Friday, July 30, 2010

Lost, found, lost…found?

Anne Rice The big news on the Intarwebz and on Facebook (at least among those of us who love horror novels) has been Anne Rice's decision to renounce and reject Christianity.

If you've been living in a cave for the past twenty years, Anne Rice is the author of many fine novels, including the Mayfair witches books, and most notably, her vampire chronicles. (Oh, and the Sleeping Beauty novels under a pen name, but that's a story for another day.) Rice's vampires are no sparkly, wimpy vampires; they are complex killers who will tear your throat out as they profess their love of your beauty. They appreciate art and music and are driven to tears by such beauty...but make no mistake, they are as likely to kill you as they are to admire you. They love humanity even as they want to kill it, they treasure it as they destroy it.

The epitome of the Rice vampire is Lestat de Lioncourt, a young Frenchman born to a noble yet destitute family. Lestat is truly a beautiful killer, and as Anne Rice's own story unfolded, it became obvious that Lestat's struggles with good and evil, God and the devil, mirrored her own doubts and struggles about religion.

Rice was born into a Catholic family, but her social views led her away from the church. After several devastating losses (including the death of her husband of several decades), she returned to the church. I followed her on Facebook for a while, but I eventually had to stop. I found her constant contorted efforts to excuse the Catholic church for its centuries of molestation and abuse very unpleasant and hard to stomach. You see, I admire Anne Rice very much. I find her intelligent, interesting, daring, fierce, an incredible writer, and just generally fascinating. (I got my copy of Servant of the Bones signed by her back in 1996!) I had a really hard time seeing someone that I admire so much try to justify such abuses by the Catholic church; it was almost as if I were watching a friend struggle to make excuses for something she had to know was wrong. It hurt me to see her in such a state. It hurt me to see her go against what I know she knew was wrong, because it was required of her by the Catholic church. She never condoned the abuse, and in fact spoke out against it. But she still adhered to her Catholicism. I had to wonder how such an intelligent person could continue to be subject to such a corrupt institution.

This week, she renounced Christianity. She wrote on 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.

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.

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. 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.

I very much empathize with Ms. Rice. I have gone through my own struggles with faith; raised in the church, dealing with various issues in life and with those who would force me to believe the way they do, rejection, a semi-reconciliation to some sort of spirituality...I eventually came to the logical conclusion for me. It has not been an easy path, and I understand her dilemma and why she was driven to find solace in some sort of faith. It is not my place to disabuse anyone of their faith, at least if they don't ask my opinion on it. (You won't see atheists knocking on people's doors trying to convert them, believe me.) It is never easy for anyone who struggles with justice and equality and the inconsistencies of what some insist is the literal word of God, not to mention family members who would never accept such heretical thinking.

We all have our own path we must navigate. Faith or lack thereof is a very personal decision, and I know all too well that it can be a very rocky path, indeed. I suspect that Ms. Rice is still finding her way. We all are, because our journey doesn't end until we do. I wish her safe travels, and I applaud her for standing true to her convictions concerning societal justice rather than falling into the party line. I hope she continues to question and explore, as we all should. I hope she can eventually look at things from a scientific and rational viewpoint and perhaps change her views even further.

Having said all that...Welcome back, Anne! I missed you!


  1. I would imagine that as compassionate and grounded people observe what is happening in Christianity, she will certainly not be the last.

  2. Very good, I also do not really feel church is for me. I have a hard time believing in a "Loving God" who will send people to eternal damnation because they do not do this or that. What about people who live in countries where they are raised Buddist or Islamic or a myriad of different religions out there. Are they all doomed to the pit of fire because they don't believe in our Christ? I would no more believe in Buddha then they would believe in Jesus, what if Buddha is the real way to salvation? Does that mean I am doomed to eternal damnation?

  3. For another example look at those kooks who belong to that church (Westboro baptist) that demonstrate at soldier's funerals! They have the nerve to say the soldiers died because God hates them! Wow, I need to blog on this myself.. :)

  4. I find it interesting that she keeps her faith in a creator and in Christ, but has renounced Christendom, or, in effect, "false" religion. I believe more people will be doing so as time goes on, and as things get worse in this old world.

  5. I read about that and understand her struggle. Some churches do good things for the right reasons and help others without trying to convert them but because it's the right thing to do. Too many of them are not like that. I wouldn't change the way I live my life if there really were a Heaven and Hell or a God or not. My morality isn't based on fear or from what a minister tells me to do.

  6. i'm with joy. i don't need to be browbeat into doing what is 'right', nor do i fear doing 'wrong' things based on the subjective judgment of what others think *may* happen....

    most people know what the right thing is, they chose to not comply because sometimes doing the right thing is uncomfortable if not painful. the people who truly don't know are sociopaths and will always do what they can for their own maximum benefit. now the gears are turning and i wonder how many sociopaths are masking as 'the religious'?????

    bottom line i dont need to follow anyone to know what's what.


  7. There is a great deal of space between Christianity and being a Christian.
    One requires belonging to a group of one mind, and the other reqiuires the use of one's own mind.

  8. Bob touched on it and I will go even further. There is no connection between Christianity or Truth and the practices of religionists. First of all anyone who believes that the Bible is the literal word of God and not the struggles to explain the unexplainable by sanctified men and women is one who believes he can walk on clouds because they look substantial. Secondly organized religion implies a human system and not a divine one. That, fanaticism, extremism, intolerance and persecution are among the greatest evils affecting the world. Thirdly any religion or religious faith which is not bsed on Science is nothing but a bag full of holes. People who are unable to disassociate themselves from their own visions and dreams and carry out acts of hatred and destruction to themselves or others through what they are convinced is the word of God are unfortunate mental cripples. Churches, religions and the faith of honest believers should be healing those people, not excusing them.

  9. It's too bad Rice finally gave up the fight and let others, the most vocal and least informed, define Christianity and chase her off. The Republicans seem to have done the same thing in allowing some of the same people to define their party and its agenda. That mob will want my country next.

  10. I had a really hard time seeing someone that I admire so much try to justify such abuses by the Catholic church; it was almost as if I were watching a friend struggle to make excuses for something she had to know was wrong.

    Or any of the major theistic faiths. They are almost all hypocritical to a fault and because of that, they simply 'do not compute' in my brain.

    I don't have a problem with being agnostic. To admit that you don't know something is infintely more modest by staking a claim that you are 'touched' by a spirit of all creation and that you alone have this special link.

    Even to say that you follow Christ is a bit of a cop out. I won't lie and say that there have not been moments where I find myself wondering about a 'prescence' in the world... then I hear about some senseless slaughter in a third world country or some sort of environmental malfesence that was totally preventable save for the greed of a few men. My momentary lapse is then overcome and I get back to trying to figure how I can contribute with my individual experience to the world.

    Normally, I don't care much for people and their choices in faith but I do get a wee bit testy at 'I follow Christ' thing. That is a hedge against hellfire. To me, it does seem logical that there is 'something' going on above and beyond our perception, just as we go on above and beyond the perception of most of the creatures in the sea, only impacting on their lives in a crisis. I wonder if there is any species swimming around wondering if 'the end is nigh?' because of the Gulf and what went down in China?? Our interactions in their lives has striking similiarites to how some would believe that a diety acts in the lives of men.

    Anywho, I am rambling. Anne is confused, frustrated and maybe a little scared. If there is anywhere else to go after this, I will see everyone on the other side, drinking coffee and eating cake with Phylis Schafly, Mother Teresa, Genghis Khan, and Joan of Arc!

  11. I'm with DB.

    I was born and raised Catholic. I don't always go to church anymore but I do still pray for others. I don't need my religion to tell me how to feel and what to do. I'm a big girl now and I know right from wrong.

  12. I friended her on facebook after this and said "welcome back!"

  13. Beth, like you, I love her work. I was disappointed when she embraced the church few years back; I was sure she would just be disappointed. I'm happy that she is content and that she feels that she is on the right spiritual path for herself. That's really all anyone could ask for.

    Many Christians don't act very Christ like and half the time most churches don't act very Christ like either. If they did, oh what a world we would have.


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