My friend Sarah sent me this email today, so lovely and just what I needed.
Charlotte Bronte wrote this in her preface to the second edition of Jane Eyre. Her words are a little different, but her spirit is the same. Funny how the wheel never stops turning.
Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and approved me, I turn to another class: a small one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to be overlooked. I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency of such books as Jane Eyre: in whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each protest against bigotry – that parent of crime – an insult to piety, that regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple truths.
Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck the mask from the face of the Pharisee, is not to lift an impious hand to the Crown of Thorns. These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they should not be confounded; appearance should not be mistaken for truth; narrow human doctrines, that only tend to elate and magnify a few, should not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of Christ. There is – I repeat it – a difference; and it is a good, and not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation between them.
The world may not like to see these ideas dissevered, for it has been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make external show pass for sterling worth – to let whitewashed walls vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinize and expose, to raise the gilding and show base metal under it, to penetrate the sepulcher and reveal charnal relics; but hate as it will, it is indebted to him.
Stay strong in the struggle. Fight the good fight.