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His works range from fairytales like The Light Princess that deepen my sense of awe and gratitude for Christ's gift of salvation, to the deep spiritual insights presented in fresh ways in his children's books including The Princess and the Goblin and At the Back of the North Wind, to the examples of living out a growing faith through obedience shown in his novels such as What's Mine's Mine*, Sir Gibbie, and The Marquis of Lossie.
But lest you should go out, pick up some of his books, and lose any confidence in my opinion, I should qualify my recommendation. I do not agree with several points of his theology or social ideas rooted in the class system of 19th century England. In addition the Gothic fiction influence in several of his novels is often repulsive to me, and he can be too wordy.
Nevertheless, George MacDonald has positively influenced my faith more than probably any other writer of fiction. As C.S. Lewis said of MacDonald, "I have never concealed the fact that I regarded him as my master; indeed I fancy I have never written a book in which I did not quote from him."
Another quote I have heard attributed to C.S. Lewis says:
"Good fiction is a ship carrying a cargo of truth."
Along the same lines (from Mildred Keith by Martha Finley):
"'I love the Bible,' said Effie, 'I never could do without it; its words often come to me when I am sad and suffering and are "sweeter than honey and the honeycomb," but reading other good books seems like talking with a Christian friend, and refreshes me in the same way.'"
"The next day was very lovely. I think it is the last of the kind of which I shall have occasion to write in my narrative of the Seaboard Parish. I wonder if my readers are tired of so much about the common things of Nature. I reason about it something in this way: We are so easily affected by the smallest things that are of the unpleasant kind, that we ought to train ourselves to the influence of those that are of an opposite nature. The unpleasant ones are like the thorns which make themselves felt as we scramble - for we often do scramble in a very undignified manner - through the thickets of life; and, feeling the thorns, we grumble, and are blind to all but the thorns.
The flowers, and the lovely leaves, and the red berries, and the clusters of filberts, and the birds'-nests do not force themselves upon our attention as the thorns do, and the thorns make us forget to look for them. But a scratch would be forgotten - and that in mental hurts is often equivalent to a cure, for a forgotten scratch on the mind or heart will never fester - if we but allowed our being a moment's repose upon any of the quiet, waiting, unobtrusive beauties that lie around the half-trodden way, offering their gentle healing.
And when I think how, not unfrequently, otherwise noble characters are anything but admirable when under the influence of trifling irritations, the very paltriness of which seems what the mind, which would at once rouse itself to a noble endurance of any mighty evil, is unable to endure, I would gladly help so with sweet antidotes to defeat the fly in the ointment of the apothecary that the whole pot shall send forth a pure savour.
We ought for this to cultivate the friendships of little things. Beauty is one of the surest antidotes to vexation. Often when life looked dreary about me, from some real or fancied injustice or indignity, has a thought of truth been flashed into my mind from a flower, a shape of frost, or even a lingering shadow - not to mention such glories as angel-winged clouds, rainbows, stars, and sunrises. Therefore I hope that in my loving delay over such aspects of Nature as impressed themselves upon me in this most memorable part of my history I shall not prove wearisome to my reader, for therin I should utterly contravene my hope and intent in the recording of them."
* I just finished the nearly two year project of recording What's Mine's Mine for LibriVox. Look for a later post when it has been proofed and catalogued.
NOTE: To attempt more of an answer to the questions this post has raised, see my later post A George MacDonald Caveat