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Thursday, September 28, 2006

Poems - George MacDonald

I came across MacDonald while reading about universal salvation. Here's what Wikipedia has to say, in part, about him, and below that are a few of his many poems ...

George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 – September 18, 1905) was a Scottish author, poet, and Christian minister. Though no longer a household name, his works (particularly his fairy tales and fantasy novels) have inspired deep admiration in such notables as W. H. Auden, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Madeleine L'Engle. C. S. Lewis wrote that he regarded MacDonald as his "master". Picking up a copy of Phantastes one day in a train station, he began to read; "a few hours later," said Lewis, "I knew I had crossed a great frontier." G. K. Chesterton cited The Princess and the Goblin as a book that had "made a difference to my whole existence" ......

MacDonald rejected the doctrine of penal Substitutionary atonement as put forward by John Calvin which argues that Christ has taken the place of sinners and is punished by God in their place, believing that in turn it raised serious questions about the character and nature of God .... MacDonald was convinced that God does not punish except to amend .... In this theology of divine punishment, MacDonald stands in agreement with the Greek Church Fathers ....


Came of old to houses lonely
Men with wings, but did not show them:
Angels come to our house, only,
For their wings, they do not know them!

To The Clouds

Through the unchanging heaven, as ye have sped,
Speed onward still, a strange wild company,
Fleet children of the waters! Glorious ye,
Whether the sun lift up his shining head,
High throned at noontide and established
Among the shifting pillars, or we see
The sable ghosts of air sleep mournfully
Against the sunlight, passionless and dead!
Take thus a glory, oh thou higher Sun,
From all the cloudy labour of man’s hand—
Whether the quickening nations rise and run,
Or in the market-place we idly stand
Casting huge shadows over these thy plains—
Even thence, O God, draw thy rich gifts of rains.

Lost and Found

Missed him when the sun began to bend;
I found him not when I had lost his rim;
With many tears I went in search of him,
Climbing high mountains which did still ascend,
And gave me echoes when I called my friend;
Through cities vast and charnel-houses grim,
And high cathedrals where the light was dim,
Through books and arts and works without an end,
But found him not--the friend whom I had lost.
And yet I found him--as I found the lark,
A sound in fields I heard but could not mark;
I found him nearest when I missed him most;
I found him in my heart, a life in frost,
A light I knew not till my soul was dark.

Read more about MacDonald on VictorianWeb


Blogger Jeff said...

Terrific post, and great poems. I own a neat little book by a Church of Scotland minister named J. Philip Newell called Listening For the Heartbeat of God. A Celtic Spirituality. You’ve prompted me to want to re-read it.

An excerpt:

MacDonald owed much of his spirituality of the imagination to a so-called `heretic' of the nineteenth century, a man named Alexander John Scott (1805-66). Scott in turn was indebted to the ninth-century John Scotus Eriugena, the great Celtic philosopher who had taught that the light at the heart of all life is God. Scott's belief that God's love is in and for all people was in sharp contrast to the prevailing Calvinist doctrine which saw God not as within creation but as infinitely separated from it. God's redemptive love was seen as being granted exclusively to the elect to implant within them a grace of light entirely opposed to their natural state at birth. Scott and MacDonald, on the other hand, saw God as immediately present in the whole of life. Everywhere, Scott maintained, can be found the ladder that connects heaven and earth, God and humanity, with angels of the eternal light ascending and descending upon it. As MacDonald put it, the grandmother figure, who represents the presence of God, is within our house, always near, whether we are aware of her or not, whether we know her or not. The image of a staircase or ladder leading unexpectedly from the most of contexts into an opening of the eternal, was a favorite of MacDonald’s, similar to C.S. Lewis’s Narnian Wardrobe.

6:38 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds like another panentheist to me. =)

8:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let me point out that in the 9th century, "Scotus" meant Irish, and that John Scotus Erigena was like myself an academic and an Irishman. Very original, he interested himself in the Psuedo-Dionysus and translated his work into Latin.

Of course, Ps-D wrote "On the celestial hierarchy," which is one of the foundational works of angelology. And today is the feast of the Archangels. AND today's gospel reading, as Friar Minor commented on his blog, refers to Jacob's ladder, which Jeff talks about in his comment here.

Everything is connected.

Thanks for the poems, Cyrstal.

10:55 AM  
Blogger crystal said...

Interesting, you guys. One of my Quaker friends at the other blog is a fan of universalism and of William Blake ... have you seen his painting of Jacob's Ladder?

11:29 AM  

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