Sunday, April 18, 2010

George MacDonald

As I fumble my way through the endless supply of stuff I Really Should Read, I've finally gotten around to George MacDonald.

MacDonald is a mystic Scot from the 19th century, one who was driven from the one church he ever served for his heretically open-minded views. He lived the life of a pauper and remains somewhat obscure.

His influences, though, are deep. Lewis Carroll might not have published Alice in Wonderland were it not for MacDonald. J.R.R. Tolkien acknowledged some of MacDonald's work as being formative. But it was C.S. Lewis who was most intensely changed by his intersection with MacDonald's writing and theology, to the point of declaring MacDonald to be his spiritual teacher. Given the influence Lewis had...and still has...over my own faith, it was high time for me to check out MacDonald's writings.

MacDonald was mostly a novelist, who spun tales of magic and mystery that were suffused with his faith. I'm intending to get to those later. No, really. I will. Phantastes and Lilith are going to work their way through my consciousness in the very near future.

Two of his books now grace my nightstand. One is a collection of devotional poems entitled "Diary of an Old Soul," intended to be read daily over a year. The second is C.S. Lewises own anthology of MacDonald's key teachings, the ones the were most formative to his thought.

I'm looking forward to it. A bit of reading is good for the soul, particularly if it's the right reading.