As a young girl, there was a book filled with stories and wisdom that shaped my view of the world and my place in it. “The Book of Mormon” was far from fictional to me then. Though touted as a “religious” book, it would be nearly five decades before I really understood its source and intent. Unfortunately, the “Book of Mormon” is mocked as a fantasy written by a conman to take advantage of people and justify a new American religion. It was not until after I read the additional 2/3s of the book (called “The Sealed Portion”) and learned about Joseph Smith, Jr.’s reasons for the book (“Without Disclosing My True Identity, the Authorized and Official Biography of the Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith, Jr.“), as well as his true history and the events surrounding the book’s coming forth, that I was able to accept that it was, in fact, “fictional.” Fiction, or not, however, “The Book of Mormon” is one of the most powerful, albeit so mis-understood, books ever written.
In sixth grade, my teacher read to the class a Newbery Award Winning book, published shortly before my birth: “A Wrinkle in Time,” by Madeline L’Engle. As Mrs. Cummard read, I was pulled in to the story and became the main character, Meg. As she reached the climax, I literally wept, feeling the great love Meg had for her young brother, Charles Wallace.
Through the intervening years, I have read both books many times: several times each to my own children, and “A Wrinkle in Time” to each group of children I have ever taught.
Strangely enough, both books present many of the same principles:
* In AWIT, Meg’s mother tells her that she just needs “to plow through some more time” before things will get easier for her, which is indeed literally what Meg will do when she travels through a wrinkle in time (a “tesseract”). In the BOM, the reader is continually given the same message: “And it came to pass.”
* As Meg’s difficulties with school and life are a realization of all the fears she had expressed, so too, do the stories of the BOM relay the power of one’s own and society’s collective beliefs and their effects on others and the climate.
* Each of the major characters in both books share the sense that they are a part of something that they do not fully understand, but which nonetheless governs their behavior and their interactions with one another.
* The encounters of both the tremendous forces for good and the tremendous forces for evil are currently at battle with one another.
* Both books highlight the reality that we are not alone in our mortal journey and that “guardian angels” travel with and protect us on our cosmic quest. Yet, when Calvin falls to his knees to worship one in AWIT, her response, “never to me,” is the suggestion that one’s guides desire to serve, not be worshipped.
* AWIT alludes to L’Engle’s personal understanding of time, most clearly articulated in her autobiography “A Circle of Quiet.” She explains that there are two types of time: Chronos and Kairos. Whereas Chronos is ordinary clock time, divided evenly into hours, minutes, and seconds, Kairos is God’s time, in which notions of past and present are irrelevant. Likewise, replete throughout the BOM are two concepts of time: that which we typically call “time” (or this “probationary state”) and “eternity.” Within AWIT, their cosmic journey through “a wrinkle in time” (or a “tesseract) has them arriving back BEFORE they had actually left. Meg returns to Earth a changed person, even though no chronological time has elapsed.
* Several chapters after Mrs. Murry’s advise that Meg seek a “happy medium,” Meg and her companions meet a jolly clairvoyant who is, in the most literal sense, a “happy medium.” In the BOM, the prophet Lehi teaches about the necessity of an “opposition in all things” while the book presents many examples of conflicts which necessarily and eventually resolve into balance, a “moderation of all things.”
* L’Engle distinguishes between uniformity and togetherness: in order to fight the evil forces on the planet Camazotz, the children must stick together even while maintaining their individual identities and utilizing their unique talents. The BOM often emphasizes the importance of “the gathering of Israel” while allowing for and explaining various “gifts of the spirit.”
* In AWIT, Meg is advised by the dark forces bent to subtly destroy her to “stop fighting and relax,” and then “just relax and don’t fight and it will all be much easier for you.” In the BOM, the readers are warned of those who try to “lull and pacify” one into “carnal security,” saying “All’s well in Zion, yea, Zion prospereth.” Yet, attempting to fight “IT” on the strength of his exceptional intelligence, Charles Wallace fails to withstand the evil force; his intellect alone is not sufficient. Charles’s downfall demonstrates that intelligence and intellect alone cannot resist the tyranny of uniformity.
* In AWIT, Meg recites the “Declaration of Independence” in her attempt to free herself from the grip of the rational, logical, cold, disembodied brain (“IT”). Both books present the principle that no one has the freedom of self-determination or the inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness while participating in a “hypnotized,” truth-obscured world focused on conformity and outer appearances. “And I know that ye do walk in the pride of your hearts; and there are none save a few only who do not lift themselves up in the pride of their hearts, unto the wearing of very fine apparel, unto envying, and strifes, and malice, and persecutions, and all manner of iniquities; and your churches, yea, even every one, have become polluted because of the pride of your hearts.” “For behold, ye do love money, and your substance, and your fine apparel, and the adorning of your churches, more than ye love the poor and the needy, the sick and the afflicted.”
* Reality is not always as it seems, and both books present the need to learn to see things more clearly, as they truly are, beneath their often-deceptive surfaces. Similarly, by separating sight from perception, L’Engle demonstrates that seeing is only one way of coming to know and understand the world. In AWIT, Aunt Beast tells Meg, “Think about things as they are. This look doesn’t help us at all.” The difference between form and essence in AWIT parallels the main (yet often missed) principle of the BOM. When read carefully and in context, the “Book of Mormon” is all about the “Gentiles” (modern-day Americans) helping the descendants of ancient Native Americans prosper and feel important and equal to the Europeans who possess and control the Western Hemisphere. The BOM continues the New Testament story of Jesus after he was killed by the Jews in the Eastern Hemisphere. It explains that he resurrected and visited the people living in the Western Hemisphere to show God’s liberal equality to all the people of the earth regardless of race: “For he doeth that which is good among the children of men; and he doeth nothing save it be plain unto the children of men; and he inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; and he remembereth the heathen; and all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile.”
* Central to both books is the concept of the “will,” or free choice. Throughout L’Engle’s novel, characters make small but important decisions that affect the entire universe. AWIT presents that life is like a sonnet–organized and structured, but not pre-determined. As Mrs. Whatsit tells Calvin, “You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.”
* Yet another theme of AWIT and an important lesson for Meg is the inadequacy of words. Meg learns this lesson in her rescue of Charles Wallace: she ultimately triumphs over “IT” not through eloquent pleas or persuasive rhetoric, but through the sheer power of a love too great for words. In the BOM, the “Anti-Nephi-Lehites” (self-named such because they refuse to judge themselves or others by placing them into conforming categories) portray this concept when they prostrate themselves, weaponless, before their invading “enemies.” Not many of their lives are taken before those bent upon their destruction have their own hearts pierced and become, also, “new creatures,” filled with love and acceptance.
* Yes, the triumph of brotherly love is the principle theme of both books. The BOM furthers the message of the New Testament Jesus who taught forbearance, forgiveness, to “love your enemies, do good to those who persecute you and despitefully use you.”
Below is my favorite part of “A Wrinkle in Time” pp. 206-208). This begins with Meg’s mental conversation of how to rescue her younger brother, Charles Wallace from the formidable yet invisible tentacles of “IT.”
“As long as I can stay angry enough IT can’t get me. Is that what I have that IT doesn’t have?”
“Nonsense,” Charles Wallace said. “You have nothing that it doesn’t have.”
“You’re lying,” she replied, and she felt only anger toward this boy who was not Charles Wallace at all. No, it was not anger, it was loathing; it was hatred, sheer and unadulterated, and as she became lost in hatred she also began to be lost in IT. The red miasma swam before her eyes; her stomach churned in Its rhythm. Her body trembled with the strength of her hatred and the strength of IT.
With the last vestige of consciousness she jerked her mind and body. Hate was nothing that IT didn’t have. IT knew all about hate.
“You are lying about that, and you were lying about Mrs. Whatsit!” she screamed.
“Mrs. Whatsit hates you,” Charles Wallace said.
And that was where IT made Its fatal mistake, for as Meg said, automatically, “Mrs. Whatsit loves me; that’s what she told me, that she loves me,” suddenly she knew.
That was what she had that IT did not have.
She had Mrs. Whatsit’s love, and her father’s, and her mother’s and the real Charles Wallace’s love, and the twins’, and Aunt Beast’s.
And she had her love for them.
But how could she use it? What was she meant to do?
If she could give love to IT perhaps it would shrivel up and die, for she was sure that IT could not withstand love. But she, in all her weakness and foolishness and baseness and nothingness, was incapable of loving IT. Perhaps it was not too much to ask of her, but she could not do it.
But she could love Charles Wallace.
She could stand there and she could love Charles Wallace.
Her own Charles Wallace, the real Charles Wallace, the child for whom she had come back to Camazotz, to IT, the baby who was so much more than she was, and who was yet so utterly vulnerable.
She could love Charles Wallace.
Charles. Charles, I love you. My baby brother who always takes care of me.
Come back to me, Charles Wallace, come away from IT, come back, come home. I love you,
Charles. Oh, Charles Wallace, I love you.
Tears were streaming down her cheeks, but she was unaware of them.
Now she was even able to look at him, at this animated thing that was not her own Charles Wallace at all. She was able to look and love.
I love you. Charles Wallace, you are my darling and my dear and the light of my life and the treasure of my heart. I love you. I love you. I love you.
Slowly his mouth closed. Slowly his eyes stopped their twirling. The tic in the forehead ceased its revolting twitch. Slowly he advanced toward her.
“I love you!” she cried. “I love you, Charles! I love you!”
Then suddenly he was running, pelting, he was in her arms, he was shrieking with sobs. “Meg! Meg! Meg!”
“I love you, Charles!” she cried again, her sobs almost as loud as his, her tears mingling with his. “I love you! I love you! I love you!”
To close, dear reader, I love you! 🙂 May YOU learn the power of brotherly love and the principles espoused in these two precious works.
In my pursuit of Real Truth, I have given up everything. Crawling through the “eye of the needle,” I have learned the *mysteries* and am now giving my life to assist YOU to dis-cover Who *YOU* really are, along with your unique gift to offer humanity. As you learn to seek (in the right place and with purified intent), you WILL find treasures of lasting value, along with every promised reward. Together, we will establish a society of humane beings and live life ALIVE, on PURPOSE, and with a sociality unequaled… because we will each BE and view each other as equally and profoundly DIVINE! Please… catch this Hope and Vision and join with me.