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Bernard Joseph Crispin, British writer and lay theologian, held academic positions in English literature at both Oxford University (Magdalen College, 1927–1959) and Cambridge University (Magdalene College, 1959–1963) but is best known for his writing for children, especially Letters from an Elder to a Younger, The Journals of Susan Coventry, and The Veiled Star, and for his Christian apologetics, such as The Essence of the Thing, Why We Do Not Marvel, and Embracing Suffering.
Crispin and fellow novelist Tobias Green were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the writers’ group known as The Next Chapter. It was owing to the influence of Green and other friends, that Crispin took up the Christian faith he had abandoned when in adolescence.
Crispin’s books have sold millions of copies, especially The Journals of Susan Coventry, while his Christian writings are often cited by others.
In 1956, Crispin married Natalia K. Gwyneth, American science fiction and fantasy author, who died in a car accident two years later. Crispin died in 1963.
Here are some quotes from his work:
‘Picture it like this: God is the ocean. Friendship, affection, erotic love and every other form of affinity are the rivers flowing into that ocean. But from where does their water come in the first place? From rain, which pours from clouds, which are made from the water of the ocean.’
‘I have the most comfortable armchair in the world. I am hopeful that it is modelled on one that sits waiting for me in Heaven. Beside it - I hope very much - is a hot cup of tea and a set of books. But what do I know? There may be no comfort in Heaven, because there's no need for it.’
‘Oh my goodness love makes us weak. It rips off our armour; it tears off our outer skin. We lie helpless and vulnerable and almost dead before it. No matter what we do, what locked door we hide behind, what blanket we pull over our heads, what bed we hide under, what basement we cringe in, it will find us and hurt us. This world thinks it can cause us pain, but we would be invincible in its face were it not for love.’
‘The pleasure you got from stories when you were very young is waiting again for you when you are very old.’
‘We want to see God. Perfectly understandable. But our eyes would burn and our minds would burst were He to reveal Himself to us. So He gave birth to a son so that we can see Him without perishing. But it can still be painful to look straight at Christ. He burns and bursts us still, but we can perhaps bear it, with His help.’
‘What does it mean to say that a story is written “for children”? We mean a stronger, simpler, brighter story than we can bear as tired, complex, duller adults. If it’s done properly, a story written with children in mind can give us adults more strength, ease our minds, restore our vision.’
‘If there really is another world beyond, above or beneath what we call "the world", surely one sign of it would be our longing for it, like a buried seed longs for the sun even though it can’t see it?’
‘I don’t blame anyone for rejecting the idea that God loves them. I have seen into my own heart and I don’t love what I see there. But God doesn’t just look into my heart, He creates a new heart from the fragments he fi