Monday, 9 August 2010

Leaving Christianity - I know how she feels!

"Twelve years after she converted from atheism, [Anne Rice] author of Interview with the Vampire abandons Christianity over its attitude to birth control, homosexuality and science" (The Guardian) Read More HERE

This has really got me thinking - No I am not about to do likewise but I do know how she feels - So much that is done and said in the name of Christianity leaves me despairing.  Rice does draw the important distinction between Christ and Christianity and declares herself still a follower of Christ but she sees the institution as all too often an obstacle rather than a vehicle of redemption.

Others have said the same before her including Dan Kimball whose bestselling "They like Jesus but not the Church" tells the stories of many people who have found the hypocrisy of the Institution impossible to reconcile with the person of Jesus Christ.

In some ways this is not unrelated to the ongoing Religion vs Spirituality debate which seeks to purify faith of its various material incarnations in a quest for pure Spirituality. Of course such is impossible for us to achieve, as all of our experiences are mediated and thus shaped and interpreted by the medium of that experience. However does this mean they must be so distorted as to render them unrecognisable from that which gave birth to them?

It will be interesting to see where Anne Rice's journey will take her. It is early days and far too soon to judge but I hope that she will continue to challenge 'Christianity' from without as she has from within. Hers is a valid critique and she should not be dismissed just because she has 'left'! It could be argued after all that what she has left is not the totality of Christianity but rather a distorted and pale imitation thereof.

Someone who faced similar issues was Barbara Brown Taylor, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church of the United States of America (ECUSA / TEC) who though never formally renouncing 'Christianity' did leave parish ministry and in so doing experienced a liberation and a new lease of life while remaining a priest in good standing with her church. I reviewed her book 'Leaving Church'  in an earlier blog post and I found it the singularly most helpful book I have ever read in seeking to understand and deal with the tensions of being an ordained priest/minister. Read the review HERE

To end on an encouraging note a supporter of Anne Rice's has posted this video as a reply to some of the more negative and vitriolic responses to her 'leaving Christianity'

The following is a message from the video's author/creator:
In support of Anne Rice, and a host of other people who haven't stopped loving God but are having trouble fitting in with the church (aka organized religion). This is my official video response to the video "Anne Rice Rejects Christ Goes to HELL" posted by stopgoing2hell.

Regarding the song playing in the background, it is Bride Song by Brian Healey / Dead Artist Syndrome. Here are the lyrics:

Jesus, I love you, but don't understand your wife,
She wears such funny make-up, and she always wants to fight,
Every time I turn my back she's waiting with a knife,
In my world of black and gray she argues shades of white.

Jesus, I love you, but I don't understand your wife,
She wears such funny make-up, and she always wants to fight,
Jesus, I love you, but I don't understand your wife,
She wears such funny make-up, and she always wants to fight.

She loves capital punishment, and nuclear arms,
Then screams about the right to life and the Grand Old Party's charms,
She's always burning bridges, even ones she's standing on,
When I try to tell her, she says, "to you, I don't belong."

Jesus, I love you, but I don't understand your wife,
She wears such funny make-up, and she always wants to fight,
Jesus, I love you, but I don't understand your wife,
She wears such funny make-up, and she always wants to fight.

You're always hearing me complain, and you're listening once more,
I know everything your bride's against, but I don't know what she's for,
So, don't mistake my anger for bitterness and strife,
'cuz on bended knees I'm begging you please "Jesus, talk to your wife!"

(The New Testament refers to the church as the "Bride of Christ" --- thus the song title and content.)


Póló said...

Not quite off topic, but relevant to a particular aspect, did anyone hear the interview on radio the other day with Fr. Peter McVerry on the likelihood of women priests in the RCC.

I understood that the mere discussion of this topic by RCs merited excommunication.

Brave man, and one I have long admired. He'd make a better Pope than the present one. Get rid of the trappings and reveal the Christ.

Good on ya, Fr. Peter.

John Barry said...

What makes Christianity so challenging is the fact that we Christians must obey the Ten Commandments of God. It is difficult to be a good Christian. Anne Rice should remember that. It is easy to walk away. In my view she should reconsider.

Póló said...

@John Barry

No, it is difficult to leave it when you have been brought up in it.

It is often the road less traveled and people should be given full credit for choices made in good faith.

Stella said...

Well, I applaud her. It is not easy to walk away, but she she is obviously feeling what so many other Christians are feeling, ie,that the established church seems to care more about keeping itself going as an institution, than truly representing the teachings of Christ.
This world is crying out to know the love of God, as shown to us by Christ Jesus. " That you love one another as I have loved you".
For me, living that commandment is so much more important than just blindly following the crowd.