The latest news that writer Ann Rice (Interview with the Vampire) has rejected Christianity (but not Christ) raises many questions and challenges. Rather than accuse Rice and deflect blame, Christians must now take a hard look at themselves.
Brought up in a Catholic, family Rice became an atheist before returning to Christianity. Going back into a relationship is never the same and now she re-entered the faith having a son who is gay.
She stated on her facebook page:
“In the name of Christ, I 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. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”
She also stated,
“It is simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious and deservedly infamous group”.
Earlier posts suggest the inner struggle she was engaged in:
Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian) become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?”
Could it be that a particular form of Christianity has done the job that many atheists have failed to do?
In truth, Rice has not rejected Christianity, only the institutions and the petty squabbles around issues that the Church seems incapable of taking, what many would see as, the obvious moral position.
This is another challenge to Christians to re-examine whether their versions of Christianity and their institutions are really following in the footsteps of Christ. Somewhere along the line it lost its way, forgot the meaning of metaphor, rejected reality holding onto pre-natural models, and most importantly, became so concerned with itself that it forgot to look outwards, instead delineating divisions between itself and everyone else.
To paraphrase retired Bishop John Shelby Spong, it has forgotten that God is not actually a Christian, a Muslim or a Jew. All these are social constructs designed to “help us walk into the mystery of God”.
When the construct becomes more important than the function it was designed to serve, followers of Christ, like Ann Rice, rightly turn their backs.