Advent is Aslan on the Move
And the Great Horns of the North Wildly Blowing
In a society that has become increasingly antagonistic to Christ as Lord, Advent takes on a richer meaning. The truths we linger on during Advent and Christmas are just as true as they’ve always been, but the opposition has made them more stark. The stakes have been raised. The words we used to say and sing as rote are now more potent. A word like “King” carries weightier implications now for a society that has been told by their government that it’s not safe to sing praises or take communion. Which Ruler will the Church obey?
We are living in what some people might call a darkening time. I’d be one of those people. Paul Kingsnorth is also one of those people and I’d encourage you to read his essay “The Vaccine Moment”. He paints a vivid picture of our current situation. It’s worth reading in its entirety but let’s skip a rock across his essay for the gist:
—Internment. Mandatory medication. Segregation of whole sections of society. Mass sackings. A drumbeat media consensus. The systematic censoring of dissent. The deliberate creation by the state and the press of a climate of fear and suspicion.
—Covid is a revelation. It has lain bare splits in the social fabric that were always there but could be ignored in better times. It has revealed the compliance of the legacy media and the power of Silicon Valley to curate and control the public conversation. It has confirmed the sly dishonesty of political leaders, and their ultimate obeisance to corporate power. It has shown up ‘The Science’ for the compromised ideology it is.
Most of all, it has revealed the authoritarian streak that lies beneath so many people, and which always emerges in fearful times. In the last month alone I have watched media commentators calling for censorship of their political opponents, philosophy professors justifying mass internment, and human rights lobby groups remaining silent about ‘vaccine passports.’ I have watched much of the political left transition openly into the authoritarian movement it probably always was, and countless ‘liberals’ campaigning against liberty. As freedom after freedom has been taken away, I have watched intellectual after intellectual justify it all.
—Control: this is the story of the times. Across the world we are seeing an unprecedented claim to control staked by the forces of the state, in alliance with the forces of corporate capital, over your life and mine.
—We are being herded into a future in which scanning a code to prove you are a safe and obedient member of society will be a permanent feature of life, as unquestioned as credit cards and driver’s licences. We are moving towards enforced mandatory vaccination of entire populations - including children - and prison sentences for those who refuse. By winter’s end, we could be living in a world in which the state has taken full charge of our bodies, and our only chance of remaining active members of society is to submit to their every instruction, and agree to permanent digital monitoring to prove our compliance.
—My own sense of foreboding is deepening daily. Beneath the surface, down in those depths, I am far from the only one who can see what is emerging. The Narrative does not hang together, the story does not gel, but it is doing its job nonetheless. It is being used to summon forth and justify an unprecedented authoritarian technocracy which is hemming us all in with no consent, no debate, and no right to opt out.
Cheery stuff, right? But it’s true. The shadows are lengthening. We are living in a time of encroaching tyranny and authoritarianism. Our rulers are both feckless and evil. The earthly powers have their tentacles wrapped around us and its tightening daily. And if you are a rousing supernaturalist like me, you believe that the Powers of Darkness are orchestrating all of this dehumanizing, whether it be through COVID regulations, racial strife, abortion advocacy, pre-school tranny indoctrination, or any of the other insane evils foisted upon us. Yes, these are dark times. So this is precisely why we need to celebrate Advent. Advent requires Darkness and Death. And Advent demands that we come face to face with the reality of our impossible situation.
When the armies of Sauron, orcs and trolls and wraiths and wicked men, spewed forth from Mordor and besieged the royal city of Gondor, Gandalf acknowledged the reality of the situation: “The Darkness has begun. There will be no dawn.” The Narnians understood their plight, that the White Witch had made it always winter and never Christmas. An enemy more powerful than you is at the gate. No! Has burst through the gate. An enemy has you running in fear, threatening to turn you to stone if you do not obey. The enemy is too strong. We cannot defeat them.
And this is the magic of Advent. For advent means “to come”. Advent is an arrival.
Back at the sundered Gate of Gondor came the Lord of the Nazgûl and all fled before him, all save Gandalf who bravely defied him. Yet, from the Black Rider’s unseen mouth came deadly laughter:
“Old fool!” he said. “Old fool! This is my hour. Do you not know Death when you see it? Die now and curse in vain! And with that he lifted high his sword and flames rand down the blade.
Gandalf did not move. And in that very moment, away behind in some courtyard of the City, a cock crowed. Shrill and clear he crowed, recking nothing of wizardry or war, welcoming only the morning that in the sky far above the shadows of death was coming with the dawn.
And as if in answer there came from far away another note. Horns, horns, horns. In dark Mindolluin’s sides they dimly echoed. Great horns of the North wildly blowing. Rohan had come at last.
In Narnia, Mr Beaver, that noble buck-toothed dissident, conspiratorially says to the children, “They say Aslan is on the move—perhaps has already landed.” Father Christmas confirms it: “Aslan is on the move. The Witch’s magic is weakening.“ Father Christmas himself is a sign of the enchantment beginning to break. The snow and ice begin to melt away and the long-awaited spring has finally come.
Advent is Aslan on the move. It’s the breaking of the oppressive spell. It is the coming of Spring after the long, horrid Winter.
Advent is the great horns of the North wildly blowing. It’s the annunciation of the dawn after the long dark night. It is the arrival of salvation.
This is how we are to think of Advent. This orients our observance and focuses our celebration. When Mr Beaver said the name of Aslan “Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.” And when the great horns of the North wildly blew “Pippin rose to his feet, as if a great weight had been lifted from from him; and he stood listening to the horns, and it seemed to him that they would break his heart with joy. And never in after years could he hear a horn blown in the distance without tears starting to his eyes.” This is Advent!
But Advent is more than the announcement of a deliverance which causes comfort and joy to well up within us. It is also the announcement of judgement which terrorizes all fiends and foes. When Edmund—before his conversion—heard Aslan’s name he “felt a sensation of mysterious horror.” When the White Witch heard Aslan was on the move she immediately took action with murder in her heart, seeking to kill children and snapping at her servants “If either of you mention that name again he shall be instantly killed.” The Black Rider at the Gate was, perhaps for the first time, shaken, “The darkness was breaking too soon, before the date that his Master had set for it: fortune had betrayed him for the moment, and the world had turned against him; victory was slipping from his grasp even as he stretched out his hand to seize it.”
One major thing to note: at the announcement of their impending doom, neither the White Witch nor the Black Rider gave up and laid down their arms. Indeed, they fought the fiercer. The battle did not cease. This too must be understood at Advent. The Powers of Darkness are raging. Our salvation is their doom but we’re still in the fight. But the good news is that we don’t fight alone. Christ’s first Advent upended the world ruled by darkness. A great Light had come and He called men out of darkness and into His marvelous light. The Enemy killed Him, but through His death He defeated Death and now all the Powers are in even more of a desperate fury. The end is sure but the battle still rages. We get to participate in tearing down enemy strongholds because of the Great Arrival of our Rescuer. It’s one thing to fight in desperation and fear. It’s an entirely different thing to fight with a merry heart filled to the brim with unearthly joy.
So, believer, don’t be discouraged when Darkness and Death and Disease and Terror and Oppression and Loneliness and Demons and Tyrants and Presidents and Scientists and Experts and Lawyers and Trannies and any other monstrous kindred of the devil seek to do their worst. Jesus has come and the Enemy is freaking the hell out. Our salvation and their snarls are a sign of their impending doom. Swing your sword with a smile. Rejoice! Emmanuel has come. Take heart. Aslan is on the move and the great horns of the North are wildly blowing.