“Reminding ourselves that Beauty is one in being with the Good and the True, we should remember that the beautiful always leads us back to love and reason. The lifting up of the heart in the presence of beauty enables us to give our hearts in love and to raise our heads in contemplation. This is the evangelizing power of beauty. It can save souls. It can save the world. Let us go forth and preach the Gospel in the name of the Good, the True and the Beautiful!” – Joseph Pearce, The Power of the Good, the True, & the Beautiful
With my Princess and the Goblin book club, I chose to use this powerful fairy tale to explore the seven cardinal virtues with my young readers. Plato gave us the four cardinal virtues which St. Thomas Aquinas dubbed the four “Human Virtues”: Prudence, Temperance, Fortitude (or Courage), and Justice. St. Thomas Aquinas added to them the three theological virtues from which all virtue descends. The “Theological Virtues” are, obviously, from St. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians: Faith, Hope, and Love. I think that MacDonald’s characters are classic examples of virtue in action and I think that after enjoying the beauty of the story for its own sake, it is equally rewarding to consider how the characters respond to their challenges in virtuous ways.
After opening with prayer and spending a few minutes talking about who George MacDonald was, we will talk our way through the story map. (The story map idea is explained in our Bark of the Bog Owl book club post.)
While we talk, we will snack on some traditional Scottish Tea Bread in honor of George MacDonald’s Scottish identity and the references to Curdie eating bread in the mines. I searched for a traditional bread recipe and discovered this gem. Despite being super simple, it is absolutely delicious. Not too sweet and not too heavy. Somewhere between a muffin and bread, it is hearty for my boy readers and just sweet enough to be tempting. You can find the recipe here.
After talking through the story itself, we are going to talk about the Cardinal Virtues. The “CCC” reference denotes the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The “Wisdom” reference denotes the Book of Wisdom present in Catholic bibles.
And once we have studied the Cardinal Virtues, we will consider how the characters responded to their challenges virtuously.
I presume that non-Catholics who object to the Catholic references could easily choose not to use these sheets and instead substitute with some similar bible study on virtue.
Book Club Resources
Oooh! Today the Time-Warp Wife posted a free coloring sheet on courage. Perfect for this book club! Check it out here.