Talk about why grownups are trying to ban books. Let me tell you something about about Madeleine L’Engle—I now want to be a L’Engle scholar b/c of this—she said this about the Bible: The Bible is a wonderful storybook of unqualified people. It is not a moral book.
L’Engle is Episcopalian and was not raised with the baggage many of us are having to unlearn, but she did learn some valuable things from evangelicals—when she figured out they existed in her forties at Wheaton College. Evangelicals taught her how to pray spontaneously. She loves their enthusiasm and love of liturgy, but not their theology. Holding back questions, suppressing doubt, and to never grieve are not things she could accept, nor do I.
I love when she said this: Yesterday’s heresy is tomorrow’s dogma. She is spot on here as we see the far-right wing evangelicals taking a heresy and making it a dogma right now (i.e. Owen S. subordinating the Son heresy).
Doubt is what takes us into faith. We should doubt some of the dogmas. It is a healthy thing to do. Doubt is the acceptance of faith! Oh, I love that so much. She said her religion is able to change on a moment’s notice. If we are not open to God’s revelation then our religion is dead.
I am a storyteller, so is L’Engle. Story is what takes her deeper into faith. Fantasy reveals truth that facts cannot. Facts do not take us far enough, but we need them. Facts DO matter! Fantasy moves beyond that which is limited to that which is not limited to help us learn, to grow, and to just be. Fantasy is what encompasses the gospels letting us know we are loved. In fantasy, love is primary.
CS Lewis wrote his fantasies b/c his theology could never say enough about God. Theology never will. The German theologians tried. L’Engle does not like German theologians very much. They are good for insomnia. The mistake they made is using long dramatic sentences trying to prove. Fantasy never makes that mistake.
Fantasy is always hopeful. To describe the incarnation as fantasy may sound offensive, but that fantasy is also true. It cannot be proven, but it still leads us to a deeper truth. True fantasy cannot be killed. It cannot be proven, but it cannot be killed. In the world of fantasy, love is primary. It shows us we can change. We do not have to make the same mistakes over and over.
The fact that Father Joe Ted Miller, Pappy, was also Episcopalian (Episcopalian priest) and someone I was able to sit with and talk with every chance I got while he was on this earth is speaking to me loudly right now. He told me this when he got his Alzheimer’s diagnosis and knew it would take him from this earth: I hope that I can be a spirit that gets to continue with you doing the good work you are doing.
Me finding Madeleine L’Engle shortly after his death does not feel like a coincidence.