Barclay Viewforth Church congregation on Blackford Hill

A Good Read

   I’ve hardly spent anything on books since discovering a real treasure trove of free Amazon Kindle ebooks by George MacDonald, who has become my favourite author. I’m in good company – he was a major influence on C.S.Lewis of ‘Narnia stories’ fame (another favourite author) as well as Lewis Carroll and others. He was a Scot and roughly contemporary with Dickens and like him, a great story teller. You may have heard of some of his children’s stories – the Princess and Curdie, the Princess and the Goblin, at the Back of the North Wind. I love his novels. He’ll choose the most unlikely of heroes/heroines – ‘Donal Grant’, a shepherd lad, ‘Sir Gibbie’ who starts off as a wee boy on the streets of Aberdeen, ‘Malcolm’, an orphan brought up by his blind ‘Grandfather’, a fisherman. What sets them apart is that they believe in Jesus wholeheartedly – or are on the way to doing so – and that faith means following Him,
doing as He did. As the stories unfold, we see what a difference this makes, not only to them, but all the people they come into contact with.  Like Jesus, their lives are far from being trouble-free, but they are learning to take His yoke and learn from Him whose burden was ‘easy’ since He trusted so completely in a loving Father. The stories are full of their dealings with folk struggling with depression, addictions, physical and mental disabilites, victims of emotional and sexual abuse. He doesn’t shrink from the grim realities of life. The unlikely heroes are matched by equally ‘unlikely’ villains – well-to-do, often ‘religious’ folk who are anything but Christ-like in practice.  The stories are bursting with spiritual insights but embedded in such a way that they make sense to me, unlike most other ‘Christian books’ I’ve read. These are insights that have made a real practical difference to me – helping me change attitudes and behaviour and reshaping my understanding of our ‘at-one-ment’ with God the Father. What also drew me to him is that George MacDonald is such a lover of animals and has helped me go beyond that to more of an appreciation of nature generally. There’s a whole sub-plot in his novel ‘Malcolm’ and its sequel, ‘The Marquis of Lossie’ about his relationship with a horse that he all but rescues from the knackers yard after it has defied all previous attempts to be ‘broken for harness’!  I had a job at first with the Scots dialect in quite a few of his novels but well worth the effort and that’s now an added attraction to me. I’m not sure what to recommend for ‘starters’. Perhaps ‘Sir Gibbie’, which had me laughing out loud early on with the description of the wee street boy steering the drunken alderman home, his self-appointed task since he’d had to do it so many times for his alcoholic father. You’ll find it and loads more in the Amazon Kindle store: search for ‘free literary classics George MacDonald’

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