(Obligatory Disclosure: I received a copy of A Light So Lovely in exchange for my review. This post also contains affiliate links.)
As a lifelong avid reader I have read many, many books. I know I read A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’engle long ago, probably as a teen. I just vaguely remember the story line. It wasn’t my cup of tea–at that time anyway. I tried it again with my kids during our homeschool years, but we didn’t get very far into it before setting it aside. It won the Newbery Medal in 1963, so obviously it is considered a “distinguished contribution to American children’s literature.” It’s been so long since I did read it that I can’t really tell you why I didn’t care for it.
That being said, when I was offered the chance to review A Light So Lovely: The Spiritual Legacy of Madeleine L’engle by Sarah Arthur, I was intrigued. I enjoy reading biographies of people I’m familiar with, particularly authors, and while I am obviously not a huge fan of Madeleine L’engle I was interested to learn what her spiritual legacy might be. I’m so glad I did. What an excellent book! Now it makes me wonder if I shouldn’t revisit A Wrinkle in Time or maybe one of Madeleine L’engle’s other books.
First of all, I hadn’t realized that Madeleine L’engle was a Christian. I mean, a “Christian” book wouldn’t have won the Newbery, would it? Madeleine herself addressed that very question:
“…as long as the presence of God is organic within a literary work, secular publishers are not bothered by it, nor do readers find that presence intrusive in any way.”
A Light So Lovely is organized into chapters addressing various paradoxes. I found myself highlighting passages throughout that I wanted to think about some more and come back to. Here are some thoughts I marked in different sections:
“Here’s the ultimate paradox: God uses imperfect people, in every generation, in each unique point in history, to accomplish his purposes…”
“…God can be at work in the sacred and secular, truth and story, fact and fiction, faith and science, religion and art–and we must not foreclose on how Christ will choose to work, nor through whom.”
Sacred and Secular
“Madeleine herself didn’t make a distinction between sacred and secular–or at least, she didn’t define them the way other people did. Madeleine’s understanding of sacred encompassed every aspect of God at work in the world. ‘To be truly Christian means to see Christ everywhere, to know him as all in all.’ There is no sphere where God is not, and thus no place where God is incapable of transforming what evil has deformed.”
Religion and Art
“It turns out, the secret sauce to great writing isn’t some magic formula, but rather, it’s perseverance born out of obedience to a holy calling.”
“For Madeliene, 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.”
“‘When we write a story, we must write to the absolute best of our ability,’ Madeleine said. ‘That is the job, first and foremost. If we are truly Christian, that will be evident, no matter what the topic. If we are not truly Christian, that will also be evident, no matter how pious the tale.'”
If you like books that make you think, I recommend A Light So Lovely. I especially love this quote:
Tell me, have you read A Wrinkle in Time? Anybody seen the movie? What did you think?