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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Wheaton Literary Series) Hardcover – April 17, 2001
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Walking on Water collects 12 brief meditations by Madeleine L'Engle on the nature of art and its relation to faith. L'Engle, the beloved author of A Wrinkle In Time among others, has written and spoken widely and wisely about the connection between religion and art. The gist of her understanding is as follows:
To try to talk about art and about Christianity is for me one and the same thing, and it means attempting to share the meaning of my life, what gives it, for me, its tragedy and its glory. It is what makes me respond to the death of an apple tree, the birth of a puppy, northern lights shaking the sky, by writing stories.She believes that "[b]asically there can be no categories such as 'religious' art and 'secular' art because all true art is incarnational, and therefore 'religious.'" And "incarnation," in L'Engle's view, means "God's revelation of himself through particularity." In this book there is some slippage between L'Engle's autobiographical and critical voices. As a result, she often claims Christian significance for works whose meaning is not intentionally Christian. She admits this freely:
[B]ecause I am a struggling Christian, it's inevitable that I superimpose my awareness of all that happened in the life of Jesus upon what I'm reading, upon Buber, upon Plato, upon the Book of Daniel. But I'm not sure that's a bad thing. To be truly Christian means to see Christ everywhere, to know him as all in all.-- Michael Joseph Gross
“When I discovered Walking on Water years ago, my creative self underwent a sort of liberation. I had always sensed that there was a wonderful connection between spirituality and creativity, but Madeleine’s insights about both of those worlds helped me claim with more confidence my own creative gifts. This is a wise and inspiring book that should be in every artist’s library.”
–Vinita Hampton Wright, author of Grace at Bender Springs and Velma Still Cooks in Leeway
“Once again, L’Engle touches the deepest parts of our psyche and heart with her artist’s wand. She writes with an earthy rhythm that not only reveals the mysteries of our artistic natures, but also qualifies all along the way her inimitable wise-woman philosophies. L’Engle’ s writing is God’s gift to a generation who needs to sit on a stump and lend an ear to what the right brain is saying to the left and to what the soul is saying to the heart. Walking on Water guides the wandering artist back to the Savior and says ‘There, you’ve come home again where you belong!’”
–Patricia Hickman, award-winning author of Katrina’s Wings
“There are those who write about art-making as if they’ re detailing the techniques of a heart surgeon. Then there are those, like Madeleine L’Engle, who simply show you their heart. Like the words of Jesus to the fisherman brothers, the words of Madeleine are ‘follow me’ words. Through the pages of Walking on Water hungry, thirsty folks have been following for two decades–quickly recognizing that the reason Madeleine is worth following is that she follows Jesus.”
–Charlie Peacock-Ashworth, record producer and author of At the Crossroads: An Insider's Look at Contemporary Christian Music
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Top customer reviews
The book is also filled with some great concepts for helping the artist to reconnect or remain connected to creativity. I strongly recommend this to Christian artists of all genres: music, visual, literary, dance, etc. Well worth the read for those interested in becoming the person you were created to be, rather than the one that the Church tells you to be.
I like to think of this book as a "standard work" for artists, regardless of their chosen medium of expression. Like a book of scripture, I felt moved by the Spirit while reading most of it, attesting to the true principles contained in many of its pages. Well before I reached the end of the book, I could understand why it was suggested reading for any creative types feeling "blocked" in their efforts.
I've already given my first copy away and had to order another!
I've bought multiple copies and shared them with friends. Those who've read it, we're surprised and pleased by what they found.