Review: The Irrational Season

The Irrational Season (Crosswicks Journals, Book 3)The Irrational Season by Madeleine L’Engle

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

L’Engle takes her thinking through the liturgical year, starting with Advent and considering incarnation and the human condition, light and dark, time (chronos & kairos), love, Trinity and living out and thinking after Christ day in and day out – understanding the self and how it is manifested within the liturgical framework and the community of believers. She even ventures to consider those days when we become functional atheists and struggle to believe.

Some of her poetic responses are included throughout – some are better than others, some are awkwardly placed.


“And then we are in kairos. Kairos. God’s time,which isn’t really tie at all in the sense that we know man’s time, chronos. It is impossible while we are living in time, to define kairos; it is to be understood by intuition, rather than intellect, and recognized only afterwards, by anamnesis when we are back in time again, for in kairos we are completely unselfconscious. Whenever I have loved most truly and most spontaneously, time has vanished and I have been in kairos.” p 17

“It has been my experience that freedom comes as the temperate zone integrates sunside and nightside, thereby making wholeness instead of brokenness.” p 21

“The first bitter lessons of marriage consisted in learning to love the person we had actually married, instead of the image we wanted to have married.” p42

“After all these years I am just beginning to understand the freedom that making a solemn vow before God, making a lifelong commitment to one person, gives each of us.” p 46

“… the happiness offered us by the Beatitudes is not meterial; it is more spiritual than physical, internal than external; and there is an implication which I find very exciting that the circle of blessing is completed only when man blesses God, that God’s blessing does not return to him empty.” p 60

“When I tend to go cosmic it is often because it is easier to be cosmic than to be particular. The small, overlooked particulars which are symbols of such things as being peacemakers are usually to be found in our everyday lives. Of course we’d rather have something more dramatic and spectacular, so we tend not to see the peacemakers in our own path, or the opportunities for peacemaking which are presented us each day.” p 83

“I stand with Paul here. When we deny the Resurrection, we are denying Christianity. We are no longer the Church; no wonder the secular world is horrified by us.” p 93

“During the question and answer period one of them asked me about the moral precepts in my stories, and the question alarmed me, because a novel should not be a moral tract, it should be a story.” p 100 (YES!)

“But God always calls unqualified people. In cold reality, no one is qualified; but God, whose ways are not our ways, seems to choose those least qualified, people who well may have come from slums and battlefields and insane asylums. IF he had chosen great kings, successful and wealthy merchants, wise men with their knowledge of the stars, it would be easy to think that these people, of their own virtue and understanding, accomplished on their own the blessing which God asked them to complete. … the blessing is always God’s.” p 101

“I’m not looking for morals, I’m looking for truth.” pg 102

“(Simone Wiel said that revolution, and not religion, is the soporific of the masses)” p 108

“So the Ascension is freed to move into the realm of myth.
“It doesn’t bother me when people talk condescendingly about the Christian myth, because it is n myth that sunside and nightside collaborate and give us our glimpses of truth. But when I use the word myth I bump headlong into semantic problems, because myth, to many people, is a lie. Despite the fact that during the last decade myth has been rediscovered as a vehicle of truth, there are still those who cannot help thinking of it as something which is false. We give children the Greek and Roman myths, the Norse or Celtic myths, and expect them to be outgrown, as though they are only for children and not to be taken seriously by realistic adults. If I speak of the Christian myth it is assumed not only that I am certainly not a fundamentalist, but that I am an intellectual who does not need God and can speak with proper condescension of the rather silly stories which should be outgrown at puberty. But I am far closer to the fundamentalist than the atheist when I speak of myth as truth.” p 114

“The most difficult thing to let go is my self, that self which, coddled and cozened, becomes smaller as it becomes heavier. I don’t understand how and why I come to be only as I lose myself, but I know from long experience that this is true.” p 119

“If I am conscious of writing well as I am writing, those pages usually end in the wastepaper basket. If I am conscious of praying well, I am probably not praying at all. These are gifts which we know only afterwards, with anamnesis.
“Trouble always comes whenever we begin to take credit for any of the gifts of the Spirit, be they gifts of prayer, tongues, prophecy, art, science. This can be as fatally true in the secular world as in teh religious–but one of the greatest victories of the Enemy has been the separation of sacred and secular, and placing them in opposition. All of creation is sacred, despite everything we have done to abase and abuse it. ” p 124

“We sit in the brilliant sunshine of intellect and don’t even know that we are not whole.” p 136

“I am basically intuitive rather than intellectual (which is probably why the third person of the Trinity is the least difficult for me), although I don’t discard or discount my intellect; nightside alone is as incomplete as sunside alone.” p 138

“We may be a global village, but instant communication often isolates us from each other rather than uniting us. When I am bombarded on the evening news with earthquake, flood, fire, [Covid 19], it is too much for me. There is a mechanism, a safety valve, which cuts off our response to overexposure to suffering.” p 139 – Timely!

“We’ve been trying to understand the Trinity in terms of provable fact instead of poetry, and so we stop saying the Creed at many services.” p 156

“If she diligently practiced her music, it also practiced her.” pg 161

“… destruction of language is a result of war and is always a curtailment of freedom.” p 163

“We need words with which to think; kill words and we won’t be able to think and we’ll be easier to manipulate.” p 164

“I seek for God that he may find me because I have learned, empirically, that this is how it works. I seek: he finds.” p 171

“… one of Satan’s dirtiest devices is to promise infinite understanding to finite creatures.” p 175

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