Along with all the greatest writers of the fantastic, the Inklings offer an alternative to (if not a dissent from) what Charles Taylor calls the Modern Moral Order: a rational ethic of individual rights governed by moral laws aimed at maximizing temporal happiness. The Modern Moral Order encourages us to evaluate our moral decisions in light of rational calculations about tangible goods and bads—does one’s chosen sexual indulgence, for instance, hurt anyone?—rather than assessing them via transcendent sources, the Tao or the Ten Commandments. The removal of these common sources further drives moral decision-making back to individuals, eroding our common moral language until it’s little more than a veneer over the id, with moral arguments made on the basis of appeals to personal authenticity, “self-care,” or chosen identities.

For all L’Engle’s explicit spirituality, her works show a greater comfort with the Modern Moral Order than one might expect from a writer so often associated with the antimodern Inklings.

My review of Madeleine L’Engle’s “Kairos Novels”