Saturday, August 7, 2010

Ezekiel Bulver, C.S. Lewis's pit bull

A short while ago, I wanted to find a picture of a politician who could represent Ezekiel Bulver — a fictional character whom C.S. Lewis once wrote about.pit-bull We could call him Lewis's pit bull; I'll explain in a moment. I was clipping this story of Ezekiel Bulver to post at Mere C.S. Lewis, a blog at which I offer daily readings from Lewis. I like to illustrate the readings with contemporary pictures, and, thus, I was searching for the perfect politician to represent Ezekiel Bulver.

Following Lewis' description, I needed to find a politician who never bothered to prove that their opponent was wrong, but instead would start by explaining why this opponent was wrong. Lewis gives a bit of a biography of Ezekiel Bulver, explaining that at age 5,

he heard his mother say to his father — who had been maintaining that two sides of a triangle were together greater than the third — ‘Oh you say that because you are a man.’ ‘At that moment’, E. Bulver assures us, ‘there flashed across my opening mind the great truth that refutation is no necessary part of argument.  Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet. (C.S. Lewis, "'Bulverism,'" God in the Dock, 273)

So, you can see, I needed a member of Parliament who was well known for standing up in Question Period to attack members of the Opposition and accuse them of fighting for causes without sufficient reasons, while he himself would claim that he and his government had solid reasons and not causes.

I chose John Baird to be a living representation of Ezekiel Bulver.  Unofficially, Baird is known as the Prime Minister's "pit bull."baird-fierce Officially, he was the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure —very visible in this last year as he played a key role in the implementation of Canada's economic stimulus plan. On Friday, the Prime Minister appointed John Baird to be the new House Leader —the member of the government who works with the opposition to try to ensure the passage of bills in the House. I cannot imagine any worse candidate for such a strategically important role. Obviously, the Prime Minister is looking for a fight. You send in the pit bull to attack not to negotiate. Ezekiel Bulver is not the man to sit down and reason with his opponents. He will either humiliate them and make them look stupid or, more likely, he will infuriate them and provoke them to act stupidly. In any case, I found it ironic that Stephen Harper would appoint the man I chose to represent Ezekiel Bulver to be the new House Leader, a role obviously not well-suited to Bulver or Baird, in my opinion.

Guess it's been a rather political post this time; maybe I'll get some Bulverish comments ;)  If you want to read more about Ezekiel Bulver from C.S. Lewis, check out the Ezekiel Bulver posts at Mere C.S. Lewis. And, in closing, one Scriptural principle for overcoming Bulverism is found in the Epistle of James:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because our anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. (James 1:19-20, TNIV)

CS Lewis warned that "until Bulverism is crushed, reason can play no effective part in human affairs" (274). As Christians, Lewis urges us not to be like Bulver, not even to be like pit bulls with lipstick. There is a better way, a more reasonable approach.

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