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Posts Tagged ‘Madeleine L’Engle’

 

No doubt many moviegoers looked forward to last Friday when the film A Wrinkle in Time premiered.

Perhaps like me they had read the book of the same title and relished every page of the Newbery Award winner (1963), written by Madeleine L’Engle. Fans of the novel surely hoped the film would offer the same intriguing juxtaposition of science and fantasy, as well as the thought-provoking allegory of the divine versus demonic.

Some Wrinkle-in-Time fans may not know that L’Engle was a Christian, and wrote the book as a way to express her reflections about God.

“If I’ve ever written a book that says what I feel about God and the universe, this is it,” L’Engle journaled. “This is my psalm of praise to life, my stand for life against death” (1).

 

 

L’Engle grew up with a church background, but in her 30s wrestled with such essential questions as: Does God exist? Why are we here? Do we exist after death? Her strong faith in God developed over time, her granddaughter has explained, a slow “acceptance of what she had always known to be true” (2).

As L’Engle’s faith grew, she established the daily habits of Bible reading and prayer. Her writings began to reflect her devotion to God and deep love of scripture.  A Wrinkle in Time is no exception. Several characters frequently quote from the Bible.

L’Engle discovered: “Faith is what makes life bearable, with all its tragedies and ambiguities and sudden, startling joys” (3).

L’Engle’s faith did indeed carry her through several tragedies. Her father died when she was eighteen, the result of lung damage during World War I.   Close friends died, survived by their young daughter, Maria. L’Engle and her husband Hugh adopted the child, only to struggle through Maria’s emotional turmoil as time passed. Then, after forty years of marriage, her beloved Hugh died of cancer.

L’Engle eventually wrote: “We trust as [Medieval mystic] Lady Julian of Norwich trusted, knowing that despite all the pain and horror of the world, ultimately God’s loving purpose will be fulfilled and ‘all things shall be well…and all manner of things shall be well.’ And this all-wellness…does not come to us because we are clever or virtuous but comes as a gift of grace” (4).

 

(www.quotefancy.com)

 

She saw Christianity as a paradox. On the one hand is the infinite, unfathomable God beyond comprehension, but who was at the same time a finite human being–Jesus–who died for us on a cross.

“To believe the universe was created by a purposeful being is one thing,” she wrote. “To believe this Creator took on human vesture, accepted death and mortality, was tempted, betrayed, broken, and all for love of us, defies reason” (5).

 

 

L’Engle often wove Christian themes into her stories. Sadly, filmmakers chose to downplay the faith elements of A Wrinkle in Time, and focus on the fantasy and special effects. What’s left is a confusing storyline and muddled message. Many critics admit to disappointment and confusion (6).

In an interview the film’s screenwriter explained the decision for removing all traces of Christian reference:

“I think there are a lot of elements of what [L’Engle] wrote that we have progressed on as a society, and we can move on to the other elements” (7).

Oh? We can move on from the element of truth?

Like Madeleine L’Engle, we must wrestle with the essential matters of truth and faith; we must be certain of the reasons and evidence for our beliefs, because…

 

 

Notes:

(1) https://www.washingtonpost.com/new/acts.of.faith/wp/2018/03/08/the-deep-faith-of-a-wrinkle-in-time

(2) Same source as above.

(3) From Walking on Water (Crosswicks, 2001), by Madeleine L’Engle

(4) Same source as above.

(5) From Penguins and Calves (Shaw Books, 2003), by Madeleine L’Engle

(6) http://www.businessinsider.com/wrinkle-in-time-movie-changes-book-religion-christianity-ending-2018-3

(7) https://uproxx.com/movies/jennifer-lee-wrinkle-in-time-frozen-2/2/

 

Additional sources:

  1. www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2018/march-web-only/hollywood-spiritual-themes-wrinkle-time-madeleine-lengle.html
  2. http://exhumator.com/00-139-00_esoteric-religious-spiritual-engle-madeleine.html
  3. https://www.franciscanmedia.org/madeleine-lengle-an-epic-in-time/

 

Photo credits:  http://www.flickr.com (2); http://www.quotefancy.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.canva.com.

 

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M.’s heart picked up its pace as her eyes took in the return address. Would this letter contain news to celebrate? It was her birthday—her fortieth. What could be more perfect than to receive the announcement she longed to read? M. tore open the envelope.

 

“Thank you for your recent manuscript submission. Regretfully

it does not coincide with our current publishing objectives…”

 

This was not the first rejection letter M. had received. In spite of early triumphs as an author, she had not written a successful book in a decade. This letter, on this day, brought tears to her eyes, and M. considered giving up.

“But I’m a writer,” she wrote in her journal. “That’s who I am, even if I’m never published again.”

M. began work on another book only to have it rejected nearly thirty times. Finally it sold. The book? A Wrinkle in Time, a beloved book of millions. And for it, Madeleine L’Engle was awarded the Newbery Medal for Children’s Literature in 1962 (1).

 

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Surely Mrs. L’Engle would be among those to tell us: Failure is a reality of everyone’s life. Even the most successful people have failed at one time or another.

But when we’re drowning in the despair of failure, we tend to forget its universality.

We also forget:

1. God always makes good use of failure—to develop maturity, wisdom, and humility. 

Think of Peter, who denied Jesus three times as his Messiah was being interrogated by the chief priests and Sanhedrin (Matthew 26). Yet Peter became the rock on which Christ built his church (Matthew 16:18).

 

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2.  Our failures may well be part of God’s bigger purpose.

General Robert E. Lee, commander of the Confederate army during the Civil War, wrote this in 1869:

 

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(“We failed, but in the good providence of God

apparent failure often proves a blessing.”)

 

Even out of the horrific devastation of that war, God did bring blessing. Among them: The Red Cross was founded, a number of hospitals were established, and in the decades that followed, America rose from the ashes stronger than ever.

 

3,  The lack of results does not necessarily indicate failure.

 ‘Ever hear of Edward Kimball? I hadn’t—until recently. Edward once introduced a young shoe salesman to Jesus. That salesman grew in faith by leaps and bounds, and strongly desired that others know the One who changed his life so dramatically. The salsman’s name: Dwight L. Moody—evangelist extraordinaire and founder of Moody Bible Institute.

 

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By comparison to Moody’s stellar accomplishments and resulting fame within the Christian community, Mr. Kimball seems a nobody. But the ripple effect that still reaches around the world today through Moody (2) can be traced back to Kimball.

Most of us will never know the ripple effect emanating from our lives until we reach heaven. It’s probably just as well. What we don’t know can’t go to our heads.

 

4.  True success is not financial security, great respect from throngs of people, or high rank in the public arena.  “True success is growing intimacy with God” (3). 

My eyes are often distracted by the wrong prize.

 

Big Stones in Sand Hills of Samaria, Israel, Retro Effect

(“Our greatest fear should not be of  failure

but of succeeding at something

that doesn’t really matter.”

–D. L. Moody)

 

Failure is actually a blessing. God uses it to:

  • a) foster spiritual growth,
  • b) accomplish his purpose,
  • c) guide us into greater intimacy with him, and
  • d) redirect our focus.

Oh, God, help me to embrace failure and the blessed lessons it brings!

 

Notes:

(1) Information about Madeleine L’Engle from http://www.neh.gov.

(2) Thousands of graduates from Moody Bible Institute have served God as pastors, missionaries, and more over the 130 years since its founding in 1886. Millions more have been impacted by Moody Radio and Moody Publishing.

(3) J. I. Packer, Knowing God, 1973, p. 314.

 

Art & photo credits:  www.savannahnow.com; http://www.wikipedia.org; http://www.pinterest.com; http://www.azquotes.com; http://www.likesuccess.com; http://www.quotesgram.com.

 

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