Posts Tagged With: Michael R. Phillips

Opening Our Eyes in 2016

I’ve written on how 19th Century author George MacDonald fathered the fantasy genre that has become such a staple of literature. Beyond that, MacDonald was also a controversial figure in his day, and even now. Why? Because he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. Biographer Michael R. Phillips writes:

In his later writings MacDonald strongly attacks the mentality that cares more for providing its own position than for discerning the truth. He would prefer to find himself in the wrong, and thereby learn a new facet of truth, than win an argument…he would not even formulate an opinion until he sees the question more clearly…[he wouldn’t]…put forward an opinion prematurely until the light of truth had been shed upon it.

Here, on the first day of the new year, perhaps this is what we should keep in our minds and on lists of resolutions. A commitment to test what we read, what we are told and what the powers that be claim is so. In an election year this is even more important, because the professional politicians and their dutiful followers have already spent months weaving their deceptions. We need to be like MacDonald who had

…a mind not afraid to doubt and ask questions. It was a mind not hiding behind doors, but knocking on them. His eyes were wide open, alert to any entrance of truth.

So in 2016, let’s open our eyes, stop hiding and start knocking.

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Categories: Critical Thinking, What You Can Do | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

How the Father of Fantasy Told His Story

The influence of 19th Century novelist George MacDonald can still be seen in the fantasy genre today. C.S. Lewis referred to MacDonald as his “master.” Tolkien called his fairy tales “stories of power and beauty.” MacDonald encouraged his friend C. L. Dodgson to publish his children stories — later known to the world as Alice in Wonderland under the pen name Lewis Carroll. MacDonald unintentionally became the father of modern fantasy.

Biographer Michael R. Phillips writes he was “deeply challenged with the magnitude and complexity” of telling MacDonald’s life:

…[MacDonald had a] tremendous variety of…literary genres — he was [also] a theologian, a spiritual mystic, a poet, a novelist, a preacher, a scientist, an essayist, a highly successful lecturer, a teacher, an actor, an editor and a fantasy writer — his ideas defy categorization and pigeon-hole analysis.

That MacDonald was a writer can be seen in his comments on potential biographies on himself. He maintained “that no biography should be written, stating that his books contained all he had to say to the world…” Phillips continues:

But it is my hope to convey George MacDonald’s thoughts and emotions…[which are] most strongly reflected through his literary works…his fictional characters were a means of communicating his own ideas and view of the world…The words he wrote…illuminate what he thought about, how he approached his quandaries, what kinds of questions he asked, and what answers he found…His books are the fullest means we have to get under the surface of his thought-skin to discover what really made him tick.

Therein lies a truth for all writers. Their fiction is art, entertainment and conveyor of ideas and messages. Ultimately, though, no matter how they try not to (if they try not to), parts of their story is also in the tales they tell.

I have written often here that everyone has a story to tell. That doesn’t just mean in the sense of sci-fi, fantasy, thriller or romance. It means the stories that reveal who you are, regardless of what background you tell it against.

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

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