Shane, the computer wizard

I was fumbling around trying to figure out how to work this WordPress blog and sent out an SOS for help to upload a picture. I mean, let’s be honest, folks. This Blog is a bit too plain. Lots of words – but no pictures?

Shane from Rochester was amazing – without even telling him who the server is for this website, he figured it out and how to solve the picture problem. Kudos, kudos, kudos!

And now, ladies and germs, I will make a picture appear before your very eyes after saying the magic words: “Abracadabra, alacazam, please and thank-you”:


This is the latest Zossima Press book (click on picture to enlarge) – and if you want to know more about it, read on . . .

This is two books in one – by two different authors. The first book The Diary of an Old Soul is by George MacDonald and was first published in 1880. It contains a seven-line rhyming poem for each day of the year. The poems are very honest and personal – reflecting MacDonald’s struggles with faith (Hmmm, sounds like JK Rowling. Imagine, having to struggle to have faith. How unique.) Anyway, George and his wife, Louisa, had 11 children, two of them died just prior to his writing these poems. MacDonald didn’t have an easy life, but he struggled hard to remain faithful to God and remain hopeful in the midst of trials. If this sounds like your faith life sometimes, then you might like these poems.

When MacDonald published the book, every other page was left blank – a “White Page” so to speak. And he wrote a Dedication Poem for his readers indicating that they should respond by writing their own meditations after reading his poems. Here’s what he wrote:

Sweet friends, receive my offering. You will find
Against each worded page a white page set:-
This is the mirror of each friendly mind
Reflecting that. In this book we are met.
Make it, dear hearts, of worth to you indeed: –
Let your white page be ground, my print be seed,
Growing to golden ears, that faith and hope shall feed.

Betty Aberlin read the Dedication poem from 1880 (it was removed from all subsequent editions in 1885, 1897, 1905, 1909, 1914, 1927, 1975, etc.) and decided to accept MacDonald’s invitation. She wrote her own poems following MacDonald’s style of a seven line rhyming poem. Here’s something about Betty from our initial marketing material:

“Betty Aberlin, a Russian-American actor and writer, raised in post-Holocaust Orthodox Jewish atheism and nurtured in the arts and theater, first read MacDonald’s Dedication poem in 2002. Beginning on January 1st, 2003, she began to respond each day with poems of her own. Having begun an earnest journey of faith nearly 10 year earlier, her interaction with MacDonald’s poems provided inspiration to express the struggles and joys of her own experience. The resulting poems show the influences of Judaism, Christianity and lessons learned through nature and art.

It should be mentioned that although The White Page Poems retain the 7-line rhyming pattern, the substance of the poems do not try to imitate MacDonald’s message. Rather than forcing MacDonald’s spirit into her own poetry, Betty Aberlin has created a unique blend of themes and images, pouring them into this poetic form to create a second cycle of daily readings. Her vision is fresh and honest, not sugary-sweet, showing a keen observation of nature and human nature – from the exhilaration of faith, hope and love to the despairs of war, rejection and failure.

In a time when so few books of poetry are available to stretch the imaginations of readers to “see” things that are best expressed by a poetic imagination, Zossima Press is pleased to have discovered a poet who fulfills the desire of MacDonald’s original invitation. Here is a contemporary poetic voice who opens additional paths for spiritual reflection – touching the heart of what it means to struggle and hope in faith.”

Betty was a featured author on Sunday September 23rd at the “BIG E” fair in Massachusettes. It was our “coming out” party for this poet’s first published book. I’ve been working with Betty for several years on this project, and I’m very proud of her amazing accomplishment.

Here’s an endorsement of her book from Dr. Don King, professor of English at Montreat College in North Carolina and author of C.S. Lewis, Poet (Kent University Press):

In a fascinating new book George Macdonald’s The Diary of an Old Soul is paired with Betty K Aberlin’s The White Page Poems. Each of Macdonald’s seven line poems, one for each day of the year, is set opposite to one by Aberlin. While she sometimes uses a thought from Macdonald’s poem as a springboard for her own, more often than not she moves off in a new direction, the result being a fresh, incisive, personal reflection. Never glib or facile, Aberlin’s poems offer glimpses of her spiritual journey—one that many will find winsome and appealing.

Come back on Wednesday night, and I’ll post some of Betty’s poems for you to read. I wonder, how many of you who read HogPro are familiar with MacDonald’s books?


  1. I was familiar with MacDonald years before I had heard of JKR. I haven’t read all of his works, but enough to appreciate him greatly. Knowing that C.S. Lewis referred to him as “my master”, claimed that there wasn’t a single book that he (Lewis) wrote in which he didn’t either knowingly or unknowingly quote or paraphrase MacDonald, and said that reading MacDonald’s book “Phantastes” as a teenager “baptized my imagination” led me to investigate MacDonald.

    Rolland Hein’s book “Christian Mythmakers” contains an excellent section on MacDonald. Hein, one of the leading experts on MacDonald’s life and writing, has several other published works related to MacDonald as well.

  2. Hi Karl – (Bob logged in as John). One of these days I will be announcing Zossima Press publication of another MacDonald related book – – “George MacDonald: Literary Heritage and Heirs.” It contains 14 essays on MacDonald’s writings. The best collection since 1992 (and, personally, I think this is the best collection of essays ever). They were presented at Baylor University at the centennial conference in 2005. Stay tuned for more information.

  3. I’ve read MacDonald’s Lilith and Phantastes, and think they are unique with lots of Potter parallels. I also recommend Heins’ “Christian Mythmakers,” mentioned above–a great book on several mythopoeic writers. I also enjoy Charles Williams, and especially “The Place of the Lion.”

  4. Arabella Figg says

    I encountered MacDonald through his fairy tales, published as a two-book collection in the ’70s. I thought they were lovely. I may have read more by him but can’t remember. Although I haven’t read much of him, a friend of mine is a MacDonald enthusiast and I’ll copy this thread for her. Thanks!

    If George didn’t like cats, the kitties aren’t interested…

  5. Arabella Figg says

    It appears since the photos addtion, I’m having trouble with the blog now, re the Internet server. Perhaps you could straigten this bug out. Thanks!

    Kitties, but not I, love bugs…

  6. Robert Trexler says

    Sorry, Arabella, about the pictures creating problems. I will fix it as soon as I can figure out a solution.

  7. Robert Trexler says

    Well, isn’t this like Alice in Wonderland? “One pill makes you larger and the other makes you small.”

    Shane emailed me one idea to make the picture 25% smaller, but it messed up the text for some reason – I probably did something wrong. But there is an option to put a “thumbnail” size picture in place, so I will use that until another day when I have time to do more experimenting.

    Does this solve everyone’s display problems? (you can click the thumbnail to enlarge the picture)

  8. Arabella Figg says

    Things are working fine for me now, Bob, thanks!

  9. New Technology says

    I am rowan atkinson. I am agree with you. I most like your work.
    Well, isn’t this like Alice in Wonderland? “One pill makes you larger and the other makes you small.”
    I encountered MacDonald through his fairy tales, published as a two-book collection in the ’70s.

Speak Your Mind