Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art (Wheaton Literary Series)

by Madeleine L'Engle

Hardcover, 2001




In this classic book, Madeleine L'Engle addresses the questions, What makes art Christian? What does it mean to be a Christian artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? Through L'Engle's beautiful and insightful essay, readers will find themselves called to what the author views as the prime tasks of an artist: to listen, to remain aware, and to respond to creation through one's own art.


WaterBrook (2001), Edition: 1, 256 pages

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(179 ratings; 4.4)

User reviews

LibraryThing member PCGator
Thought-provoking book. From the author of "A Wrinkle in Time", reflections on what it means to be a Christian artist. Not in the sense that "Christian art" is being made, but instead, how is faith involved when an artist who happens to be a Christian creates a work of art? When Bach composes a
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fugue, or when Michelangelo sculpts a masterpiece? Or, for a more contemporary example, think of U2, a band where at least some of the members considered not persuing a secular career lest it be contrary to their Christian faith. How would their lives and music have been different? Would Bono have had the impact, or been able to accomplish all that he has?
In addition to some great thoughts to contemplate, this book is a little gold mine of wonderful quotes on the arts.
"The author and the reader know each other; they meet on the bridge of words."
"Every work of art is the discovery of a new planet; and it may well be a hostile one."
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LibraryThing member SirRoger
Revelatory insights about the nature of art and how it relates to Faith. Madeleine L'Engle is so honest, she can't help but inspire.
LibraryThing member lilyfathersjoy
Madeleine L'Engle's faith and beliefs differ from mine. I was brought up, however, to not automatically reject ideas because they came from different viewpoints from mine. Besides, L'Engle's thoughtful consideration of concepts reveal her to be a seeker, not someone with all the answers. This book
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is useful for anyone who struggles for self-expression, no matter what the medium, no matter what they believe or don't believe. I have returned to this book again and again.
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LibraryThing member Al-G
To write, paint, compose music or poetry is a creative act - it is in fact an act of prayer whether the artist acknowledges the prayer or not, whether he is a person of faith or not. L'Engle writes from her own experiences as a writer and as a person of faith, specifically a Christian, and explores
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the relationship between the creative expressions of art and the nature of faith. It is as well written as her novels and gives artists especially plenty of food for thought about the relationship between art and faith.
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LibraryThing member Neftzger
This book is one of the best I've read for artists who also happen to have a strong religious faith. L'Engle approaches creativity as a natural response to being created in the image of The Creator. In fact, she explains that most children start out creative, but wander (or are trained) away from
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these activities. Unlike many Christian "artists" she defines the individual as an artist who happens to be Christian, rather than a Christian who is obligated to produce art as an evangelism tool. What I respected most was her assertion that art designed to evangelize tends to be come across as forced, and is often lower quality because of this.

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.
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LibraryThing member SueinCyprus
I loved this book! The author - best-known for her children's novel 'A Wrinkle in Time' - reflects on art, and her beliefs, and the writing process. It's just short snippets, gathered together in chapters, but I found some of them very thought-provoking.

Highly recommended for anyone who ever
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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.

When I'd finished it, I went back and re-read the first chapter. I'm sure I shall be dipping into this regularly in future.
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LibraryThing member SheilaDeeth
Madeleine L’Engle portrays Christian artists in the modern world almost as if we live in exile, like the Jews in Babylon. We learn to appreciate the art of the world around us and to care for its artists, whether or not they are believers. We learn to see the underlying hand of God in creation,
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and in the creations of his creatures. We accept that “bad art is bad religion” because it does not draw us closer to anything true, and that good art might be good religion even when not ostensibly religiously inspired.

The author leads readers on a guided tour of aesthetics (from Plato to Tolstoy and beyond), faith (which accepts that which cannot be understood because … and which, therefore, lies very close to story), icons (which express more than can be told), truth (and wisdom), and even the use of the word “he” rather than “he/she.” It’s all told in a gently conversational style, filled with threads of story and prayer, and reminder of a “God who told stories” in the New Testament.

We see glimpses of glory as children. Then we grow out of them. L’Engle reminds us that “We are all more than we know,” that fiction is the vehicle of truth, that we need intuition and symbols just as much as we need intellect, and that names are more important than the labels and boxes we place around everything—names give creativity, freedom and identity... and story.

Best of all, from my point of view, the author reminds readers that faith invites questions and should never fear them or else it's not quite faith. So I will write my questions in stories of “What if” and rejoice in having read this book.

Disclosure: I received a copy from Blogging for Books. I offer my honest review.
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LibraryThing member leandrod
Very interesting. Too bad she never states she was not orthodox at all.
LibraryThing member deeEhmm
There are a handful of writer's resources I go to when I get discouraged or feel stupid: Walking on Water, King's On Writing, and... Hm, maybe that's all. This book may be more Christian-centric than other resources. But L'Engle has an expansive and compassionate understanding of her religious
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foundation, as well as a rich cultural understanding of art, and I would encourage any writer to take a look at her ideas. She basically reminds us that writing serves something not entirely graspable by the conscious, rational mind; that it's hard work; and that humble service to a calling through hard work is all anyone should ever ask of herself. So relax, be grateful you even have a calling, and keep writing.
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LibraryThing member OHChristine
I liked the book and will most likely re-read it at some point. That said, the writing was a little loose. She seems to be the 180 degrees from Flannery O'Connor's vision of Catholic art and what it means to be a Catholic artist. Or, perhaps I completely misunderstood. Hence the need for a re-read
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in a few years.
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