Simone Weil – Awaiting God

Cover from 'Awaiting God'I am looking forward to reading Brad Jersak’s (2013) English translation of Simone Weil’s ‘Awaiting God: A new translation of Attente de Dieu and Lettre a un Religieux‘ that has just arrived. Weil is one of those writers who both challenge and inspire in equal measure. She was a big influence in my originally coming to faith and I think that it is past time for us to get reacquainted. A review on Amazon suggests this translation is closer to the original, reflecting the author’s thoughts more accurately than the better known, ‘Waiting on God‘.

I am also dipping into Jersak’s ‘Her Gates Will Never Be Shut: Hell, Hope, and the New Jerusalem‘ (2010). He has a(n Eastern) Orthodox perspective that throws fresh light on what is a controversial subject for some. Very much in the spirit of George MacDonald and helpful for those who want to dig deeper and deal honestly with what the Bible says.

George MacDonald Conference in Oxford this August


Booking for our conference ‘George MacDonald and the Victorian Roots of Modern Fantasy’ at Magdalen College, Oxford 13-15th August 2014 is now live and further information can be found at including details of our speakers. The conference is open to everyone and it is possible to book via PayPal, thus avoiding any complications with currency conversion etc. Accommodation is available at the college, including a limited number ‘with the walls’ where C.S. Lewis had rooms. Ideally bookings for accommodation should be received by us before the 10th May to enable us to confirm to the College.

The call for papers (30 minute) is still open. Proposals including: name, institutional affiliation, CV, title of paper, abstract (400 words max) should go to by 1st May 2014.

Hope is Coming…

It feels significant that Christmas comes so soon after the longest day (the Winter Solstice) which fell this year, in the UK, at 5:11 p.m. on 21st December. The darkness of mid-winter begins to diminish as the days draw longer. Now I understand that the celebration of Christmas at this time of year has little to do with the bible facts but traditions evolve and have meaning in a context  Light translates to hope, which is the key message of Advent. Hope is coming…

A Better Atonement: Beyond the Depraved Doctrine of Original Sin

ImageI found this book while searching online for ‘George MacDonald and Jonathan Edwards’ (strange bedfellows indeed) and wanting to get some background on the different historic views of the atonement. Tony Jones is a key figure in what is sometimes described as the Emergent Church and, while I would not agree totally with his final conclusions, he does an excellent job of outlining clearly and concisely the different understandings of the atonement that have been held by mainline christians over the centuries. Derived from his blog posts it is quite a short book and intended for the general reader rather than someone with a more academic interest. Interestingly the Penal Substitution theory so beloved of present day neo-Calvinists  (and of course Jonathan Edwards) is shown to be a relatively late introduction, dating from Anselm of Canterbury in 1098 and then further developed by the sixteenth century reformers, especially Jean Calvin. It was not even an option for the first thousand years of the church. It is also a very Western Church way of looking at the atonement. Some of the ideas presented in the book from the Eastern Orthodox Church (particularly on the Trinity) are very appealing, partly because Augustine and his thoughts on inherited guilt had less influence there. This is a good book to read if you are open minded and not too wedded to a particular dogma or formula. In some ways there is a grain of truth in all these theories but it is good to be able to step back and see them them the context of God’s wider purposes for human beings and his creation. As an aside, the conversations recorded with John Piper, when they had dinner together, highlight many of the key issues.

Oblivion – Film Review

Recently I saw Oblivion, the new Tom Cruise film. Having read the rather negative online film reviews I was not sure how much I was going to enjoy it but, as it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised. This is never going to be a classic science fiction film that will be remembered for years to come but there is plenty of action and it is shot with some style. In fact it is the vivid images that will linger in the mind afterwards rather than the storyline. As far as the plot goes, if you have seen Total Recall, Independence Day and Star Wars you will probably be able to anticipate most of what is going happen, but, you know what, it did not seem to matter. We sometimes forget that the cinema is meant to be entertainment and there was more than enough here to hold my attention for a couple of hours and leave me feeling afterwards that it was time well spent.

The Light Princess

A call for MacDonald researchers and bloggers to contribute reflections on “The Light Princess” for Christine Chettle and Christi Williams’s digital storytelling project, “Subverting Laughter”:

The aim is to explore how MacDonald’s theories of the imagination and of storytelling might transfer to a modern context, and the project will combine visual image and reflective blogging to encourage new appreciations of MacDonald’s text.