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December 2, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Sept. 12, 2007 / 29 Elul 5767

Light and darkness and a disembodied brain

By Jeff Jacoby

Jeff Jacoby
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I spotted the obituary for Madeleine L'Engle, who died last week at 88, and in my mind's eye I was 9 years old again, racing through A Wrinkle in Time, unable to stop turning the pages despite my shudders of foreboding at the sinister something that I knew was coming — the implacable malevolence, referred to only as "IT," that had turned life on the planet Camazotz into a nightmare of faceless conformity, imprisoned Meg Murry's scientist father, and taken over the mind of her little brother, the precocious Charles Wallace. I was four-fifths of the way through the book, utterly riveted, so tense I was barely breathing. And then I reached it — the appalling and creepy revelation I had been dreading:


IT was a brain.


A disembodied brain. An oversized brain, just enough larger than normal to be completely revolting and terrifying. A living brain. A brain that pulsed and quivered, that seized and commanded. No wonder the brain was called IT. IT was the most horrible, the most repellent thing she had ever seen, far more nauseating than anything she had ever imagined with her conscious mind, or that had ever tormented her in her most terrible nightmares.


Long before J.K. Rowling transfixed millions of readers with Harry Potter's adventures at Hogwarts, Madeleine L'Engle was mesmerizing their parents with the saga of Meg and Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin O'Keefe, who journey across galaxies to find the Murrys' missing father. They reach him with the help of three mysterious old women — Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which — who are in fact not women at all, but the physical manifestation of stars that sacrificed themselves eons ago in battle with the Dark Thing, the evil force that since time immemorial has been trying to overpower the universe.


In The New Yorker a few years ago, the poet Cynthia Zarin observed that A Wrinkle in Time, which was published in 1962, has been variously described as science fiction, a Cold War allegory, a feminist landmark (because it featured a heroine, unusual in sci-fi of the time), a religious fable, a coming-of-age novel, a work of pagan mysticism, and even "a prescient meditation on the future of the United States after the Kennedy assassination." But when she first read it as a child, Zarin remarked, "I was innocent of any of this."


So was I. I only knew that A Wrinkle in Time was a great read, and that compared with other works of children's fantasy I was devouring — Edward Eager's droll books about ordinary children having magical adventures, for example, or Eleanor Cameron's "Mushroom Planet" series — it seemed somehow deeper and more real. I certainly wasn't the only reader with whom it resonated. A Wrinkle in Time was an instant best seller. Now in its 69th printing, it has sold 10 million copies.


Ironically, the book was rejected by more than 20 publishers before John Farrar of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, a friend of L'Engle's mother, happened to read the manuscript and loved it. There may be no single reason why so many publishers shied away from what would come to be seen, to quote John Podhoretz, as "possibly the best and most memorable young person's novel written in the United States since World War II." But perhaps what made them uneasy about A Wrinkle In Time was precisely what strikes me, all these years later, as so remarkable about it: its message of a universe threatened by evil, in which the greatest good is accomplished only by those prepared to swallow their fears and face the enemies of freedom and truth.


"Maybe it won't seem strange to you that some of our very best fighters have come right from your own planet," Mrs. Whatsit tells the children shortly before their hazardous trip to Camazotz. "You can be proud that it's done so well."


Puzzled, Calvin asks: "Who have our fighters been?" Mrs. Who responds by quoting the gospel of John: "And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not."


As a 9-year-old, I was thrilled and horrified by the giant disembodied brain. What speaks to me far more keenly today is L'Engle's message of light confronting the darkness. A Wrinkle In Time, she always insisted, was not a children's book. But sometimes the best way to reach adults with a difficult truth is through literature that appeals to children.


"Almost all of the best children's books do this," she said in her acceptance speech when A Wrinkle in Time won the prestigious Newbery Award in 1963. "Not only an Alice in Wonderland, a Wind in the Willow, a Princess and the Goblin. Even the most straightforward tales say far more than they seem to mean on the surface. Little Women, The Secret Garden, Huckleberry Finn — how much more there is in them than we realize at a first reading. They partake of the universal language, and this is why we turn to them again and again when we are children, and still again when we have grown up."

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Jeff Jacoby is a Boston Globe columnist. Comment by clicking here.

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