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A Wrinkle in Time
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Overcoming LOST's Black Smoke

Book: A Wrinkle in Time -  First published 1962A Wrinkle in Time

Author: Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007)

Connection with ABC-TV’s LOST:  The official LOST website links the book to episode 116 (Outlaws), where Sawyer reads the book on the beach. The themes of time travel and faith are common to the book and the show, and the monstrous “black smoke” in the show is reminiscent of “The Black Thing” in the book.

Review of the Book

A Wrinkle in Time was so controversial when it was completed in 1960 that it was rejected by over twenty publishers before it was published in 1962. Her belief in Christian Universalism resulted in her works being banned from certain Christian bookstores and schools. However, A Wrinkle in Time became Madeleine L’Engle’s most recognized and awarded work, and is the first of a series in her Time Quintet. I do not agree with her Universalism, but found the book profitable nonetheless.

The story is an interesting combination of faith and science. Meg Murry, the protagonist of the book, is the daughter of two scientists. Her father has disappeared while working on a secret project for the government, and her mother stoically manages her own private laboratory in her home while raising the four children.

The adventure begins when Meg’s five-year-old brother Charles, who seems to have a sixth sense about things, introduces her to the three Mrs. W’s–Mrs. Which, Mrs. Whatsit and Mrs. Who (who turn out to be some kind of angelic beings). Together with their neighbor Calvin, who has similar insights as her brother, they make a journey to rescue her father by means of a tesseract–a wrinkle in time.

L’Engle quotes scripture in various scenes throughout the book, but the spiritual themes are deeper than mere Bible recitation. We learn that Meg’s mother understands that there are things that are true whether we can understand them or not.  After they first encounter Mrs. Whatsit, she tells Meg “one thing I’ve learned is that you don’t have to understand things for them to be.” Later she tells her “I think with our human limitations we’re not always able to understand the explanations. … just because we don’t understand doesn’t mean that the explanation doesn’t exist.”

Science does not have all the answers, and it is certainly not unscientific to admit we do not understand everything. Science can have a tendency to rush into things before it is aware of its limitations. Meg’s father finds this out when he discovers he does not have much control when he tesseracts. The three Mrs. W’s have to intervene to bring him back. Sometimes it is better to leave some things to the spiritual realm.

But there are things that we can do. The children find out that the universe is under attack by “The Black Thing”–a representation of pure evil–and that they must help fight against it. They must resist IT–a disembodied brain that seeks to control everyone. More importantly, they find out that the power of love is the only way to save anyone under ITs influence. People are not saved by force, but by the power of God’s love, and the love of His people.

On planet Camazotz (I take it this is a play on words with “Camelot.”)  conformity keeps things in order. Everyone follows the rhythm of IT to such an extreme that every aspect of life is controlled. Children playing bounce balls in their yard in exactly the same rhythm and go indoors at exactly the same time. When Meg quotes the Declaration of Independence, IT tries to tell her that the ideal of everyone being equal has been realized on Camazotz. She is almost persuaded, but then realizes that “like” and “equal” are two different things.

How pertinent to today where society tries to make everyone “politically correct.” Scripture says “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”[Romans 12:2 NKJV] The method of this world is conformity through outward pressure. God’s method is transformation from the inside out. Conformity causes us to lose our personal identity. Transformation frees us to be what we were meant to be.

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