Friday, July 30, 2010

Anne Rice Leaves the Church

Scot McKnight, whose blog I have frequented for years now, has posted an interesting article.

Anne Rice Quits...
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.
So, apparently she's "out." But is that her choice? Indeed, did she decide to be part of the church in the first place? Did she die on the cross for herself?

You know, it's too bad... Because not all churches are as she describes them-- "anti-gay, anti-feminist, etc." But actually, therein amongst the quarrels and the chaos lies the beauty of the church--we are one with a community of people with whom, if we were left to our own devices, we would not choose to be one.

While I believe that we are, in essence, stuck we each other, I do still believe that you can find expressions of church that are quite alternative to the mainstream church that Rice is apparently leaving. These expressions, though bound to be filled with their own problems, are available and I always feel down when I hear that someone is leaving the church altogether without giving another expression a shot. But, then again, there's something wholly consumeristic about the whole thing. "Church shop" until you find the right one... then tap a different market if you don't find it. We mirror the horrors of our culture.

That's where forgiveness and the willingness to be hurt for your community comes into play. The parable of the unforgiving servant comes to mind (read it here)...

When we lose sight of the gift of it all... that we have been invited by Christ to be part of his body, to share in his suffering, to commune with fellow servants (even if they're flawed and we think they owe us something) then we're bound to refuse the same mercy to others. It is by God's grace that we have been accepted by him, now we must accept others out of the gratitude of our hearts. But we have to remember the gift and to see it as such. I wish I could cite the quote, but I have heard Stanley Hauerwas quoted as saying, "stay with the church that hurt you."

I think I can say that I understand where Rice is coming from. Hell, I too "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." But I do this while extending the same mercy that was extended to me, even to those with whom I so strongly disagree.

5 comments:

danny said...

I don't know this woman and I haven't read any of her books, but it seems like she could join any number of churches which are all of the things she wants. The highest on my list would be the UCC or the Episcopal church. I wish I knew more about the situation to comment more thoughtfully, but those are just the first thoughts that come to my mind.

WES ELLIS said...

Yeah, the UCC actually started a campaign on Facebook called something like, "Anne Rice would like the UCC. Funny, huh?

lozeerose said...

Actually, this is quite sad for several reasons. The first is you, Wes, were on point until you began to agree with her "refus[ing] to be" list. The second is that your point about "church shopping" is also on point, yet you don't see the irony in the fact that Protestant churches are one of the major causes of this "shopping" - they deny the unity of the Body of Christ (one holy catholic and apostolic Church). Lastly, you joke about the UCC being the place for her (again, irony of church shopping) but from what I understand about the UCC, it is so biblically off base that it isn't a place for any Christian.

You keep searching for "whatever is good" but what is Truth, is Good, is Love and is Real can be found at your nearby Catholic parish - especially if they have Eucharistic Adoration.

WES ELLIS said...

Lozeerose,
I appreciate the catholic sales pitch and you're right that Protestantism is much to blame for some of the issues you mentioned. And once again I appreciate your perspective, though it is obviously different from mine. Indeed, as I've mentioned before, I am a fan of the Catholic church and am sympathetic to much if its theology. But you don't seem to appreciate my appreciation. I do affirm the "one,holy, catholic and apostolic church"--the body of Christ. You seem to be oversimplfying both catholicism and Protestantism. Both have their problems and both are expressions of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic body of Christ. It's just too bad that there has been so much disagreement throughout the years.

Thanks for the comment.

Simon said...

How many people have left the church because they've butt their heads against these types of attitudes time and time again? Sometimes it is individual people that drive people away, more often, perhaps, it's just the system of institutionalised church, so caught up in its own history and tradition (and unwilling to even try and understand why it beleives and behaves the way it does), that just continually turn people off. I've yet to meet a person who has left the church because they are p****d off at God - they get p****d off at people and at the church system. How amazing would it be if all those who have left the church, but not their faith, could be drawn back into a healthy, loving community of believers? I pray for days like that!!!