On the way home this evening, I chanced upon an interview of Anne Rice on NPR. You will all know her as the famous author of “Interview with a Vampire: The Vampire Chronicles.” It’s the famous film that got rave reviews in 1994, with a heavy-duty star-studded cast–Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Christian Slater, Antonio Banderas, Kirsten Dunst, Thandie Newton, to name a few. Ring a bell?
It turns out that Anne Rice had always had a love-hate relationship with her religion, having been brought up a strict Catholic. She went from Catholic to Atheist to Catholic again (strangely around the time Vampire Chronicles came out). And now, in her interview, she has publicly declared that she is done with Christianity. In July, she announced on her Facebook page:
“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. 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.”
The decision, she said, was a very painful one. But she no longer wants to be a part of a group, a church, a congregation, that is this extremist and does not allow any questioning or debate as part of the journey to clarity and enlightenment. The last straw for her was the recent actions of the church to block the passage of the law to allow same-sex marriage. She knew that the Catholic bishops would not allow marriage in church by gays. But she was not prepared for the Catholic Church to actually donate money to defeat the civil rights of gays to marry in a secular setting (Prop 8). It was over the bounds of the Catholic Church to actively intervene in a civil proceeding.
She said that the vampires in her stories were always living in the dark. They lived in a world without God. And this somehow melded with her stage of atheism that was accompanied by pessimism. But Anne says she has found God and her faith is strong. But it does not mean that worshiping God means being part of an organized religion that is very very flawed.
Same sex marriages are just one issue. For me, I have found problems with the Church’s stand on issues of women’s reproductive rights, the obscene wealth of the Catholic Church in contrast to the restof the world where people are dying of starvation, or the history of the Crusades where whole tribes were totally annihilated or lands were conquered and pillaged—all in the name of Christianity. And there is the recent history of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church that many members of the Church have either ignored, trivialized, shoved under the rug, denied, etc. Certainly the membership of Christianity has been under siege for several years now, more than ever. But most of this is also the Church’s own doing. As they say, these powers-that-be have dug themselves into a hole. Now they must lie in it.
For those of you who are interested in the Interview of Anne Rice with NPR, just click this link.