Anne Rice quits Christianity
Anne Rice offers up some bizarre reasoning for quitting her faith:
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.
One wonders how one quits Christianity in the name of Christ. The only good reason to actually leave one’s Christian faith would be if one were to quit believing that Christ was the Son of God. Culture war issues, feminism – the tawdry politics of our day to day lives – these are not good reasons, or even really reasons at all, to stop being Christian. There are countless Christian denominations which are not evangelical or conservative or politically active. Rod Dreher writes:
I’m sorry, but this is weak, and makes me wonder what really happened. Surely a woman of her age and experience cannot possibly believe that the entirety of Christianity, current and past, can be reduced to the cultural politics of the United States of America in the 21st century. Does she really know no liberal Christians? Has she never picked up a copy of Commonweal? Does she really think that if she asked a Christian on the streets of Nairobi or Tegucigalpa what they, as Christians, thought of Nancy Pelosi, they would have the slightest idea what she was talking about? And Christianity, anti-science? Good grief. Has she not noticed that Catholic Church, to which she did belong until yesterday, has affirmed evolution, and embraces science? How can a woman of her putative sophistication really think that Christianity is nothing more than a section of the Republican Party at prayer?
Andrew Sullivan agrees but thinks Christianism is to blame.
Rice left her Vampire novels behind her when she returned to Catholicism and wrote a pair of fictional biographies of Christ. Then, in 2008, she wrote a memoir – Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession – explaining her return to her faith after years of spiritual wandering. Now, just a couple years later, she’s so troubled by the sexual abuse scandals in the Church – scandals which aren’t exactly new or post-2008 at any rate – that she can no longer believe in Christ? She’s so troubled by the anti-gay elements in Christianity that she can no longer believe that Jesus Christ is her savior? She should talk to all the gay Christians out there.
This just seems horribly superficial to me. I suppose it’s possible that Rice never really understood her faith to begin with. I suppose when politics and the culture ware become everything – including how we’re received in our various social scenes – then God really does become little more than a piece of clothing, worn for a bit until it goes out of fashion, then easily discarded.
Certainly Christians can be terrible Christians. Certainly I disagree with much of what is said and done in the name of Christianity. Certainly I get a knot in my stomach every time the Catholic hierarchy bungles yet another sexual abuse crisis, and the more revelations of how un-Christian so many priests and pastors and others have been while peddling the words of Christianity the more angry and saddened I become over the whole state of affairs. But then I go to mass and everything is different. There are no politics. There is no divisive language, no hell and brimstone, none of this. There is the message of love and redemption and community and charity that drew me back to Christianity in the first place.
It seems to me Rice isn’t doing this in the name of Christ at all. It seems she’s given up on Him altogether. And if that’s the case, then why dress it up in the language of politics? Why kick sand in the eyes of all those Christians who are pro-science, pro-gay rights, pro-feminism, pro birth-control?
Everyone has moments, has their own crisis of faith. It’s always sad to me when that crisis is too great, the struggle too much, for someone to overcome.
The Anchoress has some worthwhile thoughts on all of this.
In response to some of the comments here…
Obviously being Christian doesn’t make you any better or more moral or any of that garbage. Being Christian means you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. And then hopefully you take that ball and run with it and do good works and all that jazz. But it isn’t really about what you’re for or against. Being non-Christian won’t make you more pro-gay or more pro-science, either. That’s a historical accident. If you were Christian or non-Christian two hundred years ago, it wouldn’t matter: you’d be anti-gay marriage. Likewise, some of the fiercest advocates of the abolition of slavery were religious zealots. In fifty or a hundred years we may not even be talking about gay rights any more (I hope gays will have 100% equal rights with straights and I hope it happens sooner than that!), but the questions of faith – the question of whether or not one believes, in this instance, in the divinity of Christ – will be questions that remains. The rest is transitory, the day’s politics, the day’s culture wars. Conflating one with the other seems to miss the deeper questions altogether.
Also, thanks to Anne Rice for stopping by!
Some commenters seem to think that I’m angry at Anne Rice for quitting Christianity. This couldn’t be further from the truth. I really don’t care what people do with their own faith. However, I find it baffling that someone could at once follow Christ, believe He is the Son of God, savior, Messiah, etc. and consider themselves non-Christian. I can see how someone would quit going to church and do this; quit following any particular denomination and do this; but I can’t reconcile the idea that you can be both a follower of Christ and not a Christian unless you’re tacking on some extra beliefs that don’t jibe with Christianity’s basic tenets – though I promise not to get into the Mormonism debate. So. That’s my confusion in a nutshell.