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".

My Photo
Location: California, United States

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.

Friday, November 12, 2004

Not Exactly "Happily Ever After"!

I just finished reading George MacDonald's The Princess and Curdie to my son, and had a little surprise at the end of the story. It had been long enough since I had read the book that I had forgotten the final ending.

I was expecting a classic fairy-tale ending, with our hero Curdie and the fair princess Irene being married and living happily ever after. I thought I was reading that ending with the following conclusion to the story:

Irene and Curdie were married. The old king died, and they were king and queen. As long as they lived Gwyntystorm was a better city, and good people grew in it.

But George MacDonald continues on past what would have been a pleasant conclusion, and follows it with this:

But they had no children, and when they died the people chose a king. And the new king went mining and mining in the rock under the city, and grew more and more eager after the gold, and paid less and less heed to his people. Rapidly they sank toward their old wickedness. But still the king went on mining, and coining gold by the pailful, until the people were worse even than in the old time. And so greedy was the king after gold, that when at last the ore began to fail, he caused the miners to reduce the pillars which Peter and they that followed him had left standing to bear the city. And from the girth of an oak of a thousand years, they chipped them down to that of a fir tree of fifty.

One day at noon, when life was at its highest, the whole city fell with a roaring crash. The cries of men and the shrieks of women went up with its dust, and then there was a great silence.

Where the mighty rock once towered, crowded with homes and crowned with a palace, now rushes and raves a stone-obstructed rapid of the river. All around spreads a wilderness of wild deer, and the very name of Gwyntystorm had ceased from the lips of men.

Holy Cow! What was GMD doing with this children's story?! Seems to be sort of a cross between Saul, Midas and Atlantis.

I guess what I take from this (though it does confuse me) is that although George MacDonald believes in God's grace triumphing in the end over man's rebellion, he never minimizes the wickedness he sees, nor the effect of that wickedness. There is no "cheap grace" with George MacDonald.