Hamilton Nolan at Gawker:
Anne announced her religious renunciation on Facebook yesterday, because why not? First, this:
Followed by this:
There you have it. The vampire lady is no longer a Jesus lady.
David Goldman at First Things:
According to what we’ve heard, Rice’s post was heavily edited by her public relations team. The original reportedly went like this:
I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-vampire. I refuse to be anti-werewolf. I refuse to be anti-zombie. I refuse to be anti-ghoul. I refuse to be anti-porphyria. I refuse to belong to a religion whose cruciform symbol is used to terrorize creatures of the night. I refuse to belong to a religion that drives stakes through the hearts of beings with whom I consanguinate. I refuse to be anti-undead. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
I’m sorry, but this is weak, and makes me wonder what really happened. Surely a woman of her age and experience cannot possibly believe that the entirety of Christianity, current and past, can be reduced to the cultural politics of the United States of America in the 21st century. Does she really know no liberal Christians? Has she never picked up a copy of Commonweal? Does she really think that if she asked a Christian on the streets of Nairobi or Tegucigalpa what they, as Christians, thought of Nancy Pelosi, they would have the slightest idea what she was talking about? And Christianity, anti-science? Good grief. Has she not noticed that Catholic Church, to which she did belong until yesterday, has affirmed evolution, and embraces science? How can a woman of her putative sophistication really think that Christianity is nothing more than a section of the Republican Party at prayer?
Andrew Sullivan on Dreher:
I tend to agree, but it does reveal the impact of Christianism in this culture to swamp and delegitimize actual Christianity. Dreher, of course, remains appalled by the neologism, regarding it as somehow anti-Christian. In fact, it’s precisely an attempt to save the message of the Gospels from the menace of Republican cultural politics.
John Nolte at Big Hollywood:
As a relatively new member of the Catholic church, one of the things I’m learning, thanks in large part to my Parish Priest, is that an important pillar of anyone’s faith is the ongoing moral debate you have with yourself over what is wrong and what is right. Though I have many political differences with my church and even more with my Priest (one of the finest men I know), the church recognizes that a sincere inner-struggle regarding political and social issues, a struggle to come to a truly Christian decision, is something that should last a lifetime.
Rice, on the other hand, appears to have ended that inner-debate and come to all the conclusions. Among them, that same-sex marriage and voting for Democrats is what Christ would want. If she’s made a sincere effort to work her conscience through to that conclusion, that’s fine.
What’s not Christian, however, is her lashing out at those who disagree, and judging them from a moral authority she doesn’t possess as betrayers of what she obviously has decided is a kind of true Christianity. There’s another word for this: Intolerance.
From where I sit, it looks at though Rice has “elevated” herself from a Christian to a narcissist.
Rice’s angry frustration with what she (and, let’s face it, many others) perceive to be a sort of Institution of No is interesting. She refuses to be “anti-gay,” but the church teaches that indeed we must not be anti-gay, that homosexual inclinations are not sinful in themselves, but that all are called to chastity, whether gay or straight.
So, what she is refusing is not so much church teaching, which she incorrectly represents, but the worldly distortion of church teaching both as it is misunderstood and too-often practiced. I do not know how anyone could read the USCCB’s pastoral letter, Always Our Children and then make a credible argument that the church is “anti-gay.”
But then, I do not know how anyone can read Humanae Vitae and credibly call the church anti-feminist or anti-humanist.
I do not know how anyone can read Pope John Paul II’s exhaustive teachings on the Theology of the Body and credibly declare the church to be reactionary on issues of sexuality or womanhood.
I do not know how anyone can read Gaudium et Spes and credibly argue that the church is out of touch with the Human Person or Society.
I do not know how anyone can read Fides et ratio and credibly argue that the church does not hold human reason in esteem.
I do not know how anyone can look at the Vatican supporting and funding Stem Cell Research, or the even the briefest list of religiously-inclined scientists and researchers and credibly argue that Christianity is “anti-science.”
Anne Rice wants to do the Life-in-Christ on her own, while saying “Yes” to the worldly world and its values. She seems not to realize that far from being an Institution of No, the church is a giant and eternal urging toward “Yes,”, that being a “yes” toward God–whose ways are not our ways, and who draws all to Himself, in the fullness of time–rather than a “yes” to ourselves.
E.D. Kain at The League:
This just seems horribly superficial to me. I suppose it’s possible that Rice never really understood her faith to begin with. I suppose when politics and the culture ware become everything – including how we’re received in our various social scenes – then God really does become little more than a piece of clothing, worn for a bit until it goes out of fashion, then easily discarded.
Certainly Christians can be terrible Christians. Certainly I disagree with much of what is said and done in the name of Christianity. Certainly I get a knot in my stomach every time the Catholic hierarchy bungles yet another sexual abuse crisis, and the more revelations of how un-Christian so many priests and pastors and others have been while peddling the words of Christianity the more angry and saddened I become over the whole state of affairs. But then I go to mass and everything is different. There are no politics. There is no divisive language, no hell and brimstone, none of this. There is the message of love and redemption and community and charity that drew me back to Christianity in the first place.
It seems to me Rice isn’t doing this in the name of Christ at all. It seems she’s given up on Him altogether. And if that’s the case, then why dress it up in the language of politics? Why kick sand in the eyes of all those Christians who are pro-science, pro-gay rights, pro-feminism, pro birth-control?
Everyone has moments, has their own crisis of faith. It’s always sad to me when that crisis is too great, the struggle too much, for someone to overcome.
The Anchoress has some worthwhile thoughts on all of this.
In response to some of the comments here…
Obviously being Christian doesn’t make you any better or more moral or any of that garbage. Being Christian means you accept Jesus Christ as your lord and savior. And then hopefully you take that ball and run with it and do good works and all that jazz. But it isn’t really about what you’re for or against. Being non-Christian won’t make you more pro-gay or more pro-science, either. That’s a historical accident. If you were Christian or non-Christian two hundred years ago, it wouldn’t matter: you’d be anti-gay marriage. Likewise, some of the fiercest advocates of the abolition of slavery were religious zealots. In fifty or a hundred years we may not even be talking about gay rights any more (I hope gays will have 100% equal rights with straights and I hope it happens sooner than that!), but the questions of faith – the question of whether or not one believes, in this instance, in the divinity of Christ – will be questions that remains. The rest is transitory, the day’s politics, the day’s culture wars. Conflating one with the other seems to miss the deeper questions altogether.
Also, thanks to Anne Rice for stopping by!
I guess I found this odd because I never really thought of it as an organization you had to actively turn in a letter saying you were quitting. Most of us just sort of drift away and say to hell with it all.