Finished off a couple of books today that I'd started a little while ago:
True Vine: Meditations for a Month on John 15:1-16 by Andrew Murray. Like other things Murray has written, this book mostly centers around complete surrender of the self and reliance on Christ. Someone inclined to be critical of this book could point out its repetitiousness, as Murray often repeats himself and circles back to the same ideas—much like Jesus does—making the structure come across as more Eastern than Western. I'm not inclined to complain, however, as I found the concepts that Murray expounds to be worth repeated, slow reflection. It's a book that's good in the sense that it is good thing if the reader can put these concepts into practice.
Within and Without (dramatic poem from The Complete Poetical Works of George MacDonald, vol. 1): I thought at first that maybe this was going to be the story of Saint Julian—apparently there are several of these, though I don't know anything about any of them—but apparently not. The poem starts out digging into the thoughts and prayer life of a monk, Julian, as he struggles earnestly with seeking God in prayer and not being able to sense his presence, which is all well and good and which I personally found quite riveting. I was rather shocked, however when he ran away from his monastery (breaking his monastic oaths), killed a man in order to rescue the woman he was in love with, got married, and had a child. Then in the middle of the poem the story became one of those obnoxious dramas where all the characters' problems (misunderstandings) would be totally solved if only they talked to each other normally and told each other what they were thinking. However, the view into Julian's prayer life, which is what drew me into the story in the first place, never totally ceases; although I didn't find the rest of the story as fascinating as its beginning, there are still some admirable things about the sense of childlike trust that Julian learns to have in God, and the ending is beautiful, all the more so for its moments of sadness.
Let others believe in the God who brings men to trial and judges them. I shall cling to the God who resurrects the dead.
-St. Nikolai VelimirovichMAL