15/12/2008

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (by Madeleine L'Engle)

I've read a few children's novels by Madeleine L'Engle, the best-known of which is probably 'A Wrinkle in Time'. I read this classic to my sons when they were about ten and twelve, and then we bought some of her other books.

However I hadn't read any of her non-fiction writing until I came across 'Walking on Water' in a charity shop, fairly recently. I've been reading it over the past few days, and have found it inspiring, thought-provoking, and very readable. Indeed, when I finished it this morning, I went right back to the beginning and re-read the first chapter.

The book is, basically, short snippets gathered together in chapters. It recounts some of the author's own questions and journey through life, in particular as she considers questions such as, 'What is Christian art?' She takes the viewpoint that bad art - whether or not it involves Christian/religious symbolism - is not Christian, because it does not glorify God.

She also believes that good art - whether painting, craftwork, music or writing - will always, in some way, resemble prayer and the process of giving birth. I had not really thought of it this way before, but agree with her wholeheartedly.

There is something of God the Creator in us all, whether or not we acknowledge him, and creativity or beauty that shows something of his worth is, in some sense, 'Christian' whether or not the creator of the work is a believer.

With anecdotes and questions, ponderings and quotations that she wrote down in a notebook over the years, Madeleine L'Engle manages to address many deep questions without ever becoming over-technical or theological.

Highly recommended for anyone who ever wondered what 'Christian art' might be - or even whether such a concept exists - or who is involved in any way in creative work such as music, art or writing. I shall be looking out for more of this author's writing now, although unfortunately most of her non-fiction books seem to be out of print currently.

'Walking on Water', however, is still in print in both the UK and USA.

Review copyright Sue's Book Reviews, 15th December 2008

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