Book of the Week: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Last week, I didn't do a book of the week because I was focused on my fourth Refo500 entry, an overview of Luther's Smalcald Articles. So, "Book 9" will be Smalcald. This week, I'm returning to a childhood favorite in anticipation of the movie release. So, without further ado, I present to you . . .
Book 10: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
Genre: Fiction/Young Adult
When I first read this book as a child, I was largely immune to the religious themes of the book. I grew up reading "religious" YA like Frank Peretti and fiction with obvious religious themes like C. S. Lewis's Narnia series. So, when I first read Wrinkle—I think in 4th grade, in order to win a pan pizza from Pizza Hut (thanks, Book It!)—I don't think I realized how significant it was that L'Engle wrote with such overt theological themes. Nor did I really catch the depth of some of her theological tropes.
Everyone knows that the angels are angels. Before the book says as much, we catch glimpses of them singing praises, clearly quoting scripture. Less obvious to a 4th grader, perhaps, is the clear Christ figure that Charles Wallace represents, alluded to from the very beginning with comments about how he is like us but different, etc. His eventual giving himself over to IT becoming the means by which the rest escape Camazotz and eventually defeat the darkness itself.
An interesting feature in L'Engle's work is the rendering of hell (Camazotz) as a place of complete uniformity, where humans are surveilled 24/7 and expected to maintain uniform living conditions and activities. Is this a feature of mid-American fear of communism? a warning against big brother? or simply an imaginative rendering of what means to be "enslaved to sin"? I suspect it is the latter. Most Americans, perhaps mistaking it for the former, would at least grasp the loss of freedom imagined in L'Engle's rendering of the latter.
I'm very excited to see what Ava DuVernay does with the movie. If anybody can maintain the integrity of the story itself, I suspect it will be someone like DuVernay, that is, someone who is eager to give us a parable of our own struggle against sin and evil in this world.