Book Review: A Wrinkle in Time

August 13, 2013 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Books and Movies | 2 Comments

My family has just finished reading together Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time.  It was a fun and clean family read that everyone enjoyed.  I’d seen the title listed by at least two other families as a favorite read together book, so we gave it a try.  It was a tale of adventure and of good versus evil.  We had a lot of fun reading it and hope to read more of the books in the series.

Because it is considered a classic by many, because it is seen on some of these Christian family read together lists, and because it contains so many references to and quotes of the Bible, some people might think that A Wrinkle in Time is a Christian book.   However there are some elements of the story that, though respectful of the Christian scriptures, are distinctively non-christian, and it’s those I want to consider here.  This is not intended to dissuade anyone from reading good literature; it is intended to make those who want to read it aware of the subtle differences between the popular religion expressed and genuine Christian truth.

In the book three children, Meg, her little brother genius Charles Wallace, and their friend Calvin meet up with three strange ladies who send them on an adventure traveling through time and space to find Meg and Charles’ father who has been missing for a long time.

I began to wonder if the strange ladies, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which, were supposed to somehow represent the Trinity.  Whatsit, the leader of the three, as the Father, Who as the Son, and Which as the Holy Spirit; in two cases it was easy to see the resemblance, but Mrs. Who seemed to have no connection to the Son whatsoever.  (The thought that these ladies might represent the Trinity sent my mind back to The Shack, where the Father is represented by a lady!)  However, in this book, no such connection can be made.  When Calvin begins to bow to Mrs. Whatsit, she clearly tells him, “No.  Not to me, Calvin.  Never to me.”  And later when the children are trying to describe these ladies to creatures from another world, Calvin (again) recognizes what they are and calls them angels — messengers from God, and not God himself.

At one point, when the children realize their battle is going to be harder than they first thought and is against a terrible darkness, the three ladies tell the children that there have been great fighters of darkness from our world.  They remind the children of the Apostle John’s words, “The light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.”  Calvin notes Jesus as a great fighter of darkness, but then other historical figures are listed as well.  There is no recognition of Jesus as the victor over darkness, the creator of light and the sovereign of the universe; there is only a recognition that he, along with many others, has fought the battle against darkness.  That kind of Jesus is a popular religion Jesus and not the Jesus of genuine Christianity.  In fact the John quote, from the King James Bible, misses part of the meaning.  That’s why many translations end the phrase not as “the darkness could not comprehend the light,” but as “the darkness could not overcome the light.”  Darkness cannot overpower Jesus.   He is not only a fighter of darkness; he is the Sovereign Lord who has overcome darkness.

Finally, the book seems to teach that the love we have for each other can conquer the worst of evil.   That simply is not true.  The One who defeats evil is Jesus.  Our love for each other, if it is genuine love, is only an extension of Jesus’ love for his people whom he bought when he conquered darkness on the cross.  Love may cover a multitude of sin, but genuine love is rooted in God’s love.  Our self-generated love, no matter how strong, cannot overcome evil without God’s help.  Genuine Christianity teaches that there is nothing good in us apart from Jesus.

A Wrinkle in Time is clean, fun and worth the time to read.  But don’t ever think of it as a Christian book.  If you want to read it as a family, please do.  But discuss these matters as you do.  Feel free to use the material in this post as fodder for great family discussion.

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2 Comments »

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  1. I can still remember the first time I read that book. I was in the fourth grade. The teacher read it out loud to us. I really liked it I was too young to make any kind of observations like those you have shared here. I read it again when I was a little older.

    Then I read it once more while I was home schooling my son. We also read the other three books in that series. I remember that it was 1998, and my son was only ten, I was reading aloud from “Many Waters”, and didn’t get far before I realized it was too provocative. I was so embarrassed….so glad I read ahead silently, and caught where it was heading. it would have been rated “R” if it had been a movie due to adult themes.

    I completely agree with you evaluation. It is an exciting classic to read, but I would classify Madeline L’Engle’s philosophy as “new age”.

    Theresa

  2. Theresa,
    Thanks again for your great comments. I appreciate the warning, as we too were considering reading the series together. Though my daughter is older than ten, we still want to avoid the “R rated” material. Hope all is well with you and your family. Blessings in Jesus,
    GG


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