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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

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Danny Gabelman’s book on George MacDonald was published on the 15th August. Published by Baylor University Press, it focuses on MacDonald’s fairytales and looks at how they lightly embodied key aspects of his aesthetics and theology. It should be available from major distributors like amazon, barnes and noble, waterstones, etc. A Kindle version should be available in due course.

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During 2013 my companion is going to be Through the Year with George MacDonald edited by Rolland Hein and published by Bob Trexler’s Winged Lion Press. The entry for January 1st is taken from a paraphrase of a Sermon that George MacDonald gave in New York on May 11th 1873 based on Matthew 11:25-30. I was particularly struck by the the comment that those who trusted in Him and accepted the invitation, ‘have found everything He said to be true, so far as discover that active and thorough obedience to His precepts has brought them into right relations with themselves, with each other and God…’ It is as we come into right relationship with ourselves that we are able relate properly to others and to God. Trust and obedience is the doorway through which we must enter.

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Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ has recently been translated by Derrick McClure into North-East Scots (Doric) as ‘Ailice’s Anters in Ferlielann’. The book uses John Tenniel’s classic illustrations.

To quote from the introduction:

The North-East dialect of Scots, locally called the “Doric”, has a long and distinguished history as the medium of one of the liveliest and most individual local literatures in Scotland. It first emerged in literary form during the Vernacular Revival of the eighteenth century; an outstanding practitioner of the mid-nineteenth century was Lewis Carroll’s friend George MacDonald, who, though his lasting renown is mainly founded on his children’s books and fantasy stories, wrote many domestic novels set wholly or partly in his North-Eastern calf-ground, in which the dialect is skillfully presented.

In translating Alice, Derrick McClure has endeavoured to find some kind of counterpart for every literary and linguistic trick in the original: that is an ambitious aim, but any translation above the level of a mere crib is a tribute to its source, and an original of such ingenuity as this book deserves the highest tribute possible, in a translation which pays full attention to all the clever and delightful tricks with which Carroll adorned his text. It is the author’s hope that the translation will be read not simply as a linguistic curiosity or a test case for some of the problems of literary translation, but as a not unworthy addition to the corpus of Doric literature and Scots children’s writing.

For more information go to http://www.evertype.com/books/alice-sco-ne.html

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In the summer of 1887, George MacDonald’s son Ronald, newly engaged to artist Louise Blandy, sailed from England to America to teach school. The next summer he returned to England to marry Louise and bring her back to America. Soon afterward he secured a five-year position as headmaster of Ravenscroft High School in Asheville, North Carolina. On August 27, 1890, after less than a year in his new position, his wife died leaving him with an infant daughter. Ronald once described losing a beloved spouse as “the near loss of everything.” Ronald’s story is mentioned briefly in biographies of his father, but Asheville resident and MacDonald scholar, Dale Wayne Slusser, presents new information, unpublished letters, and over 30 illustrations. Also included are Ronald’s essay about his father, “George MacDonald: A Personal Note,” plus a selection from “The Laughing Elf,” his 1922 fable about the necessity of both sorrow and joy in life. Click here for more information

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The Shack


I’ve just finished reading William P Young’s ‘The Shack’ and, from looking on the web, can see that this this book has generated a lot of energy (including heat!). Somehow I had missed all this and only became aware of the book when I saw it by chance in W H Smith’s in Manchester Airport when we were flying out to Hungary in August to help with a children’s mission. So I had no preconceptions about it and avoided all the hype.

I’m not going to go into detail about the story for fear of spoilers – but from my own perspective I would definitely recommend it. You need to keep objective though – it is just a story. It’s not scripture or necessarily even great literature (though Eugene Peterson in his endorsement suggested that it ‘has the potential to do for our generation what John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress did for his. It’s that good!’). Indeed theologically it may at times veer into unorthodoxy (lack of hierarchy in the Trinity for one). But, in my view, that’s to miss the point.

This is where I tread on thin ice. At times it is possible for people of faith (I hate the word religious) to aim to be so right that they become wrong. Twenty years ago I would have described myself as a card carrying evangelical – but the older I get, the more I realise that all our systematic understandings of theology are at best only approximations of truth. It’s not what you know or believe but who you know that matters in the end. Transformation comes through relationship with The Father/ Son/ Holy Spirit and fellow believers on the Way. Life is a journey – you don’t arrive when you become a Christian, you walk through a door. In God’s eyes some significant things happen but the work of transformation continues.

This, for me, is where The Shack hits home. It is inspirational/ motivational in the best sense. It encourages you personally to enter into a more intimate relationship with God, especially as Father. At the same time it deals with some of the stumbling blocks that as ‘recovering’ human beings we all face/ experience to greater or lessor extents in our lives. Scripture teaches that in Jesus we can know what the Father is really like. But is that really how we relate to God in our regular Monday to Saturday lives. Young’s depiction of God in The Shack shakes our preconceptions. Do you really believe that he/she ‘is especially fond of all’ of his children? Are you able to call God ‘Abba’, or “Daddy’, like Jesus did? Each of us will respond to different aspects of the story, but this is what struck a chord with me on a first reading

Another criticism that I’ve seen online is of implied universalism. All I would say on that hot potato is that again I believe that God’s love and ability to redeem his damaged creation is much greater than my definitions sometimes allow. Interestingly, in his postscript the author quotes George MacDonald and the Inklings as among his inspirations. That made me ask who were my ‘spiritual’ inspirations (humanly speaking). Many, but top of the list would be Simone Weil, George MacDonald, John Wimber and William Barclay. At least two of those (MacDonald and Barclay) have, rightly or wrongly, had the accusation of universalism levelled at them. At the end of the day though, if we are co-operating with God in his masterwork of restoring humanity and creation, does it actually matter? One of the quotes that struck home to me in the book is that ‘God is a verb’ – it is the core of God’s nature to be doing. He is the active ingredient that transforms from the inside – not a passive external observer. God cares about us and his creation. Enough for Jesus to limit himself, become a man and embrace the cross. A deeper appreciation of that truth has the power to transform our lives

I will shortly be leading an Alpha Group (for new christians/ seekers) and my instincts are, while pointing them toward scripture, to recommend it. Sometimes the heart needs to lead the head. In human terms if the blood flow stops the brain dies. Increasingly we are having to think about new ways of getting the gospel across to people. There’s still a place for solid bible study (neglected I would argue) but that, for many people, comes later in the journey. Once again, the heart of the Christian faith is a relationship not a list. We are not under law, we have grace to enter.

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New Book by David Robb


Alec Forbes of Howglen and the Condition of Scotland
by David Robb

‘It tells us something about the nature of George MacDonald’s particular genius that the current interest in him, both among academics and general readers, is a worldwide phenomenon… He has become a world writer, transcending the boundaries of nations and languages, and also the cultural boundaries arising from the historical circumstances of his Victorian time and place.’ From the Foreword

George MacDonald (1824-1905) is here studied as a Scottish writer: Robb analyses what is perhaps his best novel so as to illuminate both the mind of an important nineteenth-century writer and also the times in which he lived.

The work ends with a ‘Summary of Alec Forbes of Howglen’ and a list of editions published in MacDonald’s lifetime.

ISBN 978-0-9542643-5-2 Paperback 28 pages

______

For details of how to purchase and postage for where you live contact:

Ink Books
Ian P. Blakemore
Rosley Farmhouse
Rosley
Wigton
Cumbria
CA7 8BZ
UK

Phone: 016973 499 24
E-mail: sales@rosleybooks.co.uk

There is a reduced rate for members of the George MacDonald Society!

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An insightful essay by Michaela Fojytikova on George MacDonald’s ‘The Shadows’ has been published at www.george-macdonald.com/the_shadows.html. Michaela is a Slovakian student living in Austria and would welcome your comments.

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