I’ve just added two new books to my sidebar (to the right on this blog). I just finished reading George MacDonald’s Phantastes over the weekend as our family was camping at Leo Carillo State Beach in Malibu, CA. What a challenging and imagination-fueling piece of writing!
As a result, I decided I will continue reading other George MacDonald’s novels over the Summer. Though I had heard much about him in the past, especially that C. S. Lewis considered him his master in matters of writing, I had not until recently read anything of his. The encouragement of one long-time friend (Diane Cox) and two new friends (Jan Johnson & Lisa Myers) led me to finally try him. What spiritually rich writing!
So, I’m now reading Michael Phillips’ contemporary edit of one of his works, now titled The Curate’s Awakening (originally titled “Thomas Wingfold, Curate”). Phillips, in his introduction, suggests that this work may be “one of MacDonald’s most contemplative, spiritual books which directly confronts the most basic of questions: Is Christianity true? Does it make sense? Are its precepts to be believed? Or is it a hoax? (I’m currently only a few dozen pages in and can already see this is going to be fun and solid reading!)
The other book I’ve begun is Gwendolen Greene’s Letters from Baron von Hügel to a Niece. (I was blessed to find an original 1929 hardcover on Ebay of all places, though I’ve put a link to a newer paperback version in the sidebar here on my blog). What I appreciated about reading some of the letters of von Hügel in the past was his stress on the need to remain rooted in history, tradition and even healthy institutional life to provide roots and foundation for any truly Christian spiritual formation and spirituality. I see this as needed in a postmodern age where many think that only the perspective of contemporaries is credible or good.
Reading from the introduction, where Greene shares from some of her personal conversations with her famous uncle, I appreciated this wise piece of his spiritual counsel:
“I wonder if you have seen how much you will be called on to help people–to help souls. The golden rule is, to help those we love to escape from us; and never try to begin to help people, or influence them, till they ask, but wait for them. Souls are never dittos. The souls thus to be helped are mostly at quite different stages from our own, or they have quite a different attrait. One should wait silent for those who do not open out to us, who are not intended, perhaps, ever to be helped by us–except by our prayers (the best of all helps). We must be tolerant and patient, too, with those we can, and ought to help. This difference in souls wakes us up, and makes us more sensitive and perceptive. (Gwendolyn Greene. Letters from Baron von Hügel to a Niece. London: J. M. Dent & Sons Ltd., 1929, p. xxix)”
I find this approach to offering spiritual mentoring or guidance to another to be wise, compassionate and timely.
I trust that you’ll find one of these books to be refreshing and encouraging this summer! (And clicking on the link to the right to buy this or any other book will make a small contribution to our ministry)