Friday, July 30, 2010

Author Quits Christianity?

Author Anne Rice, whose works include "Interview with a Vampire", has decided that she is quitting Christianity; not quitting Christ, but quitting the church. I certainly cannot blame her, and it is quite interesting that CNN would pick up this story so quickly, but more on my thoughts later. Here are the barebones of the story, per CNN.
"[Rice], 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."

"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."
I point this out not because there is anything more significant about Anne Rice than anyone else, but rather because it reflects a similar thought process that I have been finding my way through. Just as Anne experienced, my conscience will not allow me to be a rank and file "Christian": supporting all the popular causes, backing all of the religious-claiming candidates, perpetuating prejudice and judgment toward people who do not believe what I believe. Jesus did not judge or ridicule imperfect people. He loved them. Clearly going to church does not make you like Jesus, in the same way that sticking feathers up your butt does not make you a chicken. I have instead chosen to distance myself from following the lead of mainstream, fundamentalist American Christianity.

I refuse to be a single issue voter.
I will not throw my lot in with a single political party.
I am unwilling to judge those who have different beliefs than mine.
My place is not to look down on 'sinners' or feign perfection.
I enjoy being around salt of the earth, honest, screwed up people.

Like Anne, I too am an outsider to much of the Christian community, but this is not something I am ashamed of or concerned with. My reaction to being an outsider is to seek a middle ground between myself and the ubiquitous entity that is known as 'church'. As I search for ways to love people and work for the good of humanity and remove judgment like Jesus did, I hope to see 'church' - and churchy people - do the same. But until that common ground is located I am going to try to follow Jesus, rather than follow his followers. I think Gandhi would understand, just as Anne Rice does.

And so on...

4 comments:

  1. Kevin, this is spot on. I totally agree with you. Well put.

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  2. This is mature, authentic faith. Bravo.

    As long as hatred does not develop for those believers who haven't gotten this yet, then it is all good. Christ loves everyone, and often I see believers leaning one way or the other; they either love the lost and hate the church or love the church and turn their backs to the lost.

    A little of both is necessary, I believe...even if you feel you are outside of the bubble. It is sensible to want to distance yourself from those Christians who do horrible things in the name of Christ. However, just like the lost, we need to hate the sin and love the sinner.

    I am as guilty of this as anyone. Good thoughts.

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  3. You say "I am unwilling to judge those who have different beliefs than mine." However, your piece does precisely that. Education is wonderful, but wisdom comes with experience and learning through that experience.

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  4. Anonymous: you really missed the boat on this one.

    I like to say that the one thing I am intolerant of is intolerance (take that with a grain of salt, obviously). When I see, hear or experience intolerance, I do not hide the fact that I disagree with it. Hiding that would be irresponsible and perpetuate the judgment. Silence would imply agreement, and I explicitly do not agree.

    I find it ironic that you thought it necessary to call me out for calling the Christian community to task. It seems as though you are judging me for my refusal to judge people in the same way many Christians do. Do I have to look down on smokers and ostracize gays to win your approval? I refuse to do that. This has nothing to do with education, nor experience.

    I don't care how much "experience" you have, wisdom and judgment do not walk hand in hand. Age does not imply wisdom. If you believe that judging "sinners" is how Christ would want us to act, we may never be able to find common ground. If the message of Jesus is love (and I believe it is), then it is our duty to love. Not to judge gays or Muslims or athiests. This is very basic, very straightfoward. Choosing to separate myself from the mainstream of Christian America is a personal decision, just as choosing to vote one way or another is a personal decision. I don't hate Christians who judge people; rather, I choose to voice my disagreement and make it known that there are some followers of Christ who refuse to judge the broken and alone. I would hope you can respect that, even if you do not understand it.

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