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Monday, October 31, 2016

The Spirit of Writing: Review of "Walking on Water" by Madeleine L'Engle

The Spirit of Writing
            Along with ‘Dancing on the Head of a Pen’ (Robert Benson) and ‘Creator Spirit’ (Steven Guthrie), ‘Walking on Water’ by Madeleine L’Engle is among the beautiful descriptions of the creative process that I have read.  And like Guthrie, L’Engle shows the way creativity and one’s life as a Christian are inevitably intertwined.  The Christian does not create ‘Christian art.’  The artist works very hard to create beautiful art (be it poetry, music, novels, plays, or paintings).  Because the artist follows Jesus Christ, what she ends up creating is infused with the Holy Spirit.  The Spirit speaks through the art without the work being intentionally evangelistic.  L’Engle writes beautifully about both Christianity and the creative process.
            One great insight of the book is the way science expands (not reduces) one’s faith.  L’Engle wrote this at the beginning of the 80’s, long before Francis Collins and John Polkinghorne and others taught us that science can actually grow someone as a believer and Christ follower.  L’Engle was saying this almost 4 decades ago. 
            She doesn’t trust theology as a discipline nearly as much as she trusts the way scientific discovery can grow the faith of the believer.  Perhaps this is because writers like Polkinghorne and Alister McGrath and N.T. Wright had not yet become popular in her time.  Perhaps she was listening to the wrong theologians.  But, she admits more than once her own prejudice against theology.  I found her admission to be a welcome expression of humility.
            L’Engle resides in a world of artists who that some readers may find difficult to access.  She recognizes that and tries repeatedly to close the gap while at the same time remaining firmly planted in the world of dreamers and seers and creators.  If a reader struggles to see as L’Engle sees, I recommend pushing through and attempting to see differently.  See with childlike imagination.  The world is a big place, and artists like Madeleine L’Engle help the rest of us see more of it.  

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review."

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