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Posts Tagged ‘Anne Rice’

If you like Jesus, but don’t care for the Christian church, this news item may have grabbed your attention: bestselling vampire novelist Anne Rice, who returned to her Roman Catholic faith in 1998, renounced Christianity in 2010, but retained her commitment to following Jesus.

Is such a thing possible? Ms Rice (best known for writing Interview With The Vampire and The Vampire Lestat) certainly thinks so.

Writing on her Facebook page, Ms Rice declared, “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.”

At the same time, she maintained, “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.”

The reaction to all this has been hugely mixed. Some people are sad, others (unfortunately) declare “good riddance” and some are understanding.

I fall into the latter camp. There’s no doubt about it, Christians and their churches are a motley crew who exhibit all the traits of humanity. That means we can be, and often are, petty, smug, self-righteous, self-centered, intentionally blind to our own screw-ups while judging others’ failures, quarrelsome, pessimistic, and more. You get the picture, right?

However, I’m puzzled as to why Ms. Rice found this so intolerable. I don’t believe any human being on this planet today – Christian, Jew, Buddhist, Muslim, atheist, etc. – is immune to at least some of the same shortcomings. Is she?

The Christian church is made up of gloriously imperfect people, so it’s certainly no more virtuous than many other institutions. The trouble is, there was a time when church leaders held it up as a model of morality. Even though few leaders make that mistake today, the residue of that time continues and, in the eyes of the media and militant atheists, this makes the church a safe and easy target.

There are three points that Ms. Rice, and anyone pondering a life of faith, should consider:

1.  Today’s Christian church makes a hugely positive contribution to the world in everything from providing for the poor and helping single mothers to improving their communities and supplying aid to developing nations.
In all this, today’s churches are guided by Jesus, who tells His followers to care for the needy, love their enemies and treat people the way they themselves would like to be treated. Almost every other organization that’s committed to doing good works tries to follow these guidelines, whether they know it or not.

2.  Serious followers of Jesus realize they are called to be in a church. I found a passage in the Bible that almost seems addressed to people like Anne Rice: “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.”

3.  Being part of a church, no matter how imperfect it may be, helps serious Christians deepen their faith and resist some of the nasty temptations offered up by our culture, such as pornography, shop-til-you-drop lifestyles, gambling, and dog-eat-dog competitivenes.

It’s not always easy being part of a church. But for most serious Christians, the go-it-alone alternative is worse. I happily anticipate the day Anne Rice realizes this.

So, have you walked away from attending church? If so, why? And do the three points listed above make any difference in your viewpoint?

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