Back of the North Wind

Discussions of theology, philosophy, religion and life inspired by the writings of George MacDonald (and perhaps others such as CS Lewis) posted by "recovering fundamentalists".

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I am a "recovering fundamentalist". The trick is to figure out how not to throw out the Baby with the bathwater. I learn through dialogue, and so invite commentary on my posts to Back of the North Wind.

Thursday, September 30, 2004

More on Obedience

From this evening's reading with my son in The Princess and Curdie: MacDonald's "Wise Woman" figure in this book is giving Curdie (a miner's son) his mission. Curdie is responding to her:

'But where am I to go, ma'am, and what am I to do? You have given me no message to carry, neither have you said what I am wanted for. I go without a notion whether I am to walk this way or that, or what I am to do when I get I don't know where.'

'Curdie!' said the princess, and there was a tone of reminder in his own name as she spoke it, 'did I not tell you to tell your father and mother that you were to set out for the court? And you know that lies to the north. You must learn to use far less direct directions than that. You must not be like a dull servant that needs to be told again and again before he will understand. You have orders enough to start with, and you will find, as you go on, and as you need to know, what you have to do. But I warn you that perhaps it will not look the least like what you may have been fancying I should require of you. I have one idea of you and your work, and you have another. I do not blame you for that - you cannot help it yet; but you must be ready to let my idea, which sets you working, set your idea right. Be true and honest and fearless, and all shall go well with you and your work, and all with whom your work lies, and so with your parents - and me too, Curdie,' she added after a little pause.

It seems to me that the Wise Woman (the Princess / Great-great-grandmother) figure---who if not actually divine, is a divine servant---is telling Curdie to do the part that he knows what to do: start heading towards Court. He doesn't know what he's going to do once he gets there, but he now knows enough to do what he has to do today and tomorrow. And she tells him that as he obeys her, he will understand better what he has to do.

Her final admonition to Curdie stands on its own and could be an admonition to any person at any time anywhere: and admonition and a blessing in one.