A Swiftly Tilting Planet: The Need for a New Messiah.

"(Essay date 30 May 2008)In this essay JV will discuss the religious agenda of Madeleine L’Engle’s work by examining details that identify Charles Wallace as a Messiah."

It takes a lot of intellect to have faith, which is why so many people only have religiosity.... I'm against people taking the Bible absolutely literally, rather than letting some of it be real fantasy, like Jonah ... Faith is best expressed in story. - Madeleine L’Engle

This statement by L’Engle shows her unique view of religion and the ultimate acceptance of all by God. The need for faith is inherent in the human mind, so too is the need for a hero. The cry for a hero is as old as the bible itself with the first coming of Jesus. L’Engle uses her position as a writer to remind people that a hero is among us- whether it be the existing Jesus or some other Messiah up and coming. Throughout the "Time Quintet" (of which A Swiftly Tilting Planet is book 3) there are suggestions that Charles Wallace, the youngest boy in a family of four children, is the Messiah. "Charles Wallace, the ‘dumb baby brother,’ who had an uncanny way of knowing when she was awake and unhappy, and who would come, so many nights, tiptoeing up the attic stairs to her…"(5A Wrinkle in Time) It is in this first book that Meg (the oldest and only female child in the family) discovers the ability to "kyth" or communicate telepathically with Charles.

Charles Wallace appears now, not as the nearly silent young child as he did previously, but as a bright 15 year old maturing adult. The age may not seem to be of great importance to many, however is it in Chapter 15 of Matthew that Jesus lost a battle of whits with a pagan women and in return he saved her daughter from "the clutches of the devil" and accepted a whole new challenge. This challenge was to unify the world. L’Engle’s belief in universal salivation is apparent by this simple reference to the Scripture.

Charles Wallace’s physical appearance plays an important role in understanding the connection between himself and Jesus. "Charles Wallace was small for his fifteen years; [...] but the expression in his light blue eyes [...] was mature and highly intelligent." (10) while in any books there is an absence of a hair color for him, the description of him is reminiscent of a description of Jesus, "His look innocent and mature; His eyes grey, clear, and quick [...] , courteous and fair spoken; pleasant in conversation, mixed with gravity. [...] His hands and arms delicate [...]In speaking, very temperate, modest, and wise. A man, for His singular beauty, surpassing the children of men"1 One can easily see the correlation between the "small" Charles and the "delicate" Jesus. Both have eyes described as "mature" and "intelligent" or "quick" and while the colors aren’t exactly the same, one can easily acknowledge that L’Engle was most likely trying not to be too terribly obvious.

Like Jesus, Charles starts small. In the first book in this seris he is referred to as Meg’s savior but he is progressively gaining more followers throughout the seris. Even the fateful tempting of satan occurs beggining on page 196 and ending on page 200 with, "'I don't know who you are, but youre not Gaudior." (Gaudior was a unicorn guide helping Charles Wallce in his journey.) This descion that the being was not infact who they said they were, nor were they promising anything he was willing to take is representive of Jesus' journey through the desert. In this novel it is Charles Wallace that saves the entire world from nuclear threat by going back in time and changing "might have beens" so that the course of reality is altered in favor of Good, instead of evil. It is also Charles Wallace that "takes a walk" to the star gazing rock in order to right the situation, or search for answers. In essence he is sacrificing himself in order to alter the happenings of time and change the past to save the future and his "flock."

In the end of the novel, his flock comes to him in his hour of need. The famly gathers at the star gazing rock and recite what is mistakenly called a rune in order to invoke the powers of God to bring back Charles from the dead body he was within. This act of rising from a dead body is similar to the resurection of christ for obvious reasons. In the battle of good verses evil a self proclaimed "mutation" of the human being is the Savior and Messiah once again.
(JV 2008)

1The following was taken from a manuscript in the possession of Lord Kelly, and in his library, and was copied from an original letter of Publius Lentullus at Rome. It being the usual custom of Roman Governors to advertise the Senate and people of such material things as happened in their provinces in the days of Tiberius Caesar, Publius Lentullus, President of Judea, wrote the following epistle to the Senate concerning the Nazarene called Jesus.


A Wrinkle in Time: Danger of a Burning House

"To be an artist means to approach the light, and that means to let go our control, to allow our whole selves to placed with absolute faith in that which is greater than we are." -Madeleine L'Engle

(essay date 8 June 2008) In this essay JV will discuss a comment made by Mrs. Whatsit in connection with a Buddhist Scripture.

Madeleine L'Engle has a reputation among many christian communities as not being religious, and in other communities it is considered that she is pushing her religion on children who subconsciously absorb it within her novels. All that aside, it is obvious that L'Engle's view as a liberal christian who believes that all religions are one and universal salvation is present in her books. In the first book of her Time Quintet A Wrinkle in Time L'Engle even refrences ideas within Buddhist text to help establish a point.

The idea of evil is inherrant in each religion in its own forms. Whether we call it the Devil, IT, or Sin it is present in everyday life. In L'Engle's book IT is what she calls evil, and it is surrounding the world, taking over galaxies, and enforcing strict conformaty. Just as christians have the saying "the road to hell is paved with good intentions" Buddhists have a similar concept. Mrs. Whatsit states on page 81, "It has been there for a great many years. That is why your planet is such a troubled one." The idea that people are living in a world shrouded in evil, without even knowing it is paralelle to a description of evil in the Buddhist Lotus Sutra. The story tells of adults and children playing in a house that is going up in flames because they are unaware of the dagner present around them. It is here that Meg expirences the First Noble Truth. The existance of evil.

True to L'Engle's unique form, this is not the only buddhist refrence. While there are two interpurtations of the following comment, I tend to agree with the udea that it is a buddhist refrence as apposed to a bibilcle one, "It must be a very limiting thing, this seeing." (170) Buddhism comments often on the flase impressions that we percieve through vision. Once one meditates through these false visions they know what things are like and have achieved enlightenment. This is what Aunt Beast does instinctivly.

Once again the relgion bases for L'Engle's books was widely critcized for its liberal views, but this does not alter the fact taht through careful diction L'Engle manages to represent every religion one can think of in each of her books. The presence of Buddhism is not singularly in this book, nor is it the only concept present within this book. The points made above show clearly that Buddhism was in fact being refrenced.