Jane Smiley Remembers L'Abri
I do not fear Satan half so much as I fear those who fear him.
Saint Teresa of Avila
From her review in The Nation of Frank Schaeffer's Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back :
In the spring of 1973, I was hitchhiking through Europe with my Marxist husband, and we stopped in Switzerland to visit a friend who was staying at a place called L'Abri. I had never heard of L'Abri (except through my friend), but the setting of the community's chalets--an Alpine hamlet overlooking the Rhone Valley--was beautiful, as was the weather, and as soon as I arrived I noticed an invigorating rejection of all forms of asceticism. Everyone--teachers, students, helpers--was good-looking and well dressed, and the food was delicious. They put us up for two nights and engaged us in conversation for three days. I felt only mildly uncomfortable at first, but then I happened upon an earnest conversation between some quite normal-looking young men about "Satan," in which "Satan" was a being or a person actively attempting to undermine the best efforts of these guys to live a "godly" life. I admit I was shaken. I think I said something on the order of "You've got to be kidding," and when they professed their sincerity, I began to wonder what sort of place I had stumbled into.