Thursday, November 24, 2011

Some L'Engle

Madeleine L'Engle in "Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art":

"For the opposite of sin is faith and never virtue, and we live in a world that believes self-control can make us virtuous. But that's not how it works... To quote H.A. Williams again,

When I attempt to make myself virtuous, the me I can thus organize and discipline is no more than the me of which I am aware And it is precisely the equation of my total self with this one small part of it which is the root cause of all sin. This is the fundamental mistake often made in exhortations to repentance and amendment. They attempt to confirm me in my lack of faith by getting me to organize the self I know against the self I do not know.

"In prayer, in the creative process, these two parts of ourselves, the mind and the heart, the intellect and the intuition, the conscious and the subconscious mind, stop fighting each other and collaborate. Theophan the Recluse advised those who came to him for counsel to 'pray with the mind in the heart,' and surly this is how the artist works. When mind and heart work together, they know each other as two people who love each other know; and as the love of two people is a gift, a totally unmerited, incomprehensible gift, so is the union of the mind and heart. David cried out to God, 'Unite my heart to fear thy name.' It is my prayer too.

"When I urge that we abandon our rigid self-control I am not suggesting that we abandon ourselves into hysteria or licentiousness, uninhibited temper tantrums or self-indulgence. Anything but. However, when we try to control our lives totally with the self we think we know, 'the result is that growth in self-awareness is inhibited.' And, Williams continues, 'there is a sort of devilish perversity in this organizing me not to sin by means of the very thing which ensures that I shall. Faith, on the other hand, consists in the awareness that I am more than I know." Such awareness came to the prodigal when he realized he was more than a starving swineherd. What led him home was his becoming aware that he was also his father's son. Yet his awareness of the sonship was enough to make him journey homewards.

"The journey homewards. Coming home. That's what it's all about. The journey to the coming of the kingdom. That's probably the chief difference between the Christian and the secular artist--the purpose of the work, be it story or music or painting, is to further the coming of the kingdom, to make us more aware of our status as  children of God, and to turn our feet toward home."

pages 192-194

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