Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Interview With A Vamp... err, Former Christian

I am probably the last person who should comment in any detail about author Anne Rice's announcement that she is no longer a Christian. The following is from her Facebook page:
“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.

As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

The only book of hers I've read is her spiritual autobiography, Called Out of Darkness... and here's how I reviewed it on Goodreads:
I've never read an Anne Rice novel. (I did collect the Interview w/a Vampire comics for a while, but that was a long time ago.) So I don't come to this spiritual memoir as a fan.

I'm not a Roman Catholic, either... though the book is about a person's journey from Catholic faith to atheism & back to Catholicism.

So my review/response to this book is colored by these things.

Here's the bullet points:
  • the structure of the book is rambling... and that's being charitable. While individual passages are brilliantly written, they're set in a rickety framework that feels like it is threatening to collapse at any moment.
  • it's very interesting to watch spiritual conversion inside another "branch" of Christianity. The emotional content & the basic theology is similar; the trappings & traditions are unfamiliar (esp. to a kid who grew up inside a conservative evangelical Protestant church.)
  • the last chapter of the book (her "suggestion" about rewriting Catholic doctrine about marriage & sexuality) feels tacked on.
In closing: interesting read at times that suffers from shoddy editing.
If you didn't know a little about her life, this is her second time to leave the Church/Christianity - the book focuses on how she returned to the RC Church after loving it as a child & leaving it in her teen years.

Beyond that, I don't have much to say - but there a couple of folks that I respect that have done a nice job responding to this pronouncement with humor & grace:

Jon Acuff on his blog Stuff Christians Like: Reacting To Anne Rice
Yowsa! I’m not sure she could have received more heat if she had said, “My next book is going to be about Harry Potter using a Golden Compass to figure out the DaVinci Code.”...

So why weren’t more people upset that Anne Rice said, “I refuse to be Anti-Democrat?”... To say you have to renounce Christianity to be a Democrat seems as extreme of a stance as the girls who said they couldn’t date me in college because they were dating God. All I wanted was a blooming onion from The Outback, I’m not sure we needed Yahweh involved in that.
Justin McRoberts on his blog: Open Letter to Anne Rice
But I take issue with the notion that you must disassociate yourself from ‘christian’ people. I mean sure, we’re a motley lot. Belonging to this family can often feel like you’ve adopted a few thousand drunk uncles. It’s incredibly embarrassing at times and frustrating at least as often. I get it. But I also read that you’re making your move “in the name of Christ” and that presents a rather perplexing dilemma for someone who wants to quit on people. You see, Christ hasn’t quit on us and if you choose to align yourself with Him, then neither can you...

It’s simply reasonable that if you set yourself against people who set themselves against people you are only adding to the friction. If part of your issue with christianity is it’s exclusivity, you aren’t helping by only including those who “get it” the way you do. True christian inclusivity means embracing the homosexual and the gay-basher in the same embrace; working for the release of the oppressed while praying and working for the redemption of their oppressor; loving the beautiful game of baseball and yet, somehow, also loving the Yankees. It means loving the Lord with all of yourself and also loving those who grossly misrepresent Him.
Follow the links & read what these guys have to say - it's worth your time.

1 comment:

Luke Holzmann said...

Thanks for sharing! I'd heard about her statement, but I hadn't read anything on it yet...