I read this book at 20 and it changed me. As you read this quote, you might recognize your own situation. For L’Engle it was the highly cerebral German theologians who answered everything that left no room for her. For me (and many in our culture), it was evangelical “just try harder-pull yourself by your bootstraps” theology that has insidiously rooted in everything we faithful do, that left no room for my story. And under both (and maybe all tricks of the enemy) is our essential need to control so that our fears, shame, anger may be quieted.
If anything our culture is groaning at us right now, its that the loudest stories the faithful have told in public are not the truest ones. Because they do not start and end in love. They don’t start and end with love for everyone, not just the ones that look like you. These stories are being found lacking when they are examined by the actual seeking ones.
L’Engle also makes note that the opposite of sin is not virtue – beware the tendency to legislate our salvation. The opposite of sin is faith. Its trust in a loving, all-ways-meeting-you-and-everyone-else-too God, who looks like a grace-filled face interested in your life as it is. The end.
So if your faith is deconstructing–if you are questioning the validity of what you’ve been told – its good and you are in good company. It’s God talking to you in a new way, like how I talk differently to my 9 year old than I did when she was 1. Its God taking you by the hand (or knocking you off your horse if you’re a bit like Paul) blinding you to everything you thought you needed to know, and showing you the one thing needed. This is the still-point of transformation every time, in every shade of Christianity.
“I was at a point in my life where my faith in God and the loving purposes of Creation was very insecure, and I wanted desperately to have my faith strengthened. If I could not believe in a God who truly cared about every atom and subatom of his creation, then life seemed hardly worth living. I asked questions, cosmic questions, and the German theologians answered them all—and they were questions which should not have been answered in such a finite, laboratory-proof manner. I read their rigid answers, and I thought sadly, “If I have to believe all this limiting of God, the I cannot be a Christian.” And I wanted to be one.
I had yet to learn the FAITHFULNESS of doubt. This is often assumed by the judgemental to be FAITHLESSNESS, but it is not;
It is a pre-requisite for living faith.
Francis Bacon writes, “If we begin in certainties we will end in doubt.”
The anonymous author of The Cloud of Unknowing writes, “By love God may be gotten and holden, but by thought or understanding, never.”
Love, not answers.
Love, which trusts God so implicitly despite the cloud (and is not the cloud a sign of God?) that it is brave enough to ask questions, no matter how fearful.
It was the scientists, with their questions, their awed rapture at the glory of the created universe, who helped to convert me. In a sense, A Wrinkle in Time was my rebuttal to the German theologians. It was also my affirmation of a universe in which I could take note of all the evil and unfairness and horror, and yet believe in a loving Creator. I thought of it, at that time, as probably a very heretical book, theologically speaking, which is a delightful little joke at my expense, becase it is, I have been told, theologically a completely orthodox book. The Holy Spirit has a definite sense of humor.”
Madeleine L’Engle from Walking on Water
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