Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Curate's Awakening

It was in 1876, at the height of George MacDonald's writing career, that he released the profound, incredible story of Thomas Wingfold, Curate. In 1985, Bethany House Publishers released a new edition, revised by Michael R. Phillips and renamed The Curate's Awakening. Of all of George MacDonald's books (and I've read about ten!) this is one of the most powerful, soul-searching, and eye-opening of them!

It is a story of awakening. As the title indicates, the story centers around the new curate of Glaston, a young man named Thomas Wingfold. Wingfold entered the clergy viewing it as a "profession" rather than as a heart-felt service to God. He plagiarizes other's sermons and has never preached something God had shown him personally through His Word. He never really thought about what he believed; he rather took it for granted that there was a God--until the day he was challenged with a question by a self-sufficient, scoffing athiest: "Tell me, do you really believe one word of all that?" This question sends Wingfold into a host of questions of his own: "How am I to know that there is a God?" "Was there ever such a man as Jesus Christ?" Through the help of a saintly dwarf named Polwarth, Wingfold turns to the Scriptures to see Christ as He really is.

But Wingfold is not the only soul to be awakened in this stirring novel. We are given another profound character in the young woman Helen Lingard. At the beginning of the story, we find her as asleep as a soul could be, and easily swayed by the athiest talk of her cousin Bascombe. But when circumstances in her life take a drastic turn, and her beloved younger brother turns up a murderer, she too must find answers to the piercing questions of life: "Is there a God?" and "Does He really care?" Helen's search for life and hope, spurned by trials in life and Christ's invitation to "Come", but hindered by doubts and fears and selfishness, will inspire you.

George MacDonald's writings are phenomenal-- he has such an incredible way of mixing such deep, soul-searching truths in with an riveting plot! The Curate's Awakening digs deep into the reader's soul. The reader is challenged, as Thomas Wingfold was, to examine whether they are in the faith-- Do I say I believe in God, and in His teachings, just because I have always been taught so, and because it is expected of me? Or do I really know Jesus for myself-- have I sought for Him in His Word and found Him to be true? Is my faith merely head knowledge? Or is it complete dependence, accompanied by the fruit of works? Thomas Wingfold challenges his congregation to ask themselves, as he had too asked himself, "Do I then obey His Word? Have I ever, have I once, sought to obey it? Am I a pupil of Jesus Christ? Am I a Christian?" The book also illustrates beautifully the tender love of our God and His power to wash away any sin, however black-- whether it be dishonesty in business, plagiarism in the pulpit, or even murder. A devotional with a fiction twist, The Curate's Awakening strikes deep in the reader's heart and leaves a lasting imprint there. A repentant murderer, a pondering draper, a vengeful mother, a mocking athiest, a struggling woman, and an open-hearted curate all play a part in the development of a powerful and unforgettable novel that you are sure to enjoy!


Anonymous said...

Very good book review.


Melanie said...

Thank you, my dear Mamma! :-)

Anonymous said...

haha!! Guess who? :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm reading a George McDonald book right now and I really like it. Thanks for recommending them!

Melanie said...

Haha-- You're welcome, Anonymous (aka BGA)!! ;-) Thanks for leaving me a comment! :-D

jmr said...

Sounds like a great book Melanie!I'll have to check it out!