MacDonald (as selected by Lewis)

I’m running into so much treasure (and challenge - not all of it easily-welcomed challenge!) in the book “MacDonald” by C.S. Lewis. I am of the compulsion to share that here, perhaps as a daily devotional resource for reading and any subsequent comment or discussion. I don’t think it’s an accident that Lewis has it divided into 365 small portions. Perhaps I could post one here roughly each day (or on a more-or-less daily basis).

The only thing I’m not sure about here is if this may pose a copyright problem as it would (if I actually followed through all the way) eventually put nearly the entire contents of the book out here in the forum - with the exception of the extensive (and very worthwile) foreward that Lewis writes about MacDonald.
If others wiser than I about such things need to reign in this intention of mine on these legality or other grounds, then of course I can reconsider. But meanwhile, I’ll at least brashly start out this morning here with a first one.



What you’ve shared so far have been worth it. Share on. Maybe its old enough to be public domain?


From “MacDonald” by Lewis.

(1) Dryness

That man is perfect in faith who can come to God in the utter dearth of his feelings and desires, without a glow or an aspiration, with the weight of low thoughts, failures, neglects, and wandering forgetfulness, and say to Him, “Thou art my refuge.”


Yes. It is his strength that holds us, not our own!

The book should have a copyright notice in the front. You can contact the publisher for permission to serialize the whole book. When I copied a NY Times article here instead of using my gift article option, it was taken down immediately.


That’s a good idea.

1 Like

The copyright of an old book does not necessarily give enough information to know whether or not something has become public domain. I know with Lewis’ works it is different between Canada and the U.S. (the latter being the more restrictive).

1 Like

Indeed. It can be a cliche, but his grace is new every day. I remember singing as a new believer at one of those non-denominational churches, every other Sunday, “Open the eyes of my heart.” And yet this is what God can do so surprisingly for this older man now: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith… Jesus, our high priest, is able to understand our weaknesses. When Jesus lived on earth, he was tempted in every way as we are.”


The only thing still under copyright is likely just the long preface, and a big chunk of that can be read at Amazon using the “Look inside feature” (it is long enough though, plus the lengthy table of contents, that the preview never gets far enough to show any MacDonald ; - ). I suspect that all of the MacDonald is actually public domain – maybe a librarian could tell us (@Kendel ; - ).

Resources—Freely accessible, public domain texts and more. (Finding aids are an obsession, I guess.)

Project Gutenberg’s George MacDonald Collection (digital texts, and some ebook formats):

The Literature Network’s George MacDonald collection (html):

Internet Archive’s George MacDonald Collection (pdfs):

Harper-Collins Publishing has provided a reading guide with thought/discussion questions to accompany Lewis’s anthology here:

For the hard-core MacDonald enthusiasts (or soon to be):


Much thanks to @Kendel to provide us with all the rich vein of accessible resources. And after consulting with her behind the scenes here, I think we can proceed - but now with me drawing on public domain material (much of which will be from MacDonald’s unspoken sermons). I will still be keeping an eye on Lewis’ anthology, but then quoting straight from other older sources - and often my quotes will be more complete than what Lewis chose to include, as he sharpened the text down yet more to his focus. And while Lewis numbered his entries, presumably according to the days of the year, I am simply starting at the beginning even though we are in October already. Everything spoken of is timeless, and crosses over all seasons in any case.

(2) Inexorable Love

Nothing is inexorable but love. Love which will yield to prayer is imperfect and poor. Nor is it then the love that yields, but its alloy. For if at the voice of entreaty love conquers displeasure, it is love asserting itself, not love yielding its claims. It is not love that grants a boon unwillingly; still less is it love that answers a prayer to the wrong and hurt of him who prays. Love is one, and love is changeless.

For love loves unto purity. Love has ever in view the absolute loveliness of that which it beholds. Where loveliness is incomplete, and love cannot love its fill of loving, it spends itself to make more lovely, that it may love more; it strives for perfection, even that itself may be perfected–not in itself, but in the object. As it was love that first created humanity, so even human love, in proportion to its divinity, will go on creating the beautiful for its own outpouring. There is nothing eternal but that which loves and can be loved, and love is ever climbing towards the consummation when such shall be the universe, imperishable, divine.

Therefore all that is not beautiful in the beloved, all that comes between and is not of love’s kind, must be destroyed.

And our God is a consuming fire.

As found here: Unspoken Sermons by George MacDonald: The Consuming Fire


Quoting under 300 words from a book is generally considered fair use and you don’t need copyright permission if you cite the source and are creating a “new product” for commentary or criticism. But what counts as fair use can be subjective.


Quoting most of a book in 300 word snippets over the course of months would not be protected, though. Finding public domain sources, however, and using Lewis’s anthology as a guide is completely legit.

And a General Grip (that is NOT directed at Christy, but anyone who has tried to tell themselves “This is fair use, because I’m using it to educate people.”
Regarding “fair use” for educational purposes, this is the one I see most abused by people who, if they were honest with themselves, know better:

  • Nonprofit educational uses: When teachers photocopy limited portions of written works for classroom use, this is normally acceptable. An English teacher would be permitted to copy a few pages of a book to show to the class as part of a lesson plan. (Note that she would not be permitted to photocopy the entire book).

I’ve heard claims that copying and pasting large parts of something onto one’s social media of choice is “educational” and protected. It is not. “Educational use” has careful definitions, and does not include “telling anyone who will listen to me” or “throwing it up on a digital or even physical bulletin board.”
Additionally, every copyright case is treated on its own merits or demerits. The rules (in the U.S.) look murky, because they deliberately are.
We all want people to handle our own intellectual property well and ethically. We need to do the same with other peoples’ work as well.


And if you live in Canada (or near and could cross the border easily? ; - )…,%20C.%20S.%20(Clive%20Staples)

I don’t think one can’t be in just a “normal” frame of mind and take in, much less receive these messages MacDonald gives, because they have in them much more demanding and exacting challenge than just your regular “come as your are … we love you as you are …” comforting messages that we would so much prefer to receive from others ourselves (and - at least at first - are so much more rewarding to dole out to others too.) We talked some in Sunday school this morning about how to find the balance between “You’re fine and lovable just the way you are…” and in stark contrast: “Seriously! - you need to do something about that habit of yours - because that is keeping you from being the best you, you can be.” MacDonald (in my impression) rarely if ever has any patience for the former message, and sees God as always pressing us in the latter sort of way. God will have us clean and perfect and every last scrap of sin desire cleansed away from us - with refining hell fires if necessary. Frankly - I think I prefer the more common watered-down western Christianity that has God just letting us off the hook and forgiving sins rather than forgiving sinners. It’s an easier and much less demanding religion. I get to sin and keep wanting things I shouldn’t want, and then repent, believe the right stuff, say the right creeds, and go my merry way - rinse and repeat, as I’ve heard said around here. But MacDonald will have none of that. No wonder he was put out as heretical among some mainliners of his own day. I’m not sure I would want him preaching in my church either … “Speak comfort to me please!” … “Comfort!? What comfort should I give you that wouldn’t but serve to extend your misery as you continue to chase your own desires instead of practicing obedience to Christ?”

Most of us American Christians have no patience for that kind of Christianity whatsoever. Way too demanding. Too Biblical. Too Christian.


Oh? :grin:

1 Like

(3) Divine Burning

He will shake heaven and earth, that only the unshakeable may remain, ( verse 27): he is a consuming fire, that only that which cannot be consumed may stand forth eternal. It is the nature of God, so terribly pure that it destroys all that is not pure as fire, which demands like purity in our worship. He will have purity. It is not that the fire will burn us if we do not worship thus; but that the fire will burn us until we worship thus; yea, will go on burning within us after all that is foreign to it has yielded to its force, no longer with pain and consuming, but as the highest consciousness of life, the presence of God.

As found here: Unspoken Sermons by George MacDonald: The Consuming Fire


For real, Merv. Thank you for these, though. Thanks for included the expanded versions, too. I found the anthology and read some of it, but felt some of them lacked heart.

1 Like

Copyright is life plus 70 years. C.S.Lewis died the same day as JFK. So Nov. 22, 1963. So the copyright is at least until 2033. I do believe C.S. Lewis would be so please to have someone read his work in that it points always to Jesus and our Savior’s love and work for us. But that’s Lewis personally. The books were published through companies that reprint and design and hope to make a profit from so “lead us not into temptation.”
Thank you for pointing out the work. I will look for it in my public library.


(4) The Beginning of Wisdom

Here was a nation at its lowest: could it receive anything but a partial revelation, a revelation of fear? How should the Hebrews be other than terrified at that which was opposed to all they knew of themselves, beings judging it good to honour a golden calf? Such as they were, they did well to be afraid. They were in a better condition, acknowledging if only a terror above them, flaming on that unknown mountain height, than stooping to worship the idol below them. Fear is nobler than sensuality. Fear is better than no God, better than a god made with hands. In that fear lay deep hidden the sense of the infinite. The worship of fear is true, although very low; and though not acceptable to God in itself, for only the worship of spirit and of truth is acceptable to him, yet even in his sight it is precious. For he regards men not as they are merely, but as they shall be; not as they shall be merely, but as they are now growing, or capable of growing, towards that image after which he made them that they might grow to it. Therefore a thousand stages, each in itself all but valueless, are of inestimable worth as the necessary and connected gradations of an infinite progress. A condition which of declension would indicate a devil, may of growth indicate a saint.

As found here: Unspoken Sermons by George MacDonald: The Consuming Fire