What makes "A Wrinkle in Time" Christian?

Conservative Christians have been attacking the book “A Wrinkle in Time” for years, making it one of the most banned/challenged books of all time. (Author Madeleine L’Engle was a committed Christian and found this puzzling, to say the least.) Now the film version is being attacked by conservative Christians, and negative reviews are being batted around by people who haven’t seen the film. Some the of the reasons are comical: in the book, Jesus is named as one of the great philosophers, and conservatives didn’t like that! In the film version, His name is not mentioned, and conservatives didn’t like that either!

So I was pleasantly surprised to find this positive review from the Christian Century: What makes “A Wrinkle in Time” Christian?

My own take: Meg (Storm Reid) is a strong role model for girls. In spite of her problems, she has great courage, and with the help of 3 angelic figures, goes off in search of her father, who is being held prisoner by an evil force. (And she’s even modestly dressed!) And in the film version, she’s black, so black children finally have some representation on the big screen. This is an adventure film for all ages, with themes about good vs evil, family, reconciliation, and love.

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Interesting. I haven’t seen the movie yet and to me it doesn’t look promising. My sense is that Madeleine L’Engle wouldn’t like it, having abhorred the 2003 previous adaptation, from what I hear (I think she would have had exceptionally high standards when it came to faithfulness).

I grew up in a pretty strict fundamentalist-like charismatic/pentecostal family (I say “fundamentalist-like” because fundamentalism and pentecostalism are philosophically opposed). I came across A Wrinkle in Time in Grade 7 and had no clue even in the reading of it that there was anything “Christian” about it. (Then again, I stumbled across The Voyage of the Dawn Treader in Grade 5 and enjoyed that, but experienced more than a tinge of guilt and fear when I found out it was part of “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” series (because it had a witch in it!:hushed:)

Much, much, much later on, I reread the book and read all the sequels and pretty well anything else Madeleine L’Engle wrote, and then had the opportunity to meet her, at Regent Seminary, no less.

All these expectations and things are weird.

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I had no idea this book had drawn such ire. Guess I’ve been sheltered. My wife and I are both of the age of those who had the story read to us in our early elementary years and subsequently read it for ourselves too. So we enjoyed seeing the movie. I have a pretty low bar when it comes to how movies will compare with an original writing; --and low (realistic) expectations help out here. The book is what it is (excellent!). And the movie is what it is on its own terms as well; and I thought it was good when allowed to just tell a story of its own too, even if it predictably toys with L’Engle’s original plot (this is Hollywood after all).

I bet I can guess at the calculus being bandied among screen writers crafting their new hopeful baby for the wilds of today’s pop culture. It’s well known that some noisy contingent of culture will find offense on the issue of how Jesus is treated. So I can imagine that if there were grumblings over the use of Jesus’ name in the original work, it was because he was subjected to the ‘indignity’ of being included on a list of many other ‘merely great’ people. Message to movie making folks today: “Just leave Jesus out of things altogether … you’ll draw the ire of vocal right-wingers and/or anti-religious nuts if you try; just not worth it.” And so they dropped him. And lo and behold! Now another (or some of the same?) contingent is mad that Jesus suffers the indignity of being cut from the list.

It was refreshing to see the positive review here, and I chime in with positive tones too, even if tempered with caveats. One last one would be this: if you have little patience for mystical sensibilities and are hyper-sensitive to, and easily offended by any “new-agey” jargon or intonations, then you’ll find this film frustrating and probably just write it off. But if you’re prepared to enjoy a great story with drop-dead special effects, wondrously beautiful scenes, and age-old heroic themes woven through it, I think you’re in for a treat.

One last warning (this time about myself). On the continuum from very “dark” movies toward “light fluff” I tend to enjoy the latter. If it’s going to be dark, there had better be a payoff in profundity. So in that light, I enjoyed ‘Wrinkle in Time’, dealing with its couple of darkish themes, but mostly cool fluff.

I saw the movie, and thought it was forgettable, sort of a disappointment as I had high expectations having read the book as a kid and reread it with kids and grandkids… I thought the book’s Christian references were a little contrived, but did have the underlying theme of God as sustainer of creation, and love conquers. Also, the movie made the dad sort of a sitcom dork, where in the book he was doing the best he could in a bad situation.
The other thing was in the movie, they kept saying “the IT” where in the book, it was just “IT.” And I bet Oprah made them make her bigger than the other Mrs.'
Other than that, it was really OK.

Did you not realise the White Witch was the villain?

Not until much later. My upbringing led me to believe that “anything with witches in it” was bad. Note that this was implicit, not explicit, teaching. My dad was pretty happy when he found out I was reading the Narnia Chronicles. I don’t think my mother cared, but if she had been aware of the content of the series, she probably would only have grudgingly approved.

My atheist friend is nuts about the Narnia series. But I had to talk her into seeing Wrinkle because she doesn’t like anything religious. Go figure. Lord of the Rings is an interesting case. Despite its rich Christian imagery, especially of the Roman Catholic variety, most people didn’t catch on and it managed to fly under the radar.

Well, her family must like the new movie since it’s featured prominently on the official Madeleine L’Engle web site.


That’s good to know!

Or, perhaps money is a factor. Cynical old guys like me tend to always think that is the case, especially if it is denied.

Back to the title question, I suppose the idea of sacrificial love, to risk all to save the ones you love, is truly a Christian theme whether Jesus is mentioned on not in the movie. Also the idea that there is truly evil in the universe, that we do not live in a world of moral relativism, is present, and sort of goes against the post-modern criticisms that have been voiced by some.

One special effect that I thought truly improved upon the book was when they were in IT and part of the matrix of neurons firing and such. The giant throbbing brain of the book just did not capture the moment as well, as well as left other questions unanswered.


Speaking of films, are you wondering what happened to the Narnia movies? The next movie to be filmed will be “The Silver Chair.” The director will be Joe Johnston.

Also, you might want to check out the Facebook page called Bible Films


And this is why Disney rarely does religious films. They aren’t anti-religious, but they don’t want the controversy. They did get the Narnia franchise but dropped it after the first one or two films.

The guy that designed the iconic X-Wing and TIE fighters?

Seems to be. Here’s a Wikipedia article about the guy.

Better Star Wars than religious wars!

Yeah, I figured. My career goal used to be special effects in film. Joe Johnston was an icon for me.

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