I have heard such good things about the works of 19th century Scottish clergyman and writer George MacDonald, but have never read any of them for myself. The Princess and the Goblin is on my fourth grader’s reading list for next year, and I have recently started reading The Wise Woman with my two oldest girls. But yesterday I picked up one of George MacDonald’s books at the library just for me…The Parish Papers. It is actually three novels in a single volume. I am only seven chapters in but am loving it! It’s exactly what I wanted for some summer reading. I was a bit disappointed to see that it was “edited for today’s reader” as I would probably enjoy the flowery Victorian style, but I have heard that with MacDonald it’s his stories that are exceptional not necessarily the writing itself.
So I decided to dive in and enjoy the story. So far, it’s reminiscent of Jan Karon’s Father Tim novels…but set in rural England about a hundred years earlier. The first book follows a young vicar as he settles into a new village and gets acquainted with his sometimes peculiar parishioners. I find myself laughing out loud, but amid the entertainment and humor there are gems like this that leap out of nowhere and send me scrambling for my commonplace book.
…there are things so plainly wrong…both in the world and in myself, that it would be to me torturing despair to believe that God did not make the world, for then, how would it ever be put right? Therefore I prefer the theory that He has not done making it…you can’t say that what looks like a slip is really a slip, either in the design or in the workmanship. You do not know what end He has in view, and you may find someday that those slips were just the straight road to that very end.
It is a principle of mine never to push anything over the edge. When I am successful in any argument, my one dread is of humiliating my opponent. When a man reasons for victory and not for the truth in the other soul, he is sure of just one ally – the devil. The defeat of the intellect is not the object in fighting with the sword of the Spirit, but rather the acceptance of the heart.
Oh, if only more of us who claim to follow Christ could remember that!
Lord Bacon says, “So it is in contemplation: if a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties.”
All in all, these stories are proving a delightful and edifying escape on the rainy days of summer we are having this week!
One thought on “Summer Reading – discovering the gems of George MacDonald”
Such a pretty commonplace book! We read The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind last year and my kids adored his fairy-tale style and have begged to read more since then. I too had never read him before (though I had heard of him), so I was so grateful for the introduction to his work.
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