“Christians build up little gods, little temples of Baal. We begin to worship them. And we must tear them down, destroy them,” author Madeleine L’Engle told Christianity Today. The interview was conducted late in L’Engle’s career (she passed away in 2007), during a time when her writings were highly controversial.
Readers outside the church complained that she talked about Christ and faith far too often. Her most vocal opponents, however, were inside the Christian community. Part of the frustration, according to one book review, was that she eschewed evangelical language.
One of L’Engle’s poems, Love Letter, begins with the arresting words:
I hate you, God.Love, Madeleine.I write my message on waterand at bedtime I tiptoe upstairsand let it flow under your door.
Her honesty—“When I am angry with you, I know that you are there”—seems to channel David’s in the Imprecatory Psalms. Most beautifully, L”Engle’s thorough examination reaches into the depths of her own heart; “I cannot turn the other cheek. It takes all the strength I have.” In her interview with Christianity Today, L’Engle continues:
The gods we erect are easier to worship than the Creator of the universe. They’re more comprehensible. We don’t like having to depend on that which we cannot control, manipulate, dominate.Freedom comes on the other side of work. If I want to play a Bach fugue, I must practice scales. If I hope for any transcendent experience in prayer, I have to have just done my ordinary, everyday prayers, which is the same thing as practicing my scales. I have to write every day.Freedom and discipline, rather than being antithetical, are complementary. Permissiveness, either from others toward you or toward yourself, ends up being restricting and crippling. If you choose to be a writer and a mother, you have to be incredibly disciplined. Otherwise you won’t manage. Discipline does not imprison you.
Idols are destroyed through spiritual discipline, hearts transformed through prayer. None more-so than L’Engle’s in Love Letter. After pouring out her frustration, lament, and confession L’Engle, with her final words, cries out:
Let me hear you roar.Love,Madeleine