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George MacDonald (1)

May 7, 2009

Over fifteen years ago, I wrote an Anthology of some of the Christian thought of the great nineteenth century poet, story-teller and preacher, George MacDonald, and called it “The Wind from the Stars”. I knew and loved the 1940’s anthology written by C.S. Lewis, but it was quite short, probably owing to wartime paper restrictions. So I determined to make a longer collection, and to try to make extracts from all MacDonald’s works.

The more I read of MacDonald, the more I  began to understand how he had been a source of inspiration for not only C.S. Lewis (who called him “my master”), but also for G. K. Chesterton,Charles Williams and Tolkien. In novels, poems, sermons, MacDonald shows evil being overcome by goodness, pain by courage, dullness by humour. Above all, they show death being overcome by life. He deals with the deep mysteries of God and proclaims “good news from heaven”.

So in a series of these blogs, I’d like to share George MacDonald with you. Of course, many of you will know him already, but for those who do not, I hope I can entice you to read him. You will never regret it.

I first met MacDonald at an early age, when I read some of his children’s books: “The Princess and the Goblin”; “The Princess and Curdie”; “At the Back of the North Wind” etc. Like all the best children’s books they never talk down to their audience, and in the same way as the children’s books of Lewis Carroll or Kenneth Graham, they can be read profitably and enjoyably by adults.

Later, through the enthusiasm of Marion Lochhead, a Scottish writer and a member of my congregation at St Michael & All Saints, Edinburgh, I met MacDonald’s novels. Much later I read his theological works. And yet I found it was almost unnecessary to read these latter, because all MacDonald’s deepest Christian thinking and insights are contained in his novels, poetry, fantasies and children’s stories – as I hope to show in further blogs.

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