On Responsibility. Play. Writing. Laughter. ~ Madeleine L’Engle

I really like Madeleine L’Engle…especially her non-fiction. She is one of my favorite writers. While she is no longer living with us on this side of eternity, she is enjoying time with God and the other saints in Paradise. This is an exerpt from her book Circle of Quiet the first book in her Crosswicks Journal. (Harper San Francisco, 1972).

“. . . this certainly says something about the state of Christianity today. I wouldn’t mind if to be a Christian were accepted as being the dangerous thing which it is; I wouldin’t mind if, when a group of Christians meet for bread and wine, we might well be interrupted and jailed for subversive activities. I wouldn’t mind if, once again, we were being thrown to the lions. I do mind, desperately, that the word ‘Christian’ means for so many people smugness, and piosity, and holier-than-thouness. Who, today, can recognize a Christian because of “how they love one another?”

No wonder our youth is confused and in pain; they long for God, the transcendent, and are offered, far too often, either piosity or sociology, neither of which meets their needs, and they are introduced to churches which have become buildings that are safe places to escape the awful demands of God . . . .

To be responsible means precisely what the word implies: to be capable of giving a response . . . . A writer who writes a story which has no response to what is going on in the world is not only copping out himself but is helping others to be irresponsible, too . . . .

To refuse to respond is in itself a response. Those of us who write are responsible for the effect of our books. Those who teach, who suggest books to either children or adults, are responsible for their choices. Like it or not, we either add to the darkness of indifference and out-and-out evil which surround us or we light a candle to see by.

We can surely no longer pretend that our children are growing up in a peaceful, secure, and civilized world. We’ve come to the point where it is irresponsible to try to protect them from the irrational world they will have to live in when they grow up. The children themselves haven’t yet isolated themselves by selfishness and indifference; they do not fall easily into the error of despair; they are considerably braver than most grownups. Our responsibility to them is not to pretend that if we don’t look, evil will go away, but to give them weapons against it.

One of the greatest weapons of all is laughter, a gift for fun, a sense of play which is sadly missing from the grownup world . . . . Paradox again; to take ourselves seriously enough to take ourselves lightly. If every hair of my head is counted, then in the very scheme of the cosmos I matter; I am created by a power who cares about the sparrow, and the rabbit in the snare, and the people on the crowded streets; who calls the stars by name. And you. And me.

When I remember this it is as though ounds were lifted from me. I can take myself lightly, and share in the laughter . . . .

pp. 98-99.

1 thought on “On Responsibility. Play. Writing. Laughter. ~ Madeleine L’Engle

  1. I love Madeleine L’Engle,and much of what I’ve read of hers has had a profound impact on me. But most of it has been in her fiction and poetry.

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