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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  3,920 ratings  ·  352 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 Press (first published 1980)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Dale Harcombe
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 a ...more
Laura VanArendonk Baugh
Mar 11, 2010 Laura VanArendonk Baugh rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Laura VanArendonk 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
Rebecca
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.
Adrienna
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
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
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Poiema
Aug 31, 2014 Poiema rated it 4 of 5 stars
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 L'Eng ...more
Amberlee Bixler
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 a ...more
Kat Heckenbach
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
Jaci
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
Faith Hough
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
Laura
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
Susan
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
Rebecca
I reread this after reading it over 15 years ago as a first-year student in college. In fact, I reread the same copy and had a nice little dialogue with my naive-yet-earnest 17-year-old self who desperately wanted to understand faith, writing and the creative process, and who underlined far more passages about angels and Jesus than I thought possible.

My main assessment? L'engle's insights on the nature of the creative process hold up well and resonate with my faith identity even now, so much so
...more
Donna Miele
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 t ...more
Leslie
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 sh ...more
Teresa Shen
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
H. Anne Stoj
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 sai ...more
Cindy
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 yo ...more
Helena Sorensen
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.
E. J.
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
Carol
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
Erika RS
Even though I am not a religious person, the book still held a lot of wisdom. However, I was annoyed by the following two statements: "Atheism is a peculiar state of mind; you cannot deny the existence of that which does not exist. I cannot say, 'That chair is not there,' if there is no chair to say it about" and "To the non-believer, the person who sees no cosmos in chaos, we are all the victims of the darkness which surrounds our choices; we have lost our way; we do not know what is right and ...more
Ida Mercado
I learned that most forms of art is worship. Even if the artist doesn't realize it.

The creative act is an escape from the power of time and ascent to the divine...

-Madeleine L' Engle
Ashley Herring Blake
If you are a person of faith interested in creating--writing, music, painting, sculpting, any form of creation--this book will change the way you view not only your craft, but you God and the purpose of art in the world. L'Engle is a master as delving into our souls to see why and how we create.
Daniel
Outstanding book. The last third of the book was the best, IMHO, which addresses the inspiration of artists and contains numerous admonishments to persevere daily in our various endeavors as artists, musicians, and writers.
Catherine Gillespie
If you’re a Christian and an artist of any kind, especially if you’re a writer, you really and truly need to read Madeleine L’Engle’s Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art. The book is remarkable–thought-provoking and challenging in the very best ways.

L’Engle discusses what makes good art, what distinguishes Christian art from non-Christian (and isn’t afraid to say that bad art is bad religion no matter how many times you said something Jesus-y in it), the artist’s struggle with giving
...more
Ken Priebe
This book was recommended to me by a good friend and pastor many years ago, and I have referred to it again and again as a living, loving document for my own creative work and walk of faith.
Jane G Meyer
Oct 29, 2012 Jane G Meyer rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: for artists in general
I really should read this book regularly. L'Engle offers so many lovely words of inspiration and advice. I think I'll pop it on my to -read list, just to remind myself to float through it again.
Margaret Breidenbaugh
I have never thought about the relationship between art and faith in L'Engle's terms, and this book reaffirmed my need to listen to my own work as it speaks to me. An excellent read!
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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
More about Madeleine L'Engle...
A Wrinkle in Time (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #1) A Wind in the Door (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #2) A Swiftly Tilting Planet (A Wrinkle in Time Quintet, #3) Many Waters (Time Quintet, #4) A Ring of Endless Light (Austin Family, #5)

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“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” 245 likes
“But unless we are creators we are not fully alive. What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint of clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts, or having some kind of important career.” 216 likes
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