Customer Reviews: The Irrational Season (The Crosswicks Journal, Book 3)
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on July 8, 2000
To gain a sense of the various stages of L'Engle's life, read the Crosswicks Journals in order of publication. In The Irrational Season, Book 3, L'Engle does not give any easy spiritual answers, yet somehow a sense of comfort prevails throughout the pages. Never preachy, this is a book to savor again and again. We share L'Engle's struggle as she grapples with age-old questions. One is awed by the grace with which this woman deals with conflict, both internal and external, even as she is sharing her deepest doubts. As we read, we become a part of L'Engle's spiritual quest and we make it our own.
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on May 17, 1999
I have been a fan of Madeleine L'Engle since I discovered A Wrinkle in Time in the 5th grade. As an adult, I have come to appreciate her non-fiction and adult novels. Irrational Season is probably the best of her non-fiction. The story follows the litergical year and in keeping with the seasons and holidays takes the reader through pain and joy while always maintaining hope. This is an excellent book for anyone who has sometimes felt overwhelmed and questioned their faith only to find that their questioning makes them stronger.
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on August 3, 1999
This book is a must-read for anyone who wants to reconcile their belief in God with their intellect. Lyrical and moving (I cried several times), The Irrational Season can be read on its own, or as part of the four-book series.
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VINE VOICEon August 4, 2011
I always find it sad (although somewhat amusing) that many children's authors are treated as if they were inferior writers, looked down upon by those "serious" authors. Madeleine L'Engle is best known for her children's books, and her adult novels and non-fiction are not very well known, but L'Engle knew enough to recognize that it is children who are open to the wonders of the world and can accept incomprehensible logic without requiring proof. Perhaps this is why Jesus insisted on having faith like a child because that is when we understand and accept more easily and openly. And this is part of the journey L'Engle examines in "The Irrational Season," the third of her Crosswicks Journals series.

This third diary follows L'Engle throughout the liturgical year as she examines her life, past and present, and her faith, matching chapters up with different events on the church calendar, beginning and ending with Advent. L'Engle was always a gifted writer, and fans of hers will appreciate the candor and openness with which she laid herself bare in this work. She openly explores her struggles with faith and occasional bouts of atheism (likened to catching the flu at one point, an apt description), but also how she was always able to come back to the truth of her faith. It is an honest and unflinching look at the struggles of maintaining not only a Christian faith but also a Christian attitude in an ever-changing (mostly for the worse) world. L'Engle combines her thoughts on faith with her thoughts about writing, language, family, music, art, friendship, and much more. It is, perhaps, her most intimate work, and one for which fans of hers or anyone who struggles with similar questions will be thankful for.

"The Irrational Season" is a moving portrait of a very human woman who daily struggles to understand her life and her faith in light of a fallen world. L'Engle combines her diary-like entries with her poetry, much of which reflects biblical characters who most likely struggled with similar issues. It is an intimate, powerful, uplifting, and challenging read that is well worth the journey.
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on May 31, 2013
This book follows the church calendar as a format for musings and self discovery. I deeply admire Mrs. L'Engle's genuineness in her writing. She is fully open about her committed relationship with God that none-the-less leaves her pondering many questions about the church, churchianity, and Christianity. This is a book to read slowly in bits and ponder. It is not a novel and while not difficult to read or understand is most definitely not light reading. How she manages to address such things while never once being preachy is a puzzler, but she does. I can't recommend it enough.
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on October 12, 2008
I've enjoyed many of Madeleine L'engle's books, this among the best. I was a bit surprised that I liked this one, since L'Engle turns the old rule about autobiographies -- bag limit of one -- on its head, writing yet again about her "non-eventful" life: kindness, love of animals, imagination and scientific curiosity, honest, hard-thought Christian humanism.

Other reviewers have mentioned other things they liked about the book; let me say something about the poems. The first almost scared me off: poems are sometimes a good writer's self-indulgence. (I skip most the poems in Tolkien.) But here they are jewels in the crown. Her poem of the wind and the star (p. 165-6) is magnificent. Unsentimental but hopeful, too, the gritty realism (reminiscent of the biblical Christmas narratives) of the communion poem that begins:

"Come, let us gather round the table.
Light the candles. Steward, pour the wine.
It's dark outside. The streets are noisy
with the scurrying of rats, with shoddy
tarts, shills, thugs, harsh shouting."

This is a diary of a different sort. I read it in the evening, a few pages at a time, a few moments conversation with a kind Christian lady of intellectual integrity to end the day.
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on January 8, 2016
I cannot abide bouillon in a mug, but I’m always a little sorry about that when I read the opening pages of Madeleine L’Engle’s The Irrational Season. She sips from her warm cup, gazes out her two a.m. window at the Hudson River, and begins an Advent reflection that meanders through the liturgical year and the seasons of her life, ending up at her country farmhouse just in time for the Michaelmas daisies.

Although she passed away in 2007 and the four volumes of The Crosswicks Journal series (The Irrational Season is number three) were published in the 1970’s, Madeleine’s musings are timeless. I find myself needing to reread them every so often just to be reminded that there are juicy words like anamnesis and eschaton and pusillanimous and that one could refer to a houseful of neighborhood kids as a “charm of children.” I turn and return to Madeleine L’Engle because her thoughts remind me that there is a Truth that can be expressed in poetry as well as in memoir and that manages to be both orthodox and startling.

On the subject of God — the Creator of a world that now includes “battlefields and slums and insane asylums” — Madeleine expresses both puzzlement and awe. “Why does God treat in such a peculiar way the creatures He loves so much that He sent His own Son to them?” Even so, she affirms that a “no” from God is often a prelude to a better “yes,” and that the “only God who seems to be worth believing in is impossible for mortal man to understand.”

Perhaps, as a story teller herself, she realized that her own life was His to plot.

On marriage and parenting, Madeleine was a delightful mixture of progressive and traditional thought: “A marriage is something which has to be created. When we were married, Hugh and I became a new entity, he as much as I.” She was a militant advocate for breastfeeding in an era in which it was considered backward, while at the same time setting boundaries in her home that protected her ability to continue with her writing.

Her faith was subject to “attacks of atheism,” but she also maintained that “anger [at God] is an affirmation of faith. You cannot get angry at someone who is not there.” Her writing informed her theology, and her theology informed her writing to the point where she gave her stories credit for “converting” her “back to Christianity.” Her portrayals of the incarnation are both homely and profound, exulting in the Word made flesh with each of her newborn babies and the touch of her husband’s warm foot under the blankets.

Madeleine L’Engle was at her best when she was describing the writing process and the relationship between a writer and her work. She attributed her success as a writer to her suffering and her unusual childhood, saying that her “best writing has been born of pain.” She saw little difference between praying and writing, and humbly attempted “to listen to the book” as she listened in prayer. Her advice to aspiring writers came from her own standard practice: “I read as much as possible, write every day, keep my vocabulary alive and changing, so that I will have an instrument on which to play the book if it does me the honor of coming to me and asking to be written.”

The Irrational Season is only one of the fifty books that came to Madeleine asking to be served.
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on October 1, 2015
She was a wonderful person but this book lives in the 1970s.
It address issues of the 1970s but not of the current era and things have changed. God may be eternal but these thoughts are not.
I have never enjoyed her poetry but did find a gem here and there. Not enough to give this another star.
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on February 10, 2012
One of my favorite reads about the church seasons. You get all this talented author's talent plus her personal experiences. Add the poetry and it is very special. I read this book soon after it was first published and have found myself going back over the years to read it. Sometimes it was a poem I remembered and wanted to read, sometimes a story, sometimes just a section on a church season. When my first copy finally fell apart from use, I ordered another....I'm sure it will get just as many readings.
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on July 15, 2016
I gave this book to my niece as she used several of the quotes in her wedding vows last month. I am a retired teacher and read The Secret Garden every year to my students so I loved reading a different genre written by Madeleine L'Engle.
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