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Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art

4.35  ·  Rating details ·  5,579 ratings  ·  554 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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4.35  · 
Rating details
 ·  5,579 ratings  ·  554 reviews


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Laura Baugh
Mar 05, 2010 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
K.M. Weiland
Jul 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is an intuitive artist’s dream. Incredibly beautiful, insightful, and inspiring. I listened to it on audio and before I was even halfway done, I ordered a hardcover so I could re-read it and underline it liberally.
Dale Harcombe
Jan 29, 2013 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 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
BookishStitcher
Nov 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much that I want to reread it till I have it memorized and it has been etched on my soul.

I almost can't even review this because it struck me on such a deep level that it feels too personal to talk about why this book impacted me the way it did. Struggles and doubts that I have had suddenly took on new light when she talked about her path. Basically, any review that I give this will be inadequate for how it made me feel.
Rebecca
Mar 05, 2013 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.
Schuyler
Jan 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Madeleine's book is full of food for inspiration, moments that resonate, and encouragement for Christian artists. Writing about Christian art was difficult for her. She found Christianity in art by Christians and by secular people, regardless of their faith. I think I would agree. Some songs both Christian and secular move me very deeply, books both Christian and classic resonate with my soul. That is simply because they are good and full of truth about the world.

This book is full of thoughts th
...more
D.M. Dutcher
May 09, 2013 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
Jenny
Feb 08, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-with-dad
The rating says it for me this time--it was okay. It was repetitive if you've read other books by L'Engle, and the points she makes about art and artists are interesting but not particularly enlightening. My favorite thing about the book is that I identified with a few passages as a writer. It was nice to say, "Someone else felt this way or went through this too."
Otherwise, I'm disappointed. Usually, L'Engle's books leave me with much more than this one did. My dad said, "It's Madeleine--it wasn
...more
Amy Neftzger
Jun 24, 2015 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 15, 2011 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
Feb 26, 2009 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 L'Eng ...more
Amberlee Bixler
Aug 02, 2011 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 a ...more
Kat Heckenbach
Apr 12, 2014 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 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
Jaci
Nov 17, 2009 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 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
Lauren
Sep 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A fascinating and thought provoking read. Even when I disagreed with her conclusions, like when she talks about gendered language, her questions and observations are usually on point and worth mulling over. This is a book designed to stretch the mind with thoughts on the creative process, what that has to do with faith, and a vocabulary that will knock you off your feet (proving her point on the dangers of a shallow vocabulary). I loved her thesis: bad art means bad religion. And I loved the ins ...more
Jocelyn Green
I found myself underlining and bracketing paragraphs, making notes in the margins in the first half of the book. As the book went on, I felt that, though there are nuggets of wisdom tucked into the pages, L'Engle's style leaned toward the meandering. She didn't ramble, it was just that the stories and anecdotes she used to illustrate her points tended to be on the lengthy side, and I felt it was a circuitous journey to her main point at times. I confess to skimming some later chapters, but it's ...more
Lmichelleb
This book was a slow simmer for me, and has nurtured and encouraged my soul, watering places I didn't even know we're thirsty. Ms. L'Engle insightfully asks the hard questions about who we are, why we must create, and how to submit to the work given us. Deep, life-giving words here, recommended to all, not just artistic types!
Susie Finkbeiner
I spend a lot of time thinking about how I arrived at writing novels for the Christian market. I contemplate often what it means to be a Christian and a writer and how those two parts of me collide. Walking on Water helped me process a lot of those wonderings. I'm inspired.
Ellen
Jul 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book made me cry. (Most things do these days, but still.) As someone who doesn't necessarily identify primarily as an artist, it was deeply relevant to me; one of the most profound yet simple unfoldings I've ever read of what it means to be a Christian in a dark, broken, confusing, and yet somehow still beautiful world. Vulnerability, doubt, pain - and joy & trust in our Father through it all.

Read it. You won't be sorry.

"I have to try, but I do not have to succeed. Following Christ has
...more
Rebecca
May 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Ron Vitale
Nov 17, 2015 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
Margaret
An excellent book to the very end. I really like how the author emphasis that an artist must do the work, to trust and let go of the need to control. This is a book that I would like to own and refer to often. So much I can relate to especially the difficulty of the work, the vulnerability of being a creative.
Sheila
Oct 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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 relig ...more
Jeff
Apr 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
No Christian artist could possibly fail to receive edification, enjoyment, and encouragement from this wise exploration of faith and the creative calling.

The writing itself, first of all, is of the highest order. Each word, each phrase, each sentence is positively musical, rippling with sonic resonance and semantic force. Yet there is no pretension; it's poetry in the guise of mere conversation. Here is a good writer.

A more rambling book you will seldom find. It is very nearly stream-of-consciou
...more
Leslie
Mar 05, 2008 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 sh ...more
H. Anne Stoj
Aug 14, 2008 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 sai ...more
Teresa Shen
Aug 05, 2009 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
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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
“I love, therefore I am vulnerable.” 285 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.” 278 likes
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