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George MacDonald (9 & last!)

2009 May 24
by Gordon Reid

imagesGeorge Macdonald refused to take the picture of God as a stern judge, awful in justice, holiness and purity, and then interpret Jesus as his manifestation in (barely) human form. No, he did what has been done by all who have met and loved Jesus Christ: he adopted his picture of a father who literally didn’t give a damn about the arrogance, the selfishness, the promiscuity of the Prodigal Son, but saw him “while he was yet a great way off” – of course he did; he had never stopped scanning the brow of the hill, hoping his dear one would appear some day. The father ran to meet him, kissed him, shared the tears of his repentance and then threw a great party to welcome him back.

MacDonald interpreted every one of the attributes of God with this key of love. Of course he knew that God was just, but his justice was not that of a pitiless judge bound by the rule book, but was mitigated and tempered by the love of a father. MacDonald knew that God was omnipotent, but he also knew that he would never force goodness on his creatures. His love wanted not forced obedience, but the response of freely returned love. He knew too that God was pure and holy, but he had seen that purity and holiness come to earth and embrace the unclean, kiss the leper, sweat and bleed for sinners – and all because of a love so deep that human ideas of holiness and power and justice had to be reinterpreted in its light.

That is what Macdonald did in his novels, his poetry, his works of fantasy and his children’s stories. Now it’s time for me to stop describing MacDonald, and for you to go and read him. You will never regret it.

2 Responses leave one →
  1. Robert E. Armidon permalink
    May 29, 2009

    Thanks for the fascinating posts on MacDonald. Where would you suggest that one begin in reading him?

  2. May 30, 2009

    Glad you liked them.

    It’s hard to say where to begin, but be sure to avoid the bowdlerized versions issued by an Evangelical group in the USA. You are much better reading the original George MacDonalds.

    One of the best of his novels is “David Elginbrod”, but you will have to cope with some of the dialogue in broad Scots.

    Among the children’s novels, I love the Princess and the Goblin.

    And his two fantasies, “Phantastes” (written at the beginning of his writing career, and “Lilith” written at he end, are both wonderful.

    Just plunge in!

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