Fathers of Many Children

post by Superversive Press author, Thomas Davidsmeier

“Yes, they’re all mine.”

I’m often forced to give that answer when I’ve got my eight children with me out on an excursion. But, I don’t compare to one of the characters in George MacDonald’s novel, Lilith. He has billions of children, though lucky for him, they’re in permanent nap time.

My eight children love C.S. Lewis. He is considered by many modern superversive authors (this one included) to be a major influence. But, C.S. Lewis listed George MacDonald (1824-1905) as his greatest influence. So much so, that in Lewis’s tour of the afterlife ala Dante in The Great Divorce, Lewis had George MacDonald acting as his Virgil. Chesterton, Tolkien, L’Engle, de la Mare, and Edith Nesbit have all given MacDonald credit for influencing them and their work.

MacDonald’s Lilith is one of the most superversive works I’ve ever read, and one can easily draw the lines from many of its elements to parts of C.S. Lewis’s more famous works.

The story starts with a lonely young man moving back to his ancestral country estate. But, as with old houses in stories like this, mysteries abound. An apparition in the library, half a manuscript seemingly glued into a false bookshelf, a strange mirror in a disused tower garrett that can become a doorway, these are just the beginnings of a truly weird tale.

The story has the weirdness and otherworldly qualities of Lovecraft, but is completely devoid of the nihilism and idea of man being overwhelmed by the impersonal cosmos. The imagery is rich and reminiscent at moments of Gulliver’s Travels, but it is more innocent and direct than Swift. One can easily see that MacDonald was a pastor and teacher of Christian ideas.

I don’t want to spoil any piece of this wonderful story for you, especially because I had the pleasure of reading it with absolutely no hint what it was going to be about.  All I had going in was the title.

Lilith is a character originally from Jewish mythology that was developed over the centuries. She eventually was described as the first wife of Adam, created from the same earth as him, and not from his rib as Eve was. Lilith refuses to become subservient to Adam and leaves the Garden of Eden. It is this character that George MacDonald weaves into his beautiful tale.

The tale swirls around morality, doing what is right even if it brings you hurt, and a beautiful, utterly Christian vision of redemption and rebirth.

The whole story paints a deep portrait of one of the most poignant moments in the Bible. It is a high complement to say that a story gives a vantage point to gain insight into God’s word.

Revelation 21:4-5

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me,’Write, for these words are true and faithful.’”

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Thomas Davidsmeier first novel, Blessings and Trials, will be released by Superversive Press this Easter.