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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

4.33  ·  Rating Details ·  4,586 Ratings  ·  409 Reviews
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 cr ...more
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published April 17th 2001 by WaterBrook (first published 1980)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Laura Baugh
Mar 11, 2010 Laura Baugh rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Laura by: Kelly Baugh
This book was recommended to me and I ordered it from the library promptly; I'd liked reading Madeleine L'Engle, and I've often discoursed on the relation of faith and art.

I was a bit disconcerted when the book arrived, however; it was a smaller volume than I'd expected, and when I started reading, it seemed rambling, disorganized, and not terribly helpful. Had I found the low point of L'Engle's work?

As a writer and a Christian, I have of course been challenged -- internally and externally -- by
...more
Dale Harcombe
Nov 24, 2014 Dale Harcombe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reading
I remember the first time I read Walking on Water, Reflections on Faith and Art. It was an eye-opener for me – and a book I became completely absorbed in. Since then it has been read numerous times. It is one book of mine that has multiple paragraphs and sentences highlighted or underlined as well as pages turned down at the corners. Yes that’s shocking I know to some people but that‘s what I do when a book is a useful tool. This book certainly was for me.

Some of the pages are so highlighted, i
...more
Anna
Aug 05, 2011 Anna added it
Trying to encompass all my thoughts and feelings about this book would take...well, a book. Or some approximation thereof. This is my second time reading it and I find that once again it reaches and touches me on so many levels. I find joy here, and inspiration; the book *makes* me want to write. It gives me fuel, or refuels me, if you will. I am reminded of the adventures that unfold in both life and art when we take the time to simply *listen* to the story, to the vision, the photograph, the ...more
Rebecca
Mar 27, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
It is not a perfect book and I certainly don't agree with everything but oh it is wonderful. Such insight and presence and goodness. Thank you L'Engle for this book. My mind and heart are larger for reading it. My ears more open. Familiarity to some of her fiction will help but is not mandatory, however regardless if you read this you should read Wrinkle simply because it is A Wrinkle in Time and that book in itself is close to the heart of life and God.
Amy Neftzger
Jul 17, 2015 Amy Neftzger rated it it was amazing
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 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 ...more
Faith Hough
Jul 19, 2011 Faith Hough rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Madeleine L'Engle was not only a brilliant story teller, she was a humble, beautiful and insightful woman who, in this book, wrote many of the wisest words I have ever read--about being a writer, and artist, a woman...a human being and child of God.
I couldn't stop quoting passages to my husband, family--okay, anyone who would listen--but this was a book that was best read slowly, page by page, with time for reflection. (So the constant pausing to quote ended up being a benefit for me!) It is cer
...more
Poiema
Aug 31, 2014 Poiema rated it really liked it
Shelves: art
I've read at least one book by Madeleine L'Engle every decade of my life, starting with _A Wrinkle in Time_ when I was a child. Madeleine's theology does not always match my own, but I deeply respect her thoughtfulness and depth. This book is about the arts. I love that Madeleine does not encourage Christians to stay with "safe" art (Thomas Kinkade comes to mind). Truth can be captured by some very unlikely artists and humanity is the richer for it. Come to think of it, I believe Madeleine ...more
Amberlee Bixler
Aug 02, 2011 Amberlee Bixler rated it it was amazing
Is there a 5 star plus I can offer for a review? I ask, because this is the one book to warrant it. Ms. L'Engle beautifully presents several arguments for re-uniting the theological with the artistic, and how an artist (writer, performer, dancer, etc.) can not only bridge the gap between the two, but also clearly defines the reasons why one must. The quotes and arguments are simply stated, and honestly reasoned. This is the book I read when I question whether the pain is worth the thunder, and ...more
Kat Heckenbach
Nov 17, 2015 Kat Heckenbach rated it really liked it
A friend, who is an artist and Christian, loaned me her copy of this book because she though I would enjoy it. Less than halfway through, I gave it back--because I'd bought my own copy.

I have always been a huge Madeleine L'Engle fan. A Wrinkle in Time was one of the first books I remember reading as a kid, one of the first books I truly loved. One of the first books that drove into me the love of science fiction and fantasy. Of course, I was afraid that might make me biased about this book.

So, I
...more
Adrienna
Apr 17, 2011 Adrienna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This author had many valid points and able to reflect on Christianity and art. I loved some of the statements in the book as an artists/creativity with writing.

"If a reader cannot create a book along with the writer, the book will never come to life. He must become a creator, imagining the setting of the story, visualizing the characters, seeing facial expressions, hearing the inflection of voices. The author and the reader "know" each other; they meet on the bridge of words (L'Engle, Madeline,
...more
D.M. Dutcher
May 09, 2013 D.M. Dutcher rated it it was ok
This book is like listening to your erudite upper-class grandmother wax poetic about faith in relatively bland, indefinite terms while she sips chamomile tea on a rattan chair in an immaculately kept garden. This means some of you absolutely will love this book, and others will squirm and fidget because they hate tea. I'm the latter.

It isn't a bad book by any means, and it's good to see L'Engle engage faith, albeit elliptically. It's more about intuition and sentiment than a hard look at the Chr
...more
Jaci
Nov 17, 2009 Jaci rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Madeleine L'Engle writes about her art and the art of being a "Christian" writer. I took my 4th-8th grade students to hear her speak in 1988 (St. Andrews Episcopal School) and have been a life-long fan. She was forceful, opinionated, not patient with these kids and absolutely compelling.
It was interesting to read that she kept working notebooks of quotes from authors, words, ideas, etc., and revisted them frequently. She also rewrote her books and believed that discipline was a large part of the
...more
Laura
Aug 10, 2009 Laura rated it it was amazing
The pleasure of this book is not just L'Engle's style, which is warm and inviting. The ideas here are big. In the past, creativity may have been easily dismissed, or thought of as something I do when I have time. This book challenges me and this notion. This book, along with "Imagine: A Vision for Christians in the Arts", answers many of the questions and struggles that I have had as an 'artist' who became a Christian.

This book is *double bonus awesome* if, besides being a writer, you are a wom
...more
Leslie
Sep 02, 2011 Leslie rated it it was amazing
This is a book I come back to over and over since I first read it. I think it's a must-read for everyone, whether you consider yourself and "artist" or not. Madeliene L'Engle (who I've read and loved so much now that I feel like she's a friend, I want to meet her in heaven) has a beautifully rambly, conversational approach in this book, and because of it so much of who she is surfaces. It's like you just followed her around for a week and experienced her life and thoughts, and the truths that ...more
H. Anne Stoj
Oct 01, 2009 H. Anne Stoj rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
I'm not big on reading books on writing (particularly on how to write, which this isn't). Reading books about faith is always a little hard as it was something I did when I was younger and little insane. A friend recommended this to me years ago now and it (much like Mere Christianity which I still haven't finished) took me probably a year to read as I would pick it up and put it down and pick it up again. I wish that I'd read this when I was younger and belonged to a church that pretty much ...more
Teresa Shen
Aug 05, 2009 Teresa Shen rated it really liked it
This book changed the way I view myself as a writer, and strengthened my commitment to the practice of art. In this book, L'Engle offers meditations on what it takes to create art. Unlike other writing advice books, she focuses on some of the more spiritual aspects of leading a writing life.

There are three things that really stood out to me. First, she talks about writing as obedience and about being a servant to the art. She believes all great works of art are divinely inspired, and it is our
...more
Carol
May 26, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing
I purchased this book several years ago after reading several of her Crosswicks books. It ended up on a shelf of "to reads" and stayed there. Then one day, during a particularly difficult time, I was dusting and it fell from the shelf. It was time to open myself to the brilliance, faith, imagination, and experience of this remarkable woman.

I read this small, beautifully printed volume, in small bites. There is too much to consider here for me to have read it quickly. It is divided in short essa
...more
Kevin Lucia
Jan 03, 2016 Kevin Lucia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First of all, this is one of those books I feel like re-reading now, simply because it seems like I didn't get all I probably should've the first time through. It was wonderful examination on the intersection of art and faith, specifically Christianity. For those of different denominations, L'Engle - much like C. S. Lewis - doesn't restrict her discussion to preferential views of art different denominations have. Instead, she looks at the big picture - how art should look like from a Christian, ...more
Cindy
Oct 30, 2012 Cindy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, finished
Wordless, Wonderment, and Wisdom beyond imagination; Madeleine shows herself truly humbled and artistic in this book of faith and art. There are many quotes and highlights in this book that have searched me and known me. There are many stories and insights to help anyone with the gift of Art expressions. Madeleine is not only creative in her insights and works of fiction but she is also able to extend that information with clarity to her students in the arts. It is said, to truly know the art ...more
Donna Miele
Sep 16, 2014 Donna Miele rated it it was amazing
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 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 ...more
Jamie Wiggins
Oct 09, 2015 Jamie Wiggins rated it it was amazing
Walking on Water is a book that I will return to for the rest of my life. Madeleine L'Engle has filled this work of non-fiction (most of it straight from her personal journals) with a mass amount of wisdom and truth. Her perspective is such a refreshing thing to experience, and I found myself underlining line after line of profound ideas, quotes, references, and truths. I have struggled to understand, especially recently, what it means to be a Christian, and this work perfectly expresses the ...more
Garrett Cash
Anyone who's the slightest bit interested in both God and art (which I believe is a good many folk) should read this brilliant work. I wasn't a huge fan of A Wrinkle In Time, but Walking On Water is essential. You could chew on this one for decades. I would place this book up there with Flannery O'Connor's Mystery and Manners as one of the best works concerning the art of God.
"As I listen to the silence, I learn that my feelings about art and my feelings about the Creator of the Universe are in
...more
Rachel Dawson
I read L'Engle's fiction as a kid, but have been wanting to get my hands on some of her non-fiction books for a while. This was a used bookstore find and had been on my shelf waiting for me, and my crazy "buy no books in 2016" challenge prompted me to finally dive in! I loved this one-- any book about the intersections of faith and art in our lives is one that will surely grab me. Her writing is just lovely and many of her thoughts are still sticking with me, which is a true sign of a great ...more
Laura
Aug 01, 2015 Laura rated it it was amazing
This book is Madelein L'Engle's thoughts on what it means to be a Christian artist. But I think anyone interested in faith would enjoy it. She writes specifically to Christian artists (authors, composers, painters...). I am not a professional artist. Though, at times she really made me wish I was. But, her writings have been so influential in my life that it was easy for me to find inspiration from this book as well. She made me feel that even as a mom, a part-time number cruncher, an arm-chair ...more
E.J. Weaver
Sep 16, 2012 E.J. Weaver rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: faith, art-culture
This book helped my faith survive high school. L'Engle was the first author I read who left any room for mystery, and who showed me that art and faith could work together easily instead of battling each other.

This book will *not* be to everyone's taste. It is, as the subtitle indicates, a set of reflections: not arguments, debates, or systematic thoughts. Take it for what it is.

One note: do not buy this edition if you can avoid it. The binding comes apart during the first reading. Sad, because
...more
Susan
Jun 27, 2009 Susan rated it liked it
Although this book is somewhat dated, I liked many of L'Engle's main points about the connection between art and religion, and the artist as creator. I particularly liked the chapter"Icons of the True" in which she discusses what we have lost by updating the language of the book of common prayer and the Bible. Although I didn't agree with everything she advocates in Walking on Water, and although at times the book is repetitive, there is a lot to think about here. If you are interested in either ...more
Helena Sorensen
Sep 24, 2014 Helena Sorensen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I copied half of it into my journal. Fabulous. Brim-full of wisdom and insight. But somehow L'Engle does it all without sounding bored or pretentious or lofty. It's so open, so childlike. It makes me want to read every word she's ever written.
I also wonder how many of these ideas have become so much a part of our creative culture that we don't even realize from whence they came.
Molly Miltenberger
Jun 06, 2016 Molly Miltenberger rated it really liked it
Shelves: creativity
I'll be referencing this again and again.
Ron Vitale
Nov 17, 2015 Ron Vitale rated it really liked it
I finished reading Walking on Water a few days after the 11/13/15 Paris attacks and to have the premise of the book juxtaposed against the backdrop of the horror in the world helped me to be more introspective. I haven't read Madeleine L'Engle's "A Wrinkle in Time" in more than 30 years and, to be honest, what I remember is mere impressions. I remember that I liked it and that there was a calmness and creative spark about her work of fiction that comforted me and pulled me in.

Reading L'Engle's
...more
Carin
When I first received this book, I was a bit put off by its size. I foolishly thought a book that that dealt with such a complex subject would have to be bigger. As it happens, this thin book packs quite the punch and has something noteworthy on every page. It will be added to my list of books to reread regularly.

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Madeleine L'Engle was an American writer best known for her Young Adult fiction, particularly the Newbery Medal-winning A Wrinkle in Time and its sequels A Wind in the Door, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, and Many Waters. Her works reflect her strong interest in modern science: tesseracts, for example, are featured prominently in A Wrinkle in Time, mitochondrial DNA in A Wind in the Door, organ regener ...more
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“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” 263 likes
“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there's no danger that we will confuse God's work with our own, or God's glory with our own.” 248 likes
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