What is the Meaning of Aslan’s Name?

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What is the meaning of Aslan’s name in Narnia? I have always found it curious that the name of Aslan caused such different reactions in the Pevensie children. In fact, when I first read that passage, something jumped in me too:

“At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. 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.”

There was something relatable about it. Surprisingly, there was something relatable even in Edmund’s reaction to the name.

“But Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror.”

It felt like some judgment was going on. Not externally but internally. The name of Aslan was the ultimate revealer of what was in a person. It amplified the contents of your heart. If there was light in it, you could almost touch it. If there was darkness there, you couldn’t help but feel horror.

When I read John 3:19, it all came together:

“This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light.” 

What is the meaning of Aslan’s name in Narnia? When the light comes, it reveals what is. There’s nothing else to judge. Judgment is internal. It jumps from within us every moment we encounter the Light. We either delight in the light or hide from it. Depending on the state of my consciousness in the moment, the Light will either make me lighter or heavier.

The same curious thing happened in The Lord of the Rings when the company entered Lothlórien. The effect of entering the realm of the Lady was such that all the company felt the presence of some inexplicable magic.

For some, it was a delight. For others, torment. Tolkien seems to suggest that the whole land was Galadriel’s mirror — not just the stone mirror itself. As the fellowship walked through the enchanted wood, they saw their secret thoughts and desires revealed as if in a mirror.

Some liked it; others hated it. But they couldn’t hide from it. They stepped into a land of the Last Judgement unfolding 24/7. Galadriel wasn’t the Judge — she was the revealer of what was in each person’s heart. The Judgement was internal, not external.

For Boromir it was torment. For Aragorn, it was a delight. Boromir said,

“It is said that few come out who once go in; and of that few none have escaped unscathed.’ ‘Say not unscathed, but if you say unchanged, then maybe you will speak the truth,’ said Aragorn.”

In the final analysis, we are all judged by how we respond to our encounter with the Ultimate Beauty. For some, it is an eternal delight. For some, eternal torment. If you come with a pure heart, it is a delight. If you come with an idol, it is a curse.

The Light is always sweet for the one who allows it in. It is a horror to the one who doesn’t. The encounter with the Ultimate Beauty can be either heaven or hell — depending on what is inside one’s heart already.

What is St. Francis of Assisi Best Known For?

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What is St. Francis of Assisi best known for? In Franco Zeffirelli’s Brother Sun and Sister Moon, all of Francesco’s friends believe that Francesco is out of his mind. One by one, they go to the ruins of San Damiano, where Francesco single-handedly restores an old church, to reason with him and bring him back to his senses. However, after looking into his eyes, they join him — one by one.

It’s all about someone’s eyes. Subconsciously, we always look for the eyes that radiate divine electricity. That’s why we are mesmerized by children at play. We are mesmerized by birds, fish, mountains, rivers, and clouds. They all exude the light that we are drawn to and want to participate in.

All the greatest world movements start from catching that Divine electricity in someone’s eyes. The person creates a magnetic field that draws us in. They are like a magnet that creates an electric current in all conductors. You feel it stirring in you, and you want to pass it on.

All major movements were born out of that spark. As long as this initial spark is there, the movement exists and is alive. When that spark goes, the movement dies and gets institutionalized. The institution is what remains after the electricity is gone. It is the only way to keep the form where there’s no substance.

The scene in the Pope’s palace in Brother Sun and Sister Moon is telling. Pope Innocent III played by Alec Guinness sits on his high throne encircled by cardinals. When St. Francis walks in with his disciples, they look like a bunch of bums. They are dirty and dressed in rags. But something shines in their eyes.

As St. Francis talks about his vision, the camera zooms in on Pope’s eyes. With every sentence out of St. Francis’s mouth, his eyes grow bigger and bigger. You can tell that he is drawn in. The cardinals want to drive the vagabonds out, but the Pope rises from his seat and walks down the steps. And then, the most unexpected thing happens — he kneels before St. Francis and kisses his dirty feet.

There’s silence in the hall. No one knows what’s happening. Franco Zeffirelli’s camera zooms in on Alec Guinness’s eyes. You can tell that the Pope wants to join them. You can see it in his eyes. They sparkle. The cardinals see it too. They start panicking and pull him away from St. Francis. They put the tiara back on his head so he won’t be carried away.

After a moment of “insanity,” the Pope is reminded of his duties. The sparkle goes out of his eyes. He allows the cardinals to put all his papal regalia back on him. His eyes grow dim. He is the Pope again. The moment of insanity is gone. But you can see the immense sadness behind his eyes. He succumbs to his duties of being the head of the institution while his heart wants to be moved by the Divine electricity.

St. Francis stretches his hands toward him but is pulled further back by the cardinals. The church starts singing “Gloria in Excelsis Dei.” As St. Francis and his disciples leave, he turns around and looks back twice. He is searching for the Pope’s eyes. You can tell they are kindred spirits. But the camera never shows the Pope’s eyes. He is back in his role. The role that doesn’t allow for electricity.