Quitting Christianity

Author Anne Rice announced that she’s leaving Christianity. When she announced that she’d met Jesus a few years ago and come to faith, which she practices in the Roman Catholic tradition, it was quite a hoo-haa. Anne is the author of “Interview with a Vampire” and the series that followed including “Queen of the Damned”. She wrote about darkness and obsession and vampires – heavy stuff before the Twilight phenom turned Vampires into 100 year old brooding Goth hotties who macked on teenage girls without making that seem as uber-creepy as it sounds.

Here’s the right up via CNN: “Anne Rice leaves Christianity”

Legendary author Anne Rice has announced that she’s quitting Christianity.

The “Interview with a Vampire” author, who wrote a book about her spirituality titled “Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession” in 2008, said Wednesday that she refuses to be “anti-gay,” “anti-feminist,” “anti-science” and “anti-Democrat.”

Rice wrote, “For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … 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.”

Rice then added another post explaining her decision on Thursday:
“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,” Rice wrote. “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.”

Ever been in a Church meeting where you suddenly realized you just didn’t fit? I have been. Often. Even recently.

I was put on a “committee” for our ministerial once. Once. We were meeting to talk about getting information out to the churches in our ministerial here about the same sex marriage legislation that was headed to Parliament. One of our three member group laid out a bunch of brochures he’d come across and wanted us to agree that we should purchase these in quantity and have them distributed in our churches. The other two of us started looking them over. The basic approach behind all of the brochures was to warn us of the ‘homosexual agenda’ and the ‘gay threat’. Statistics without footnotes, facts without evidence or supporting data and it was all basically saying, “God hates fags.” As I read it I had a suspicion that these were recycled brochures and back in the late 30’s and early 40’s they had originally read “Jews” everywhere it now said, “Gays”.

Fortunately I wasn’t alone in that and the other person reading these over had the same reaction I did. We said, “No. Absolutely not.” Our reluctance to sign off on these pamphlets was met by frustration and I suspect suspicion.

Over the last 5 years, watching the sad parade of flakes, phonies and hucksters, being pressured to support the notion that God’s party is the Conservative party (south of the border insert ‘Republican’) and sitting in Church gatherings and conferences where I wanted to stand up and shout like Mugatu, “Doesn’t anybody notice this? I feel like I’m taking crazy pills!” has left me sympathetic to Anne’s plight and her decision. You can have all the world, take all the rest, just give me Jesus.

How about you? Ever felt like you just didn’t fit?

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About brianmpei

Stumbling towards what comes next.
This entry was posted in ann rice, Books, Christianity, Church, God, homosexuality, ministry, perception, religion, theology, truth. Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to Quitting Christianity

  1. Judy says:

    All my life. Matter of fact I admire Ann’s guts – she puts into words how I’ve felt about the church but have rarely felt comfortable to say at mine. I’ve felt like a square peg in a round hole, a pariah, judged, bullied … ostracized.

    Great point she makes: “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.” Good to know she didn’t throw out the baby with the bathwater.

    • brianmpei says:

      Thanks for that Judy. And I too am glad she’s hanging on to that baby! I suspect it will be hard for some to believe she can hold on to Jesus without embracing all the rest. And sorry we’ve ever made you feel the peg/hole thing.

      • Judy says:

        The most wonderful thing I’ve found in the last year and a half is that it is possible to fit in – you just gotta know where to look. I had to go outside Christianity to find that – initially. What I learned in that “safe place” was that it IS possible to believe in God and accept people the way they are. It IS possible to be authentic and yet have real peace. Revelation! Then what I learned there I am now able to bring back to the organized church and challenge my brothers and sisters to be real. Amazing the people who have been helped by this simple concept: honesty.

  2. I left Christianity years ago,, I do not fit it and it certainly has no appeal for me.. Joyce and I go to church only when I am invited to speak, otherwise we live as the church in community with real relationships and real life. This not for everybody, bur for us, we have never felt more God and more alive in Him than we do now. So now we are Christ followers, some days better than others 🙂

    • brianmpei says:

      Well, you both fit in here! 🙂 But I hear you. I still love the saints assembled for worship and our local church is like a barrel of friends but ‘Christianity’ with the baggage (that keeps growing) I fear makes it harder and harder to say to someone, “Look, there’s Jesus.” I think Anne makes a distinction between the Church and the Kingdom and “Christianity”.

      • Brian,

        The more and more I travel, I see a God operate in and through many idiosyncrasies. He loves the charismatic acting like a fool with his pants on the ground, He loves the revivalist rolling on the floor in laughter. He loves the Catholic who is lighting a candle for a loved one, a Baptist who is sticking to the Bible only, etc. No He does allow for stuff, but He desires a changed heart and a maturing of a Christ like existence

        The key is where are you finding God? He does not want us to be isolated, besides exceptional seasons, He desires community. Community is not an event or even a Sunday, it is much more than that. Joyce and I loved PEI and your church because there is life in the community outside the meetings. This is rare in so many churches. People rarely find family and friends after Sunday is over and it is very sad… I am all for whatever a community does on Sunday “As One” but I am more for a community that goes beyond organized meetings and a community that does life well together.

  3. All the time Brian. Sometimes I feel like my fight isn’t against flesh and blood – but the church! Good on you for not going along with hate mongering. I think I get why this is so troubling for some folks, but the need to have an enemy personified really upsets me. I love the shape that my own community has formed, there are times when I long for the good things that a large organized church has to offer (a good salary is up there, just to be honest) but the cost is often too much. I get tired of the games that emerge when we lose sight of Jesus and focus on what might make us feel more comfortable. Life is too short to have a comfortable religion. I want a religion that makes me think about hard things; a religion that calls me to sacrifice comfort and security (material) for the sake of the other. That kind of religion I can buy into, even give my life for. That kind of religion is Christocentric – God demonstrating exactly what it means to follow. What I fear too many of our churches are is anthropocentric – focused on serving the whims of man.

  4. Michelle says:

    Good stuff. And good comments.

    I’ve heard Anne interviewed about her conversion several times -once on CBC radio and once by Drew Marshall. I thought she came across as intelligent and sincere. She returned to Catholicism -the faith of her childhood. I remember thinking that the mystery, mysticism, ritual and tradition of the Catholic faith seemed to complement the subject matter of her writing in many ways.

    Anne’s son is gay and I’m sure that must have influenced her struggles with certain Christian teachings. I think she was brave to move outside the box -especially because Christians are quick to cling to celebrity spokespersons. Undoubtedly she would have been aware that she would be letting some people down. I hope she finds a new community of believers that can encourage and support her.

    Oh, and YES, I often feel like I don’t quite fit in. When I go to church meetings/services now I try to “take what I need and leave the rest” and I look for ways to relate rather than alienate myself or others. In the past, whenever I had the experience of not fitting in, I’d think “this is why I’m not a Christian” but these days I can (usually) accept that were not all the same. None the less it’s still hard to speak my truth when I’m in the minority.

    • brianmpei says:

      “Eat the chicken and leave the bones.” A relationship-saving approach to life.

      It’s a little like Bob Dylan when he started following Jesus. Suddenly the “spokesman for the 60s” (who resisted that title and responsibility a million different ways) become the “spokesman for Christianity”. If the 60s were hard to explain, imagine how hard it would be to be the ‘official’ spokesperson for Christianity. It didn’t take him long to “leave Christianity” either.

  5. Neil Gillis says:

    “How about you? Ever felt like you just didn’t fit?” Brian, that’s my permanent address, bud. All my life, when it comes to traditional religion and relating to God, I’ve felt like the kid peering through a window at a beautiful Christmas scene inside, while shivering outside, poor blind and naked in the cold with his nose pressed against the glass and wondering how to get in, to fit….

    I walked away mentally and spiritually (but not physically) from “normal” Christianity years and years ago. Often times when I hear people walk out of a church gushing about what a good service some Sunday morning ritual was, I wonder who got blessed..us or Him. Why are we there..to lift up praises to the God who saved us from eternal damnation ..or to get blessed and feel good (whatever the heck THAT is).
    We, as so called Christians, are like what Mike Warneke (who was a victim of “Friendly Fire (his book) himself), when he said “Christians called to fight the good fight, the vast army of the living God, spent the majority of their time polishing their armor or fighting one another”. That’s it.

    Lately, church to me is more what Jesus talked about and did…hanging out with friends, to lift each other up, talk about problems, apply Biblical principles to “ouch” areas, form intense, intimate relationships where people can be safe, unload and upload anything they want, be real and be wanted and loved. Not just a cell group thing but where you can meet for church any day any time any where (Tim’s, a field, a park, someones home, a car, etc.) Jesus said He’d be there if only two or three were there. That’s good enough for me.

    I also have great respect for authors like John Eldredge, Don Williams and Dallas Willard. The “Christian” that I seem to relate to most is one who was misunderstood by his friends, who was rejected by his family, turned out of his church and lectured to by his pastor. Oh…and his name was Jesus.

    • brianmpei says:

      Thanks Neill, good stuff to think about there. He was ‘rejected and despised by men’ – so it shouldn’t be a surprise that following him might include some of the same for us, eh? I just wanted to be rejected for truth and love and not because I’m just a jerk.

  6. brianmpei says:

    And Judy and Robert – thanks for your follow ups, good stuff. I didn’t realize my blog template only allows for the one reply. I’ll have to look into that.

    • Judy says:

      Oh it allows for more than one reply. Just wanted to keep stuff together for continuity. (grin)

      Thanks too for your replies. Lots of good stuff to think about.
      Sometimes I think I can hear the call of the organized church like the many voices of the Borg collective: “We are the church. You will be unstimulated.” Rules, regulations, shoulds, oughtas. That’s about the Outside stuff. I wanna live from the Inside out.

  7. Brian I am on the road today so call me anytime after Noon..

  8. Chris says:

    Great shot at Twilight Brian, couldn’t have said it better myself. I can definitely relate to Rice’s refusal to be “anti-gay, anti-feminist, anti-science and anti-Democrat” and fully support her in that. She says she tried for 10 years, I’m assuming (and maybe I’m wrong, it has happened) that she only tried one church or a couple of very similar ones. While I’m not an expert on all the different churches that are you there, I think that instead of quitting she just needed a new flavor. Maybe someone just needs to say “Hey Anne, not all churches are the same, if you are unhappy with yours you don’t have to leave them all, find one that fits you and what you believe”.

    • brianmpei says:

      Chris – thanks, I take my Twilight shots whenever I can! 🙂

      I think what you’re saying about church is true and there are lots of flavours. I think mostly Anne is leaving – or distancing herself – from the popular expression of “Christianity” found in North America today. A practice that seems to carry on quite well without Jesus and all his nonsense about denying ourselves, carrying our own cross and doing things his way. It’s basically a world view or philosophy that has developed that has found a way to make money off of a free gift, and politics of division over a movement of reconciliation.

  9. Judy says:

    quote
    . . . has found a way to make money off of a free gift, and politics of division over a movement of reconciliation.
    end quote

    Whoa-hoe! Love that juxtaposition….
    That’s SO the Western church, the self-centered culture that’s crept into it insidiously like “The Nothing” from “The Neverending Story.” The church is, as the Body of Christ, a living organism. But it’s been so organized by 1900 years of human tradition, religion and “add-ons” that were never intended. Organizing (dissecting, if you will) a living organism is – well – it’s vivisection. When that happens, the organism usually dies. In many ways and places it all but died long ago, and lies in the dust wasted away to nothing.

    Can these dry bones live? “Oh Lord, only You know.”
    Will we arise to His call?

    I need to again dig out John Eldredge’s book, “Waking the Dead.” It’s time.

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