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arts / rec.arts.books / 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytelling

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* 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytellingSteve Hayes
`- Re: 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power ofMichael F. Stemper

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'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytelling

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From: hayes...@telkomsa.net (Steve Hayes)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.books.childrens,rec.arts.books,alt.books,alt.books.inklings,alt.religion.christian.episcopal,alt.religion.christianity
Subject: 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytelling
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 2023 05:19:37 +0200
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 by: Steve Hayes - Sat, 28 Oct 2023 03:19 UTC

From the ENS Archives: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle on
the power of storytelling

Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote more than 60 books ranging from
children’s stories to theological reflection, died Sept. 6, 2007, in
Litchfield, Connecticut, at 88. She is shown here two years earlier.
Photo: Square Fish Books

[Episcopal News Service] The March 9 release of Ava DuVernay’s movie
version of the classic — and controversial — children’s book “A
Wrinkle in Time” has brought a new awareness of author Madeleine
L’Engle who was a world-renowned lay Episcopal playwright, poet and
author of fiction and nonfiction books.

L’Engle, who wrote more than 60 books ranging from children’s stories
to theological reflection, died Sept. 6, 2007, in Litchfield,
Connecticut. She was 88. In its obituary of L’Engle, the New York
Times reported that “A Wrinkle in Time” was then in its 69th printing
and had sold 8 million copies. Those figures are sure to increase with
the release of the movie.

“A Wrinkle in Time” won the Newberry Award in 1963. L’Engle traveled
widely from her home base in New York, leading retreats, lecturing at
writers’ conferences and addressing church and student groups abroad.
In 1965 she became a volunteer librarian at the Episcopal Cathedral
Church of St. John the Divine in New York. She later served for many
years as writer-in-residence at the cathedral.

“A Wrinkle in Time” director Ava DuVernay, left, speaks with Storm
Reid, who plays Meg Murry, between scenes. Photo: Walt Disney Pictures

L’Engle’s work expressed her Christian theology and has been compared
to C. S. Lewis. “A Wrinkle in Time” rankled some conservative
Christians and the book ranks 90th on the American Library
Association’s list of the 100 most-banned/challenged books of the
early 2000s. Critics said the book combined Christian themes and the
occult, and they disputed L’Engle’s contention that science and
religion can coexist.

There are echoes of the Gospel of John and 1 Corinthians in the book.
After the disappearance of her scientist father, three peculiar beings
send Meg Murry, her brother and her friend to space in order to find
him. Three mysterious astral travelers known as Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who
and Mrs. Which lead the children on a dangerous journey to a planet
that possesses all the evil in the universe.

In 1995, L’Engle spoke with Episcopal News Service about the power of
storytelling and her theology.

‘Story Is Where We Look for Truth’ An Interview with Madeleine L’Engle
Episcopal News Service
January 19, 1995
By Neil M. Alexander

Neil M. Alexander was vice-president and editorial director of the
United Methodist Publishing House when he interviewed L’Engle. He is
now president and publisher emeritus. He is not to be confused with
Bishop J. Neil Alexander, the current vice president and dean of the
School of Theology at Sewanee The University of the South.

What are you seeking to discover and share through your writing?

I wrote my first story when I was five, because I wanted to know why
my father was coughing his lungs out from mustard gas he was exposed
to in the First World War. Why is it that people hurt each other? Why
don’t people love each other? I learned quickly that a story is the
best place to explore these unanswerable questions. Facts are limited;
they don’t carry us very far. Story is where we look for truth.

Which questions do you find yourself asking over and over again?

All the big ones. The questions that adolescents ask — and that we
should never stop asking. Unless we continually bring questions to our
faith, it will become sterile and cold. And so we ask: Why did God
create the universe? Is there a purpose to it? Why did God take the
incredible risk of making creatures with free will? And this leads us
to ponder why, if God is good, do terrible things happen? Of course,
there are no simple answers. If you have people with free will, they
are going to make mistakes, and our actions do have consequences.

Is too much emphasis given to the importance of individual freedom?
Would it be better if our communities provided more narrow boundaries?

I remember many years ago being in Russia with my husband. After a
concert we were walking back to our hotel late at night, with no fear
whatsoever, through tunnels beneath Red Square. When we came up on the
other side of the square, I turned to my husband and said, “The price
for this sense of security is too high.” With freedom there also comes
risk, but it is worth it.

Ava DuVernay’s movie version of the classic children’s book “A Wrinkle
in Time” was released March 9 and has renewed interest in the book and
its author. It has also prompted a host of other books related to the
story and the movie.

Where do you find the resources to sustain your search, to help you
struggle with the ambiguity of being human?

Reading the Bible has always been a part of my daily life. My parents
were Bible-reading people, and I grew up reading the Bible as a great
storybook, which indeed it is. It is remarkably comforting to me that
of all the protagonists in scriptural stories, not one is qualified to
do what God is asking. In a sense we are all unqualified. If you were
going to start a great nation, would you pick a hundred-year-old man
and a woman past menopause? That’s the kind of thing God does.

I also read in the area of quantum mechanics and particle physics,
because these are disciplines where people are dealing with the nature
of being. These writers describe a universe in which everything is
totally interrelated, where nothing happens in isolation. They have
discovered that nothing can be studied objectively — because to look
at something is to change it and be changed by it. I find such
discussions helpful in framing theological responses to questions
about the nature of the universe.

You have an incredible ability to draw upon your memory, to discern
truth from events in your own life. How might others be helped to
develop this capacity?

One thing that is helpful is keeping an honest and unpublishable
journal. What you write down you tend not to forget. I’ve been keeping
journals since I was eight. It is a way of having a say in the telling
of our own stories. The act of writing it down helps set it in our
memory. For storytellers, memory is very important because we can’t
write a story without drawing on our own experience.

How does that apply to our spiritual pilgrimage as Christians? Do you
think the faith community has developed a good memory to draw upon?

I don’t. I think we have forgotten far too much. I am concerned, for
example, that we take Jesus’ parables out of context. We treat them as
isolated illustrations in and of themselves, but they make much more
sense if you know when they were given in the course of Jesus’
ministry and to whom he was speaking.

I don’t believe you can be a Christian in isolation from the support
and collective memory of the believing community. My church is very
important to me, and so is the group of women I meet with every Monday
for study and prayer. We are in this life together, not alone.

Some time back there were reports about folks speculating that you are
a “new age” thinker. What was that all about?

I haven’t the faintest idea. I once asked someone what led people to
say I was promoting “new age” concepts. The response was, “You mention
the rainbow, and that’s a sign of new age thinking.” I said, “Hey,
wait a minute. The rainbow is the sign of God’s covenant with his
people. Don’t hand our symbols over to those promoting ‘new age’
spirituality. Don’t let faddish groups take away what God has given
us.”

“A Wrinkle in Time,” whose original book jacket is shown here, was
rejected 26 times before it was published and won the Newberry Award
in 1963. Photo: Wikipedia

I was sent a newspaper clipping that cited my book “A Wrinkle in Time”
as one of the 10 most censored books in the United States. When it
first appeared in 1962, it was hailed by many as a Christian work. In
the intervening years not one word of that book has changed. So, what
has happened to cause people to want it banned?
What do you think happened?

I think there are some people who are terribly afraid … afraid that
they cannot control or manipulate God, that God might love people they
don’t love, that God’s love is too all-embracing, and that we don’t
have to earn it. All we have to do is say we are sorry, and God throws
a big party.

That is frightening to some people. They seem to feel that they can’t
be happy in heaven unless hell is heavily populated. I don’t really
understand that.

Do you worry that an overemphasis on unconditional grace might lead to
giving license for the self-centered pursuit of personal comfort
without accountability?

Unconditional grace is not the same as permissiveness, though I think
it gets confused with that sometimes. We are creatures who sin. I
don’t think that makes God angry. On the contrary, I think that makes
God incredibly sad.

I think we hurt God by our sinning and by manipulating the idea of
unconditional grace into something that makes it easier for us to go
on sinning. Grace does not give us permission to be destructive
people. God’s grace ought to give us the courage to try to give
pleasure to God.


Click here to read the complete article
Re: 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytelling

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From: michael....@gmail.com (Michael F. Stemper)
Newsgroups: rec.arts.books.childrens,rec.arts.books,alt.books,alt.books.inklings,alt.religion.christian.episcopal,alt.religion.christianity
Subject: Re: 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of
storytelling
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 by: Michael F. Stemper - Sun, 29 Oct 2023 13:56 UTC

On 27/10/2023 22.19, Steve Hayes wrote:
> From the ENS Archives: ‘A Wrinkle in Time’ author Madeleine L’Engle on
> the power of storytelling
>
> Madeleine L’Engle, who wrote more than 60 books ranging from
> children’s stories to theological reflection, died Sept. 6, 2007, in
> Litchfield, Connecticut, at 88. She is shown here two years earlier.

> Source:
> <https://www.episcopalnewsservice.org/2018/03/13/from-the-ens-archives-wrinkle-in-time-author-madeleine-lengle-on-the-power-of-storytelling/>

Interesting article. Thanks for posting it.

--
Michael F. Stemper
I refuse to believe that a corporation is a person until Texas executes one.


arts / rec.arts.books / 'A Wrinkle in Time' author Madeleine L'Engle on the power of storytelling

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