I've gotten more public and private messages about this one panel than any others in the entire series, so many that I've been putting off individual answers so that I might write a more lengthy article that could deal with all of the questions and objections.
But that article keeps getting put off due to my current workload.
So, with the caveat that I may someday get to the long-version answer, here’s the short version:
First some general background: Narnia is my favorite fantasy series, bar none. Better (for me at least) than the remarkable Lord of the Rings and any other contender you might like to trot out. Problem is, Narnia isn’t in the public domain, so we couldn’t use it in Fables. So who is the lion mentioned in that one panel and what kingdom is depicted? I can’t say it’s Aslan and I can’t say it’s Narnia. But that doesn’t stop any of you from looking at the first lines of this paragraph and coming to your own conclusion.
Now, as to the objectionable comments. Both Kelsi and Kenneth pretty much nailed it. Maybe readers with the initials KP just get me. Here’s their quotes:
Kelsi Parker wrote:The point of the speech was that in the Homelands, they were self-centered and thought little of the other kingdoms -- regardless of their merit. And perhaps if you're an agnostic ruling the next kingdom over from him, you might say this. Either because he strikes you this way or because you'd like others to have this impression of them. Point being, speechwriter is/was themselves a pompus git. Doesn't need to mean it was true, doesn't mean Bill thinks this to be so.
Kenneth Pike wrote:I think everyone is misreading the Aslan quote.
Seriously, think about the context of the quote. Someone is saying, we didn't stop the Adversary because at first, we just didn't think that much about it. It's a self-criticism. It's a (probably deliberate) reference to the WW2 quote that begins, "When they came for the Jews, I did nothing, for I was not a Jew..."
Now, when life was good and the adversary was no threat, what did people think of Aslan? Well, they probably thought he was a little self-righteous. They probably didn't hate him, but face it, the greatest religious figures in history have never been the most well-received. Outside of Narnia, I have no doubt that Aslan was looked upon with a little bit of awe, a little bit of jealousy, and a little bit of peevish contempt.
I don't think the quote is writing Aslan or Christianity off. On the contrary, the implied criticism of Aslan is in fact, again, self-criticism. Perhaps Aslan brought the Adversary's wrath to Narnia by criticizing the empire, or even by mounting opposition or coming to the aid of another kingdom. "I thought of that lion as self-righteous, so I didn't say anything..." with the implied self-criticism of "Turns out he was just trying to save us all."
I agree that the tendency to "write-off" something deeply religious and meaningful is demonstrated often in our society, but I don't think Bill is demonstrating it here. One of the hardest things for people with deeply spiritual convictions to accept is that sometimes, "criticism" is not a bad thing... or even, in some cases, criticism at all.
Exactly. Here’s how that portion of King Cole’s comments might have gone, if we had a bit more room and a tendency to be a bit more obvious:
“Then they invaded the Kingdom of the Great Lion, but we still didn’t join together to resist the Adversary’s armies. We had plenty of excuses for our cowardice and short-sightedness, such as, ‘Well, that Lion was always too holier-than-thou for our tastes.’ But of course that was merely a manufactured excuse for our unconscionable failure to act. Boy were we dummies.”
Get it now? Cole was chastising himself and the other Fables for their failure to act in a timely manner and he was also chastising himself and other Fables for coming up with such feeble justifications and rationalizations such as the holier-than-thou comment.
Cole was saying if effect, no we didn’t really consider the Great Lion holier than thou, but we needed something to justify our criminal inaction and that was what we came up with.
Okay, that’s the answer. I hope those of you who read this will spread it around to others who have the same complaint. Thank you.