She writes today:
July 27: 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.
July 27: 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.
July 28: 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 C...hristianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.
My posts about quitting Christianity have brought in a lot of mail. Most of it is positive; a small amount is negative. But one thing is clear: people care passionately about belief. They care about living lives of meaning and significance. And that is a beautiful and reassuring thing. I'll have more on the subject in... the future.One of the scariest books I've ever read was Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice. Therefore I was astonished when she became a follower of Christ (much of it influenced by N.T. Wrights writings, by the way) and rejoined the Roman Catholic Church. Now she has stepped away from Catholicism and it appears, organized Christian religion in general, though she continues to post excellent scriptures on her Facebook page. She apparently is a liberal Democrat and cannot reconcile her personal political beliefs with the Christianity she sees in the Roman Catholic Church and other organized Christian faith groups.
As Kerouac might say, she's on the road.
It is clear that Anne Rice has been let down and let down in a big way. Before we dismiss her outright for flipping theologically and morally out, it may be important to pause and consider - and consider seriously - why does she feel let down? Why does she write, "Following Christ does not mean following His followers?"
It is fairly simple to move away from Jesus being Lord to the Church being lord. It can happen in the most organized of ways and it can happen in quite subtle ways. It can happen very quickly. The first two commandments are doozies, no other gods but God - and no substitutes either. To swap the Church (and that means the followers of Jesus) for Jesus Himself spells disaster. It spells not only some of greatest catastrophes in history, but also personal disillusionment and the loss of faith. I think of Christopher Hitchens.
Many more are walking wounded.
What I hear in Anne Rice's lament is her bewilderment at the lack of love in caring for those on the margins of our society. While I disagree with the political methods of progressive innovations, it cannot be said that the Church (Roman, Anglican, Orthodox, Protestant) is a stellar witness of radical hospitality for those left smashed one way or the other. The progressive view has been basically to give the world bread and circuses, to give the brokenhearted what they want and, perhaps with the best of intentions, call it all good. However, even Dylan calls that one on the carpet in a recent composition, It's All Good. It seems like the nice thing to do - to give people what they think will make them happy and certainly Anne Rice has embraced that view. If everyone would just be nicer, it wouldn't be so hard to be a Christian.
But on the other hand, she does make a point. "Christians" are suffering from more than just a PR crisis that hiring a flak will cure. There is actually a problem and it's a big one. We can't simply point at someone else and say it's your fault. The fault lies no where else except at our own personal feet.
Jesus summed up the Law of Moses in two commandments - Love God and Love your neighbor. Loving God means making God first in our life and that has a radical impact on our lifestyle - it is a searing of the heart.
And then, just in case we think it's all just about "me and God," Jesus reminds us of the second most important point - to love our neighbor and what does that really mean? Does it mean giving people what they want? Perhaps sometimes. Even God gives us what we want sometimes and calls it free will - but He doesn't leave us there.
I am reminded of Jesus at the well - there in the middle of the day when the woman of less than stellar reputation comes to get water and Jesus asks her to get him a drink. What a moment. What an extraordinary moment. He does tell her the truth - the very hard truth. But how he does it - how she is set free and not condemned completely and radically changes her life that she becomes for all intensive purposed the first Christian evangelist.
Here is a modern interpretation of the woman at the well:
Perhaps we should just pause there for a moment.