Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

by Madeleine L'Engle
4.4 9


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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780865474871
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 05/28/1995
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 208
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.31(h) x 0.58(d)

About the Author

Madeleine L'Engle was the author of more than forty-five books for all ages, among them the beloved A Wrinkle in Time, awarded the Newbery Medal; A Ring of Endless Light, a Newbery Honor Book; A Swiftly Tilting Planet, winner of the American Book Award; and the Austin family series of which Troubling a Star is the fifth book. L'Engle was named the 1998 recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards award, honoring her lifetime contribution in writing for teens.

Ms. L'Engle was born in 1918 in New York City. She wrote her first book, The Small Rain, while touring with Eva Le Gallienne in Uncle Harry. She met Hugh Franklin, to whom she was married until his death in 1986, while they were rehearsing The Cherry Orchard, and they were married on tour during a run of The Joyous Season, starring Ethel Barrymore.

Ms. L'Engle retired from the stage after her marriage, and the Franklins moved to northwest Connecticut and opened a general store. After a decade in Connecticut, the family returned to New York.

After splitting her time between New York City and Connecticut and acting as the librarian and writer-in-residence at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Madeleine L’Engle died on September 7, 2007 at the age of 88.

Date of Birth:

January 12, 1918

Date of Death:

September 6, 2007

Place of Birth:

New York, NY

Place of Death:

Litchfield, CT


Smith College, 1941

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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I discovered this book at a time in my life when I was struggling with both my creativity and my faith. The author offers fresh and unusual perspectives on both issues - combined and seperately. After reading this book, I believe that creativity is an expression of the spirit within us and that the act of creating is an act of faith. Not only did this book change my approach to and my view of any creative work, it also renewed my faith in miracles.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book entered my life at a time when I needed to decide if I should be a writer or quit talking about it. I met here a woman who understands what art really is and what it takes to be an artist. Madeleine L'Engle is a Christian, and she has written books children love, but she refuses to classify herself as a Christian writer of children's books, for the same reason that she would not classify Picasso as an atheist painter of adult images. Madeleine L'Engle believes that all the wonderful art we encounter, be it visual, aural or any other form, is inspired by God, and that God can speak to us all through great art, no matter what the artist may have believed about God when creating the work. For me, her statement that 'the story is truth' was particularly important. But after reading the book, I think she would equally say 'the music is truth' or 'the picture is truth' when it has emerged from the soul of the artist. This is not a theological book, but it has certainly enlightened my personal theology, as well as the way I experience art of all kinds. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand what art is, and even more, I recommend it to any artist who is struggling through an unproductive dark night of self-doubt.
bjdoureaux More than 1 year ago
What does it mean to be a Christian artist? What is the relationship between faith and art? These are the questions that bestselling author Madeleine L'Engle sets out to answer in Walking on Water. Through stories from her own life, and quotes from philosophers, theologians, and other writers, she addresses the concept of Christian art. I read through this book with lots of both encouragement and disappointment. I found that while I strongly agreed with L'Engle in terms of theology, there were many points where I questioned her thoughts on how faith relates to art. What you will quickly realize is L'Engle doesn't like the label "Christian art." Her claim is that God can work through even an atheist artist to convey a message. While I believe this is true (God can use whomever He chooses), I don't think it's a good reason to shun the label. L'Engle also uses the argument that all good art is Christian art (or at the very least religious) in the sense that we create it. But I disagree with this argument as well, because what constitutes "good" art is subjective at best. If art is Christian based on how it makes a person feel, or what they "get out of it", then what does that say about Christianity in and of itself? I would have closed the book at several points early on had L'Engle not shared her own views of Christian theology. She discusses justification by faith, unmerited grace, the fact that we bring nothing to our salvation, and much more. There is no doubt that L'Engle is a Christian, and yet, the way she connects faith to art, at times, seems to be more new-age, or mystical. She skates around the issue of defining Christian art with stories and examples, but I believe her truest statement on the subject comes halfway though the book. When asked by a student how she should go about becoming a Christian writer, L'Engle told her: "... if she is truly and deeply a Christian, what she writes is going to be Christian, whether she mentions Jesus or not. And if she is not, in the most profound sense, Christian, then what she writes is not going to be Christian, no matter how many times she invokes the name of the Lord." This is what I believe she is trying to say through the entire book, but it somehow gets muddled in the details. I received a complimentary copy of this book from Blogging for Books in return for an honest review.
SheilaDeeth More than 1 year ago
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, 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.
tammy2lock More than 1 year ago
I wish I could take a highlighter to the entire book.  As an artist I think this is an essential read.  Be challenged to re-awaken the child-like creativity in your soul.
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Linda_V More than 1 year ago
Walking on Water is a great book for those who are creative and who may be struggling with be productive. The author reminds us of our creative talents and how we have been gifted with the ability to write, draw, or paint. It awakens the reason many of us put pen to paper or paint to canvas.