As news of Anne Rice’s un-conversion (to Christianity, not Christ) ricochets around the media, I find myself also reflecting on what she has done. And on the larger questions her action raises to my mind about speaking up, staying in, or getting out of the places we belong but find ourselves in disagreement with.
First thoughts, first reaction to reading Rice’s words: admiration. She said:
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.
The next day she added,
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 10 years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
And then she explained further,
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.
(Source for Rice quotes, The Guardian).
I know little about Anne Rice beyond the facts that she is the author of hugely successful vampire novels, turned Christian, turned author of novels about Jesus and a conversion memoir. I have no idea if I need to be cynical about her words or not. What I hear in her statements is a list of refusals I resonate with completely “in the name of Christ” (except for the Democrat one, as I’m Canadian and have no need of either Republican or Democrat), and I hear the word “conscience” and then, in an NPR radio interview, I hear Rice saying this was no quick or easy decision, no flash in the pan, and that it’s “painful.” So I take her at her word, and find myself thinking, “Thankyou! That took courage!”
Second thoughts: more admiration. Continue reading