Thursday, 19 April 2012
[This is reposted as part of our Best-Of Revelife Week. It was originally posted on August 1, 2010.]
Anne Rice, the novelist most known for her Vampire Chronicles – including Interview with the Vampire, The Vampire Lestat, and The Queen of the Damned – announced this week on her Facebook page that she no longer wanted to be considered a follower of Christianity.
“For those who care,” Rice wrote on Wednesday, “and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out.” Rice went on to explain, “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 was raised Catholic and attended Catholic school as a child, but sometime in her early adult life, she became a self-described atheist. During this time, she began penning her famous novels and even wrote a few erotic stories under a pseudonym.
However, serious health conditions and a brush with death brought Rice back to the Catholic faith in 1998, albeit with some reservations. In a 2004 Newsweek article, Rice announced that all her future works would be about God and faith. Her most recent novel, Angel Time, is the first in a series of Christian fiction called Songs of the Seraphim.
Despite her current desire to remove Christianity from her life, she certainly has no intention of removing Christ from her life. In another Facebook update, Rice explained her focus on faith:
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.
Rice summarizes her feelings on Christianity in a short, almost prayer-like response:
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.
Deep down, all of us probably have something we dislike about Christianity. Perhaps it's those, like the members of Westboro Baptist Church, who make the term Christian synonymous with hate-mongering and condemnation. Perhaps it's your father or mother, whose response to everything is a cliché, “Just give it up to God!” Perhaps you feel, like Rice does, that Christianity boils down to a bunch of antagonistic sentiment with a whole lot of restrictions and not a lot of open-mindedness.
Whether it's the dumb Christian t-shirts, the annoying Christian pop music, or the politically charged nature of many vocal Christians, there's always going to be something you dislike about Christianity. But these things do not describe the whole of Christianity, and many people who call themselves followers of Christ are just as capable of doing unlikeable things in Jesus' name. The bottom line is that we're all sinners, all broken vessels in need of a potter.
So what are we to do? I don't have the answer. If I had a direct line to heaven, I'd call Jesus up and ask Him what He thinks. But until I get my two minutes with Jesus, I have to go with my gut instinct: I love you regardless of the name you put on your faith in Christ. That goes for you, too, Mrs. Rice.
Do you have to be a Christian to be a follower of Christ? Do you, like Anne Rice, follow Christ but quit Christianity? What can Christianity do to be more inclusive of diverse opinions? Does it need to be inclusive?