I just finished the Chronicles of Narnia again. I continue to believe what I believed as a kid: that chapter twelve of "The Silver Chair" is one of the finest things ever written.
I'm repeatedly moved by how seductive the witch's enchantment is -- and that Puddleglum, the eternal cynic, is the only one who's resistant to it. The speech he gives -- claiming that, yes, we live in a fallen world, and that it's full of misery and degradation and bloodshed -- and that he still chooses to behave as though there was something better than that, in spite of evidence to the contrary -- is an intensely moving one to me.
So the reason I think that Puddleglum is Lewis' greatest creation is the same reason that I think that Angel is the greatest television show ever created -- that he espouses much the same philosophy in "Epiphany." And that philosophy is pretty much the centerpiece of "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant" -- that in his final battle against the Despiser, his triumph emerges from the fact that, yes, he believes that everything that he loves is an illusion that he conjured in his own mind -- and it's still worth dying for.
So, yeah. Puddleglum, Angel, Thomas Covenant -- I don't know what it is about all three of them that makes them so heroic to me. But I note that they're all cynics, all skeptics, who unflinchingly confront the worst that reality has to offer -- and all three of them still choose to behave in a way that's heroic. Not in spite of that fact, but because of it.
Heroism without hope -- true bravery that emerges from despair. That's something that's very close to my core theology. And something that, ultimately, is the antithesis of everything that Barack Obama preaches, and that his followers believe.