I never was an Anne Rice fan and only marginally enjoyed Christ the Lord series of books she wrote after converting. But she showed up in my feed reader this morning as she has disavowed Christianity but will continue to follow Christ.
Let’s break it down point by point. 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 sympathize with the perspective that Christianity is quarrelsome and full of disputes. But what group isn’t? It is human nature to conflict, dispute, resolve, and move on to the next conflict. Even Christ himself was constantly in conflict with those around him, so if Rice is looking for a consistent state of nirvana, it ain’t Christ.
Read on for more updates and the responsibility of seeking redemption for flawed human movements.
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.
Well, honestly, if that’s Christianity then I’m not one either, on every single point. Christianity is not monolithic, and every social issue or theological issue has people across the spectrum on it. It did not begin that way, and it has only gotten more spread out over time. There will always be people to disagree with in your club, but you gotta keep your membership card to get the benefits.
Finally, she writes an hour-ish ago before this post.
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
For more reactions, Michael at ThinkChristian.net wonders if this is a reaction to the culture wars: people leaving Christianity due to the conflict and continuing to be “spiritual” but not part of a “religious” movement. And Jim at BoxTurtleBulletin dredges up a status update previously that points closer to why she chose to leave Christianity as a movement:
[Anne Rice’s] embrace of Catholicism was of a personal and spiritual nature, and as is not unusual among Catholics, didn’t extend to social issues…Rice was ultimately unable to reconcile her belief in Christ on the one hand, with the actions of fellow Christians and how those actions have stained the Christian “brand” on the other. She appears to have hinted at this with this post on her facebook page which appeared on Tuesday:
Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian)become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?
Her last point hit me in the gut, not from realization of something but from my long-standing wrestlings with this. The way I see it is that no human movement is without its flaws, even the ones we believe to be divinely driven and sustained. Even the bible is not without its flaws and errors that do not translate 2000 years in the future. The constitution, heralded as the pinnacle of human freedom and collective sustainability, only considered white men to be people.
Maybe that’s why Jesus drew people close to him as a group rather than directing them one-on-one. In our flaws, we find out how to be human together. As a group together, we help those flaws become smoothed out until we are people without wax. Christianity without Christ is folly, but willingly following Christ in solitary does not heed his example either.
It comes down to if you think Christianity is redeemable. If you want it to be redeemed, then stay inside and work for change. If your denomination’s doctrine and policies rub you the wrong way, stay inside and work for change. If you love something, truly love it, then you have to see it as redeemable, and then it is your responsibility to work to redeem it…even if all you do is plant the seeds that someone in the next generation actually gets to bear fruit.
What do you think? Thoughts? Post them in the comments and welcome to the conversation!