Anne Rice leaves Christianity - should we follow her?

Because it's a question I have asked myself more than once.  Many of my close friends and loved ones have asked the same, and they have come to different conclusions than I.

CNN's Marquee Blog reports:
Anne Rice leaves Christianity

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled "Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession" in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian ... 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.”
Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me," Rice wrote. "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.” 
Her words are so true, and her convictions so close to my own.  “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist," “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”  I don't want to be those, either.  Rice's additional statement provides clarification that a LOT of us can relate to.  And I agree that following Christ does not mean following his followers.
 
For me, I'm not entirely sure it's any easier, or any better, outside of organized religion.  There are fundamentalists everywhere: atheist fundamentalists, liberal fundamentalists, green fundamentalists, home-schooling fundamentalists, patriot fundamentalists, and there are all sorts of conservative fundmentalists that don't need religion to justify their worldview. 
 
My greatest disappointment (and honestly, my greatest confusion) in life is that Christianity is not something better than it has been.  If Jesus was who I believe he was - if God is who I believe God is (you can find posts on these questions elsewhere on this site) - then Christianity should be so much further along after 2,000 years... shouldn't it?  I mean, we're all human, so there's nothing that should be surprising about the sad state of Christianity.  But don't we believe that our faith is fueled by more than human efforts?  There is a lot I am unsure of, but I at least believe God is active in the universe.
 
Well, at the very least, I don't believe constructs and institutions can be changed from the outside without violence.  So some of us have to keep praying and striving from within, in solidarity and relationship with the folks who frustrate us most (often ourselves). 
 
I'm not ready to follow Anne Rice out the door, but I sure understand where she's coming from.
 
 

8 comments:

Jesse Turri said...

Peter,

I love Anne Rice! I too echo many of her sentiments. As for your thoughts on the excplicit contradiction that is the Chruch, I have had those thought rolling around in my head for a long time. I posted a few thoughts over on my blog about it:

http://jesseturri.com/wordpress/?p=1770

I love contridictions ;)

love,
Jesse

Jess Richter said...

Amen. I was just thinking about this on my run this morning. If God is love then why do Christians hate so much? I still have a hard time admitting to my Christian friends that I've left the church. I don't want them to hate on me or spit Bible verses in my face. The last person I saw from the church I used to go to literally yelled across the grocery store "you still saved!?" Seriously, where is the love? Just because I don't worship with the ranks on Sunday morning doesn't mean I've abandoned faith. Just corporate religion. And maybe just for now.

Brent said...

I've thought long and hard about it and I'm leaving the white race. I've had it with all this white guilt and racism that the people with the same skin color as me spew. I don't want to be associated with them anymore... come on this is hypocritical bullshit!

My Christian bothers are messed up like we all are but I'm still going to except them and forgive them. Maybe their maturity in the faith is childish but lets gently lead them into a better understanding if we believe we are their leaders.

Pete, you have to stop abating this dividing talk and start some healing.

Here's the thing if you want to bring any two groups or single group together they need a mutual interest. If that mutual interest is following God as we know Him through Jesus Christ it shouldn't be that hard. Loving God with all your heart and Loving your neighbor as yourself is the way it starts. Loving ALL the people even those who hold more fundamental believe that you. The love is what brings all of us together despite our views of the specifics. Yes, it could be said these fundamentalist you speak of lack love, but that doesn't change the love that you can have for them. I know you do love all these faceless people you rant about, but If we speak of either group divisively we divide the single group into two. Pitting one against the other. If you want to bring them together expound on their common interest.

With that said, if anybody is being legalistic then I will have a problem with that, no matter what their believes are. I don't want anyone under that truth-less thinking. But then I would try to point out the lie in the thinking with humility, knowing I don't have all the answers.

If Anne doesn't want these fundamentalist bastard then give them to me! The kingdom I know will gladly take them. And if there are any fundamentalist reading this, I will gladly welcome any homosexuals also, because the kingdom I know will gladly rejoice for their presence!

Love you Pete, hope you guys are doing well! :)

Al said...

Good luck, Brent! It's hard to try to bring fundamentalists into agreement with themselves, let alone the rest of us! After all, when you already have it all figured out, your prime directive is to straighten everyone else out. I really don't know if there is healing for that kind of prevalent, "I know the truth, period" attitude.

We can only hope that those who celebrated Ms. Rice's conversion also celebrate the challenges she has confronted, and how she has chosen to respond. I kinda doubt if there will be too many sermons about "this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group."

I really like her "But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.” This is so true.

I'm not sure why the church hasn't moved any farther in the last 2000 years either, Pete. Perhaps every time we manage to figure something out, we camp on it forever, never being willing to keep learning, keep asking the hard questions, keep growing.

It probably will take both groups--those who are trying to foment change from within, and those who are trying to so from the outside. Meanwhile, God still loves us all. Go figure!

Peter J Walker said...

@ Jesse, thanks for the link. I WANT to believe the heart of that post: that we are exactly what we are supposed to be. But I'm afraid that the church is too systematically engaged in self-validation, which has nothing to do with the kingdom. I agree the church is and will always be imperfect. But there is a difference between being imperfect, and being a disaster. I'm in no position to judge, but this is where I'm communicating my disappointment and confusion from.

@ Jess, thank you for the visit. I think getting a little distance is sometimes the only way to regain perspective. I have friends like yours, and I was often one of them - calling "still saved" from across the store. I think faith can still be pursued outside the structure of the church - but I still have enough hope to keep working at an ongoing relationship.

@ Brent, I find your comments distasteful. I care about you too, but you habitually drop into this blog, drop bombs about things you're offended by, and end with a happy face. We share faith, but we do not share worldview, and we are not going to agree on much. You're not obligated to read here.

@ Al, I agree that God loves us all, and it's going to take efforts on multiple fronts to heal and grow the Body of Christ. I hope that the last 2,000 years are just the "toddler" stage of a church with a long life ahead of it (and a lot of growing up...). Maybe these are just the "terrible twos."

Brent said...

I’m not offended. I find being “offended” is a manipulative maneuver taken by someone who positions himself as a victim in order to gain power over others. It utilizes weakness as its power and is only effective on people who don’t realize their sympathies and concern our being turn into controlling forces over them. Being “offended” is not the true essence of weakness, but uses weakness as its tool to manipulate its own selfish desires. So, I was not offended, I was just voicing my opinion that it’s unhelpful to always be thinking and write on the negatives of our faith.

The thing is, I struggle with the label of “Christian” because it can mean so many divergent things to different people and many of those things I don't agree with. As a linguistic symbol to explain my experience with God it does a poor job, because everybody is using the same symbol to point to their own definition. But even though I don't like that there is no better definition of my faith in our language, I think the best definition I can give people is to live out loving all those around me, both believers and non. For those I come in contact with in my life, maybe I can help move them towards God with whatever amount of love I'm capable of giving. I desire to act in love without selfish ambition but, I know I don't always. I also know other Christians don’t always act as lovingly as they want to or should be capable of. But if all I ever do is go around talking about how Christians our failing to live the “right” way, I alienate any ability to draw anybody in except those who hold my specific view. Think of it in term of marriage, if all I do the majority of the time is publicly talk about how my wife/husband does not love in the right way I will damage our relationship. I isolate what may be a truth, but it’s a smaller part of the story and talking about it publicly only serves to make others not like her. What others will take from my public expounding is she is unloving. Then my audience will either be think ill of her or that I do not love her. And if there is anybody who didn’t like her before, it will only confirm their opinion and not move them to see that she does love, but not perfectly. The wider truth is she doesn’t always make loving decision, but she has a good heart and does make good decisions most the time. What I need to do is ask myself why do I feel a need to publicly talk about her faults most of the time? Why do I not tell others of the great things she does? The label “Christian,” is divergent in definition but most agree it’s about loving God and loving your neighbor as yourself. I don’t agree with other Christians on certain things, but I think if we start with loving everybody by saying positive things about each other we can draw outsiders into God’s love. I can’t change what most people think of Christianity but maybe my living definition can change some of those I have relationships with. I can’t change the definition of Christianity by talking about it; I can only change it by living it out.

Pete, I smile because I like that we can disagree but still love one another.

APG said...

.

If I could meet her in person, I would
love to say "Thank you Anne Rice –
for so very articulately stating what
I have felt in my heart for years" !!!!

One's 'Faith-in-Christ’ should IN NO WAY
be tied into the man-controlled 'Religion'
that so many refer to as "Christianity"
(especially that apostate, psuedo-religious
political-movement called 'evangelicalism')

It took me forever to realize that my
relationship with God (as established
through Christ Jesus, God The Son) was
IN NO WAY dependent on the apostate
psuedo-religious movement sweeping
America in the name of the "church".

If Christ were walking the earth today,
a lot of these same "religious" types
would be the first to demand that He
be 'crucified' -- and based merely on
who He chose as FRIENDS (women,
gays, foreigners, immigrants, the poor,
the rejected, the downtrodden, the rich,
men, old, young, happy, sad, and so on).

The "evangelicals" (not to be mistaken
for TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ) and
other "church" types have essentially
hijacked the Christian 'Faith' in order to
turn it into a mammon-worshipping,
power-mongering, "Religion" of hate.

These people are more akin to a system of
ANTI-CHRIST (i.e. “against”-Christ) than
to anything tied into WHO CHRIST IS.

Their evil has reached such profound levels
that even people who know and love Christ
are turned off from them and their words
(again proving these “church” types are
really nothing more than anti-Christ,
self-righteous Pharisees and are not
even remotely related to Jesus Christ).

Never again will I waste my time stepping
into the psuedo-religious social-club that
is known as "church" or associate myself
with the political-clique that is known as
'christianity' -- because FROM NOW ON
-- I realize that I do NOT "need" either
in order to have a relationship with MY
LORD JESUS CHRIST (in fact, those
two entities were actually 'interfering'
with my relationship with God)

THROUGH CHRIST -- GOD HAS OPENLY
EXPRESSED HIS LOVE TO 'EVERYONE'
(no matter if rich, poor, gay, straight, male,
female, sickly, healthy and so on) -- AND
CHRIST (not the so-called"church") IS
'THE DOOR' and 'THE WAY' TO GOD!!

ALL ARE WELCOME TO APPROACH AND
TO ENTER THROUGH 'THE DOOR' TO GOD!!

NO ONE IS REJECTED BY JESUS CHRIST !!!

JESUS LOVED AND LOVES EVERYONE !!!

LET’S ALL TRY TO REMEMBER
THE BIBLE VERSE OF ‘JOHN 3:17’:

“For God did NOT send His Son
into the world – to condemn
the world, BUT that the world,
THROUGH HIM, might be SAVED !!!!”

JESUS CHIST – and *not* the institution known
as “the church” or the religion called “christianity”
--- IS THE WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE!!!

LIKE MANY OTHER PEOPLE – I AM DONE
WITH THE CHURCH & WITH CHRISTIANITY
-- AND FROM HERE ON OUT – MY FOCUS IS
ON (AND FAITH IN GOD RELIES IN) JESUS
CHRIST AND JESUS CHRIST ALONE !!!

.

Peter J Walker said...

APG,
Thanks so much for sharing here. I'm so sorry for the frustration and hurt you've felt from the church. I completely understand.

I'm not sure that there's hope for the institutional church (I don't have a high enough vantage to see) but I believe there's hope for the Body of Christ (whatever/however that is) and I'm going to keep trying to engage from the inside. That said, I validate your rejection of the church: you can absolutely follow Christ outside the institution.

Thanks again for the visit.
God bless,
Peter

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