Edition: Bethany House Publishers, published as The Shepherd's Castle
Read: November 2012
Rated: 4 out of 5
This is the sequel to MacDonald's book, Sir Gibbie. It takes Gibbie's friend Donald Grant and follows him as he learns to find a place in the world. He becomes a tutor to the son of an Earl. The earl's niece takes notice of this special person as they solve the mystery of the castle's lost room.
But if you read this book as a mystery or love story, you will be disappointed. It is much more MacDonald's lessons to his readers about living a godly life when you are surrounded by evil. Making choices and following God with a sense of holiness.
The version I read has some modernizations to it, including toning town some of the Scottish.
MacDonald talks about what life with God is like. This starts off within the first few pages where he hits pretty close to home with books. Donal Grant has set off to find himself a position as a tutor. He hopes to find one which has a good library because he knew his own inclination to accumulate and hoard (12). Towards the end of the book, Grant inherits the castle where he stays, but he gives it away so that he would not be encumbered. But he is wise in his giving it away as he chooses a man who will see to it that it gets put up right.
Even more than about possessions is the example of right conduct which Grant sets. From the start as a tutor to the Earl's younger son, Grant shows that you do return good for evil. Such as when the older son punches Grant, Grant does not fight but forgives. When asked to explain, he says that his master says do not return evil for evil. (47)
MacDonald puts words into Lady Arcuta's mouth when she is talking with the older son. The son is trying to court Lady Arcuta by becoming her tutor. She responds that he has no love for mathematics or Greek and only those who have that love can teach (222). If there is no drive to learn in yourself, how can you instill that desire in someone else? That can extend out to other things, if you do not have the desire to do good, then the task you do will fall short.
What makes this book good is not MacDonald's flair for writing, but his underlying understanding what what it takes to live a Christian life. He is able to bring this life alive through his characters. Modern readers might take issue that Grant and Lady Arcuta are too good to be true, but that could also be said of those rare people like Mother Teresa and a host of currently unknown people who serve God wholeheartedly.
• physiology (95)-the branch of science concerned with the functioning of organisms; the processes and functions of all or part of an organism
- First Line: It was a lovely morning in the first of summer.
- Last Line: It seems to say to those who can redit it, “I know in whom I believe... and all is well.”
- ….I do not think she had ever in her life been in love with anybody but herself. She was a good theologian—so good that when she was near, you could not get within sight of God... (58)
- Obedience is the road to all things. It is the only way to grow able to trust him. (62)
- The gospel is given to convince, not our understandings, but our hearts; that done, and never till then, our understandings will be free (97)
- when one is miserable, misery seems the law of being; and in the midst of it dwells some thought which nothing can ever set right! (127)
- The right and the power to use it [a possession] to its true purpose, and the using it so, are the conditions that make a thing ours. (129)
- For to honour, love, and be just to our neighbour, is religion; and he who does these things will soon find that he cannot live without the higher part of religion, the love of God. (169)
- Everyone is born nearer to God than to any ancestor, and it rests with him to cultivate either the godness or the selfness in him, his original or his mere ancestral nature. (180)
- It is only righteousness that has a right to secrecy, and does not want it; evil has no right to secrecy. (206)
- Self is is the most cursed friend a man can have. (230)
- God cannot help men with wisdom when their minds are in too great a tumult to hear what he says! (242)
- The sepulchre is the only resurrection-house! (260)
- CCEL's Book online