“Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia”
Why then, does Susan not get to go Further up and Further in after the last battle?
God loves us, above all; He would never (I hope) chose to turn anyone away, for any reason. They will always be accepted as a King or Queen of Narnia if they chose to take up the mantle again. If I am wrong about that, my entire belief system crumbles, so please, if you disagree, can you disagree about some later point in the argument! So, since God loves us, He will never make anyone go to hell – He will give them as many chances at redemption as they need to be ready to go further up and further in (which is possible, through the crucifixion of Christ (deep magic from the dawn of time)). But, as I understand things, God is outside time, so it is not a case of sequential chances – one will not turn down the first chance and accept the second – the eventual effect becomes the immediate effect. If you are ever going to chose God, you do so so instantly and for all of eternity, there is no “time” of making ready, such a purgatory requires another, temporal world rather than the eternity of God.
So far so good, but surely there are some people who, with their free choice (I know, we can argue about free will some other time), choose to ignore God or turn away from him and convince themselves that God’s love isn’t actually there, like Susan, refusing to believe Lucy had seen Aslan in Prince Caspian. But, on that occasion, another chance did make Susan see the error of her ways – she was given as many chances as she needed, (since she was still within time this was not her final decision).
The dwarves, however, made their final choice, and have to live with it. I am afraid I think the dwarves do exist, i think there are people who would probably refuse to accept God’s love, though I have no idea who they are. Indeed, if such a thing as evil exists, this is what evil is, the choice to reject (consciously or subconsciously) love that is being offered, be it God’s omnibenevolence or a somewhat more limited human love (though that is still not something to be taken lightly). Acts are motivated by any number of circumstances, but mindsets can be truly evil, and the absence of love is, I think, what I understand to be hell. As I say, I have no idea who it is that, when faced with divine love, chooses to reject it, but I think such people must exist for no other reason than that, if they did not, the choice would be meaningless. If one option is not possible, the choice to accept (and return) God’s love ceases to be truly free. And if the love is not free, it is not love as I understand it, certainly it ceases to be significant or meaningful.
However, it is important to emphasise that God always chooses to love us, it is how we chose to respond to that love that leads us down one of two paths, the stable or Further up and Further in. The choice, in eternity, is immediate (so perhaps should not be understood as a choice) but it is the final and most true statement of who we are at our most basic.
Which, I suppose, brings me to Susan. She is left behind when everyone goes further up and further in, she was not on the train ot waiting at the platform as were the rest of the Pevancies, Jill, Eustace, Digory and Polly. Everyone else got to go Further Up and Further In, but not Susan. But it is vital to note that this is not her final choice, as it was not her final choice in Prince Caspian. Yes, she has lost her family, which will be unbearable, but Aslan has not shut her out, even if the story has apparently ended. She wont go back to Narnia as she is, but as she is, Narnia no longer exists. Further Up and Further In Narnia needs her to be different – to be dead and beyond the normal world of time. There is still hope for Susan, she may yet be a Queen of Narnia again.
Why, then, was she not on the train? If she can always be a Queen of Narnia, why did she cease to be a friend of Narnia?
This is where I defend Lewis to the hilt. Aslan does make it clear that Susan and Peter wont come back to Narnia at the end of Prince Caspian, as He does for Lucy and Edmund at the end of Dawn Treader, but He does not cut any of them off from him. They must “learn to know [Him] by another name” in their own world. Susan has, however, chosen not to remember the Alsan she knew, or look for Him in a new way. The reason given for this is that Susan is now only interested in “nylons, lipsticks and invitations”. I don’t think the point here is that puberty and (God forbid) original sin stops the young adults who had previously been to Narnia returning, but that, since they are growing up and (in theory) maturing, Aslan is no longer the right expression of the great “I Am” for the children to hold onto. Certainly, in The Horse and His Boy, Susan is allowed to be courting Princes and Sasha is mentioned as growing up and having children – Narnia is not some Eden like world from which you are excluded at the mere thought of Sex. It is a issue of being an immature self-centred madam (not to imply that it is an issue of gender either – I certainly don’t think this is the point, and I also don’t believe it is what Lewis intended). As Polly puts it “I wish she would grow up”. Susan is has simply decided to turn away from Narnia for no other reason than she think it silly and not what she should do (when of course she is really the one being silly).
Susan has managed to convince herself that Narnia is nothing more than a game, something childish to be abandoned. Indeed, perhaps life is important in making you ready as a person to consider God’s love in eternity, but I am not sure about that – whatever happens in this life can surely be overcome by the love of God in eternity if we were ever going to be in a position to accept it (certainly doctrinal faith itself cannot be important, or anyone born before 30AD would be right royally fucked). Susan is important for the very reason that her story is not yet over. Like the rest of us not in the Last Battle, she has the rest of her life to live and will, in due course, get the chance to go Further Up and Further In, and I see no reason that she might not jump at the opportunity. Of course, I don’t know what choice she will make, but hopefully she will once again realise that Lucy was right; that Aslan never left. Certainly, that choice is still before her.
I know I sound self assured, but that is as much to convince myself as you – it is all very muddled in my head. The one thing I do believe is that God loves us too much to mind if we are wrong or disagree – I am certainly wrong on many things, but the God I trust in will not begrudge me that. Any good done in the name of Tash is accepted by Aslan. My God would never willingly damn anyone.