Evil has been masked by both progressive political beliefs and conservative ones.

  5. Sam, you are a very “punny” man (all puns and quotation marks are intentional, and if not funny, at least annoying =)

  6. I agree with Travis above- it really is simply true. And for your one “liberal progressive Christian”, he seems to be saying that unless we do a better job of providing for little boys and girls it will remain more progressive to kill them early. Certainly Jesus (the One in Scripture) was not for that anymore than He was a community organizer.

    What is more to the point is your stress on the more important truth of the Gospel. Some will always be offended because the truth is often offensive, Never-the-less you’ve been more than fair.

  7. he seems to be saying that unless we do a better job of providing for little boys and girls it will remain more progressive to kill them early.

    Not more progressive, more humane since cognizance is the greater part of cruelty. If right-to-birthers/conservatives would spend as much time fighting for and ensuring quality of life as much as they demand quantity of life, they might have some moral standing to force a woman to make a lifelong commitment. But they don’t and they don’t.

    No matter how it’s spun, the post is obviously equating progressives with slavery proponents and that’s very much offensive.

    Now, if you’d kindly direct me the portion of “truth of the Gospel” that matches conservative values…

  8. No matter how it’s spun, the post is obviously equating progressives with slavery proponents and that’s very much offensive.

    The post is doing no such thing, and this has already been covered. The post is giving a literary example of an entirely different world where progressivism caused a certain type of evil, to illustrate that progress is not always a good thing – we need to be careful what we’re progressing toward. Come on, now. You really want to tell me that progressive, utopia-driven, humanity-loving agendas have never resulted in tyranny and oppression?

    Now, if you’d kindly direct me the portion of “truth of the Gospel” that matches conservative values…

    I think the point of follow-up comments is that everyone else in the conversation isn’t interested in forcing the gospel into the conservative vs. progressive debate. In other words, despite the fact that I could easily demonstrate where some values of conservatism match biblical values (as well as how some progressive values match some biblical values), no one else wants to play that game. The gospel is not a tool to win whatever side of America’s culture war you happen to be on. It corrects both sides and offers something different, better, and more healing to the world.

  9. I think any of us may slide into “excuse my excesses because your excesses are more onerous than mine” sort of mentality. I, speaking only for myself, cheer anyone who does anything which is an attempt to improve another’s lot. But all the postering in earth could never cover the most evil practice of infanticide, even by the most sincere and generous of us.

    Jesus scorching scribes, Pharisees, hypocrites about their selective adherance to the law said, “… these ye ought to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”

    That description certainly fits as advice we each can share with another. Starting with ourselves.

  10. But all the postering in earth could never cover the most evil practice of infanticide

    Infanticide is illegal, as it should be, and abortion is legal, as it should be.

    There is a very clear and distinct difference between the two, and it’s been one of my guiding philosophies that if I have to exaggerate the severity of something, the original must not be that bad.

  11. Since trying to inject calm reason into the discussion isn’t working, nor is trying to get the focus on the gospel rather which party Jesus supports, I’ll be a bit more provocative.

    If right-to-birthers/conservatives would spend as much time fighting for and ensuring quality of life as much as they demand quantity of life, they might have some moral standing to force a woman to make a lifelong commitment. But they don’t and they don’t.

    That’s nonsense, and either you know it and you’re ignoring it, or you’re willfully being ignorant and not learning a thing about the people you oppose. There are lots of Christians who believe abortion is wrong and care very much about quality of life.

    I’d get all “offended” by your broad-brush slam on “conservatives,” but I don’t see where Jesus recommended indulging in hurt feelings and being all offended all the time.

    Or consistently misrepresenting what someone has written in order to claim offense, for that matter.

  12. So you agree that government is the best entity to provide social safety nets? That affordable, accessible health care is a right?

  13. Killing children for convenience at any age is absolutely indefensable. Especially for someone claiming Christ. Definition of clinical terms not withdtanding, there is no “right” to murder one’s children. Peace to our self-proclaimed liberal Christian writer, may God bless your heart and change your mind.

  14. So you agree that government is the best entity to provide social safety nets? That affordable, accessible health care is a right?

    I’m sorry – what conversation are you having?

    You can’t possibly be equating one particular view of how health care can be done – that government should do it – with Jesus’ teaching and saying that anyone who cares about “quality of life” must obviously believe government should take care of X, Y, and Z social issues. You just can’t be.

  15. Well, we’ve had 200+ years to get everyone affordable, accessible health care by the private sector; how’s that going? What steps have conservatives taken to rectify the situation? What are your thoughts, as a Christian, as to how to get that done?

    Simply “caring” about quality of life is not enough.

    14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him?

    15 If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,

    16 And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

    17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

    So what’s your plan to feed, house, clothe, ensure health care for all who need it without government programs, Christian?

    It’s my opinion that progressives working to enact/expand government programs to help the poor is far more in keeping with Jesus’ teachings than anything conservative Christians do, and your snark isn’t enough to disprove it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.