Anne Rice has today announced that she is quitting Christianity:
“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.”
Which put me in mind of this:
“I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Mahatma Gandhi
Things haven’t changed. And sometimes I’m afraid they never will. On CNN’s website the comments on the article about Anne Rice are heated as people commend her, abjure her, and otherwise express their views. I for one, happen to sympathize with Ms. Rice. So do many of my friends. We’re tired of the falseness of the church. We’re tired of being told that being Christian means a very limited and narrow thing.
Being a Christian is about being a follower of Christ. Not a follower of his followers…though that would make you a good Catholic. All jokes aside, this is hitting an issue that the church is going to have to open its eyes about. The church has fallen, quite clasically, into the roll of the Pharisees. There are all these rules, you see, and they must be followed, and only by following them will you be happy, fulfilled, and Christian…
The Pharisees certainly thought they were right in their time. They were the religious right. They upheld all the rules, followed the laws, they were the good guys. And they were the ones that Christ called a brood of vipers. (Matthew 12:34) In Matthew 23, he is constantly calling woe to those upholding the strictest laws. Because they have forgotten mercy, justice, and faithfulness. That certainly sounds like today’s church. We have come full circle. We are the enemy. We are the ones crucifying the strange man, with ridiculous claims and hard teachings. We are the ones judging the company he keeps…tax collectors, the demon possessed, prostitutes, homosexuals, fallen sinners. The church has prided itself on becoming a museum for saints when all along it was meant as a hospital for sinners.
All in all though, the commentors are right, Ms. Rice is not so much quitting Christianity as she is quitting the church. And yet, I fully sympathize and empathize with that decision. My faith in God and in Christ defines me. Rules from the church do not. Because, rules were never meant to get us into heaven. They were meant to show us that we could not do it on our own. Grace. Such a hard thing. Such a wonderous thing.