There has been some buzz on the blogs about Anne Rice, most famous for her vampire stories (which inspired the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt/Kirsten Dunst film, Interview with the Vampire), has renounced Christianity. Though it appears she hasn’t renounced Christ. She grew up a Roman Catholic, renounced it, and came back. She even once shared the stage with former Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright. Now, she says that she can no longer be ‘anti-gay’ and ‘anti-feminist’, so she is leaving the church.
I admit that I am heartbroken for Ms. Rice. Long before she came back to the church, I became of a big fan of her vampire chronicles. I even loved Memnoch the Devil, one that wasn’t as critically acclaimed because of her long discussions of theology. I could see her trying to work out so much of what she believed, and it challenged me at the same time. She is such a gifted story-teller, and I was estatic to hear that she had come back to the Christian faith.
My friend Wyman pointed to a fantastic reflection by Russell Moore of Southern Seminary, and it sums up (in ‘Anne Rice Hasn’t Betrayed You’) what I believe our reaction to Ms. Rice’s announcement can be and what our hope for her needs to be:
Anne says she still loves Jesus but she doesn’t love Christianity. Yes, I know that it is impossible to love Jesus without loving his church. I’ve preached that for years, and I still believe it. But can’t you see how someone could wrestle against that? I am thankful that I had been a Christian long enough to have gained some kind of maturity before I saw just how vicious “Christianity” can be.
I think it ought to instruct us here as to how Jesus handled situations like these. Jesus was fierce in his denunciation of those with power, including religious and ecclesial power. He never shied away from confronting personal sin in anyone, including the wounded and vulnerable, but he did in a completely different way. Think of the woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the demonized villagers, and on and on. Jesus never snuffs out that smoldering wick, never breaks that bruised reed. And it’s because he loves.
Yes, Anne Rice has renounced Christianity. Maybe it’s a permanent move away from the gospel, showing that she never quite made it all the way into communion with Christ. If so, let’s represent Christ and continue to point her to the Jesus she finds in some way mystifying. It could be that Anne is a Christian who is having a wave of doubt and rejection. So did the Apostle Peter, who also renounced Christianity and, as a matter of fact, cursed Jesus personally in the process. But when Jesus finds Peter in Galilee (right back on the fishing boats where he’d been called from in the first place!), he never even mentions the incident at the fireside.
That sums up what I would want to say. I do hope Ms. Rice can find an expression of Christian community where she will meet the Christ she has come to know.