If you read any religious themed blog, you are likely WELL aware that writer Anne Rice posted on facebook that she has “quit Christianity.” In a surprising move, various Christians proceeded to get angry and vengeful via the written word about her decision.
Some, also uncharacteristically (for those not yet familiar with me, I am employing heavy sarcasm), didn’t read her entire short post or merely didn’t read it carefully enough to see that she clearly states she remains “committed to Christ.” This error inspired bashing and good old fashioned Christian hating. The bashing received new fuel when she later that day explained the decision was prompted by the anti-gay, anti-feminist, etc side of Christianity. To right the wrong she did restate she still loves Jesus, but alas the blog world was lit up like the sprawling Atlanta suburbs sky.
A few brief thoughts on the whole matter:
- The irony alone is hilarious – someone decrees they are done with Christianity due to its judgmental side, and in response tons of Christians rip her decision apart. Did they think they’d win her heart back? Do they realize all they are doing is giving her an even better example of “see exactly what I mean?” to point to?
- More irony, this could actually help Christianity: if outsiders see one of our own denouncing some of the wacky things we’re strongly associated with, it may help them see that not all Christians despise gay marriage, Barak Obama, and one hundred other crusades. It could actually show that some of us are sick of the whole mess too, and that we’re committed to taking our faith to a different place than the fundamentalists. This may even pull the faith forward, instead of backwards (as some have suggested, because it doesn’t look good when a Christian quits the faith).
- Anne could actually grow closer to Jesus this way. Anne is now going it alone, apart from the institution of Christianity, and this newfound simplicity may actually allow her to focus more on Jesus. She is no longer concerned with the various church issues we often get enveloped in, and her attention may now be freed to turn to truly knowing Jesus, and even following him outside of church programs and rituals. Maybe instead of serving a meal at a homeless shelter with her church once a month she will actually befriend a struggling family.
- We have no faith in each other: If God has moved in Anne’s heart in any way, then she likely is well aware that leaving the institution doesn’t mean she should embark totally solo sans contact with anyone trying to follow Jesus. Meaning that a community of some kind is essential for a person of faith – and Anne likely already has one amongst friends, even if they don’t carry a name, budget or website.
- Christianity has fallen far from its roots, and maybe it’s time to leave. Maybe it is better to leave something that is now actually counter-productive. The Mormons believe the Christian church had fallen into spiritual decay and forgotten its original purpose, and I totally agree. Instead of being a community of people loving our world and taking care of needs, most churches gather Sunday mornings to serve themselves. The early church pooled its money to help the poor, whereas we pool our money to buy coffee and build big houses of worship. A community of love of all people now spends the majority of its time fighting against people it disagrees with, and various groups of people are explicitly excluded from ux. It’s a gross perversion, and when you’ve got some people hatin’ and some people lovin’ you’ve got people working from totally polar and contending worldviews. That doesn’t mean I agree the Mormon church has restored the primitive Christian movement. Very related question: at what point do you disassociate from a group because they’ve gotten it so wrong. Extreme example: Westboro Baptist church.
- The church is supposed to be full of really bad people. I understand that Anne is in disbelief at how far off the church is, but the church is a hospital for sinners, as they say. The only problem is that all the patients are schizophrenic and think they’re the doctors doing all the diagnosing. But alas Anne should know that the message of grace flies for all people, and therefore you’re going to get a lot of really wacky characters in that mix. And nonetheless they are all your brethren in some way.
I can totally understand why Anne would say she has to give it all up, I mean things have gotten really bad, and some core beliefs to the church have somehow been twisted 180 degrees. However I also can understand what people have been saying – that these people are your family and it’s best to stay.
I imagine the conversation and controversy around this story will die down, if it already hasn’t. But before it does I wanted to throw in some perspective. Thanks.