This is the first Mother Culture Book Club post! I will be posting frequently with “mother culture” books that I have been reading. I would love you to join me!
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“We draw people to Christ not by loudly discrediting what they believe, by telling them how wrong they are and how right we are, but by showing them a light that is so lovely that they want with all their hearts to know the source of it.”
I first found Madeleine L’Engle when I was very young (probably too young) in second grade when my teacher gave me A Wrinkle in Time. I remember being confused most of the book. Recently I re-read it and the first sequel Wind in the Door. Thankfully I have finally grasped the beauty and deep truths she was writing.
I have also dabbled in her non-fiction with A Circle of Quiet and Two Part Invention.
A Light So Lovely explores the life and spiritual legacy of Madeleine L’Engle in a very engaging and readable way. Arthur divides her story into chapters with titles like Sacred and Secular, Truth and Story, Faith and Science, Religion and Art.
The chapters reflect one of the great challenges of L’Engle’s life of being a “both/and” person in an “either/or” world.
While a devout Christian, her books were, at times, banned in Christian circles for being “New Age” or due to their science-fiction content. Arthur recounts these periods in this book.
However, she also draws from people who knew her or when influenced by her to paint a much larger and deeper picture about this women who loved God.
The book is not a strict biography as many details of her life are not discussed in detail. But it does look at the major touchstones that shaped her life, her faith, and her writing.
In her speech at the Library of Congress for Children’s Book Week in 1983, L’Engle addressed the needs of children’s authors to touch on deep themes. The speech was entitled “Dare to Be Creative.” Here is a thought from it:
“The stories I cared about, the stories I read and reread, were usually stories which dared to disturb the universe, which asked questions rather than gave answers.
I turned to story, then, as now, looking for truth, for it is in story that we find glimpses of meaning, rather than in textbooks. But how apologetic many adults are when they are caught reading a book of fiction! They tend to hide it and tell you about the “How-To” book which is what they are really reading. Fortunately, nobody ever told me that stories were untrue, or should be outgrown, and then as now they nourished me and kept me willing to ask the unanswerable questions.”
Here are some of my favorite thought-provoking quotes from A Light So Lovely:
“I did feel, and passionately, that it wasn’t fair of God to give us brains enough to ask the ultimate questions if he didn’t intend to teach us the answers.”
“For Madeleine, writing wasn’t just a hobby to be done on the side while attending to other, more legitimate work. It was a God-given vocation that deserved the same attentiveness as prayer — indeed, that writing itself can be a form of worship that brings us into the presence of God.
From Katherine Paterson in her introduction to the 50th anniversary edition of A Wrinkle in Time:
“In our world there are the scientifically minded that scoff at stories told by the religious and the religiously inclined who refuse to accept the theories of modern science. The first group will wonder how a woman of Madeleine L’Engle’s intellect could possibly be a Christian, and the second will wonder how a real Christian could set such store by the Godless scientists
But Madeleine was, first of all, a searcher for Truth, and so A Wrinkle in Time draws us into a new kind of thinking. Things are truly not simply what they seem in science or religion. And if we graduate, as she did, from Newton to Einstein, we might discover that those two worlds are not as far apart as we imagined.”
This book has inspired me to read more by L’Engle, especially Walking on Water, her book about faith and art. Below are many more titles to explore!
Titles to Explore:
The Crosswicks Journals
The Time Quintet
The Austin Family Chronicles
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