Thoughts on a Wrinkle in Time
Before the release of the latest Wrinkle in Time film, I had the opportunity to listen to the audio book to get the big juicy version of the story before it is watered down into chew-able movie chunks. And what a juicy, multifaceted story indeed.
Combining sci-fi and fantasy into a universe that is deeply rooted in our own, I found that this succulent story hides many truths in plain sight.
The creative mind of Madeleine L’Engle birthed many plains and dared to imagine a universe centred around a God who is infinite in His love and awesome creative power with many worlds inhabited by various creatures that are both like and unlike our world.
Heaven and Hell can be found in A Wrinkle in Time
What fascinated me most was the constant contrasts that L’Engle drew between heaven and hell. At times, these contrasts were as obvious as the blissful plains of Uriel, with bright colours and beautiful songs compared to the Camazotz with its harsh lights and synthetic existence. And at other times as subtle as the broken O’Keefe home or the blissful, yet muted world of Ixchel.
These versions of heaven and hell that can be identified within our own world with a drop of imagination. If you merely look at what’s behind it, L’Engle describes Heaven as any place where the uniqueness of the individual is embraced, loved and encouraged to thrive. The place where everyone’s strengths and weaknesses can contribute to the greater good.
On the other, hell is described as any place where your uniqueness needs to be suppressed to avoid punishment and pain. Hell might be clean-cut and easy to understand, but it sure as hell hurts (jip, I just did that).
A Wrinkle In Time Is Timeless
What keeps the story relevant, 50 years after the book was first published, is that earth is neither heaven nor hell but a battle ground where both exist.
It is a contrast that is brought in through the homes of the O’Keefe and Murray families. Calvin O’Keefe does not have a happy home, with a mother that barely cares, and from her own inner hell lashes out. Megan Murray is raised in a home where Heaven is prevalent, though not easy.
What I found refreshing was that being part of a hellish or heaven-like home does not predetermine the heaven-like or hellish nature of the individual raised within that environment.
Consider Megan’s outbursts of rage, immaturity and susceptibility to the darkness, compared to Calvin O’Keefe who comforts, challenges the darkness and is courageous (for the most part).
What I took away from the book
The key lessons of this remarkable story are that hell is created when individuals relinquished their responsibility in favour for the blissful, yet painful, submission to passing the responsibility (and ultimately authority) to someone else.
On the flip side, L’Engle doesn’t make taking up responsibility any less painful or fearful, but encourages us that it is the type of pain, and self-death, that brings more of heaven about, and shall by no means be unrewarding.
For me, it is one of those stories that is about more than just Megan Murray’s quest to find her father through space and time. It is a story with the message of Kingdom subtly intertwined within the pages. It’s a story that wheedles its way within your heart that challenges you to take up the responsibility of that that thing that you know you can change.
I am curious to see whether the Hollywood adaptation will rely heavily of effects to wow audiences, in which case they’ll severely miss what makes this book such an enduring tale. If the subtlety can be interwoven into the story as deftly as L’Engle has, then there will be a truthful adaptation of the story that does what any story should do: Encourage and change our world view.