Reading about Anne Rice's decision to quit Christianity brought me back here after such a long absence. Although I don't have even one reader for every ten thousand she has, I've struggled with many of the issues which drove her to make such an anguished declaration. I've never even mentioned before on this blog that I consider myself a follower of Jesus Christ, not because I am ashamed of him, but because I am ashamed of many of those who claim to follow him.
Even as a writer, I'm an outcast. I've finally come to terms with that. But what troubles me is the thought that my readers and friends might go away and never come back, without ever giving me a chance to explain I'm not like "them". I've waited, hoping I could find the right words. But now, I suspect there are no right words. Some of the most vocal of those who call themselves Christians take positions I disagree with on nearly everything.
Even most of the Christians I respect are not people whose opinions I agree with without question. Of course, I don't expect anyone to agree with my opinions without question, either. The problem is, non-Christians often assume anyone who says they are a Christian must be like the worst examples they can think of, and Christians often assume anyone who calls themselves a Christian must agree with their
interpretation of the Bible.
I don't think Jesus Christ cared about politics. He cared about people's hearts, and left the politics to the politicians. That was one of the reasons he upset people. He refused to be politic and keep from upsetting the status quo. And I don't think he expected his followers to impose Mosaic Law on non-believers, even the "family values" clauses within that law. All he asked of us was this, to believe in him and to let him work in our lives, so he could help us set an example for the rest of the world.
In those days, people still left unwanted newborns out on mountainsides to die. If these babies, usually either girls or sickly boys, were lucky, a slave trader would find them and raise them until they could be sold. Jesus didn't send his disciples out to find people exposing their children and stone them. He simply told his disciples to follow him. Now, I happen to believe abortion is wrong. That isn't the point. Where I disagree is in how Jesus would expect his followers to act. I don't think he'd have us pass laws; I think he'd just have us live so much for him that we radiated his light into the world, making others want to know and follow him, until the practice just naturally withered.
Maybe I'm wrong about that. I'm not God, and I'm not Jesus Christ. But it is what I honestly believe, based on what I read about his actions and those of his followers in the Bible. I don't say that lightly. I've agonised over the issue. In Nazi Germany, I would have been considered unfit and gassed. No matter how much the modern world would like to forget this, abortion grew out of the eugenics movement, and the eugenics movement is just the generic name for Nazi "race science". I instinctively loathe and fear anything that smacks of their policies.
Abortion is as horrible an idea to me as it is to anyone else, with aspects of nightmare overlaid. I just happen to think the usual Christian way of attacking the problem is not the way Christ himself would have tackled it. His followers did things his way, and it wasn't very long before babies were no longer left to die in the wilderness. All the Christian protests just seem to strengthen the resolve of those who support the idea of abortion as a kind of freedom.
Fiction writers are tortured at the best of times, and a fiction writer who genuinely wishes to follow Christ is torn between the competing forces of the stories that rise up inside them, and whatever Christians decide to define as "Christian" fiction. Why can't a Christian writer just write, and trust that some bit of the beliefs which led them to their faith will shine through? Jesus often spoke in parables which were far from clear, even to his own disciples. Yet they told a story and made a point he considered important. He seems to have considered these little stories, with their subtle points, the best way to communicate in many situations. Since he is capable of opening anyone's ears and heart, why can't he use a story which does not fit the "Christian" label to do so?
There are so few Christian writers who honestly want to serve the God they believe in, but who also reject the traditional niches reserved for "Christian writers", that it is impossible to even find anyone to discuss how best to keep our writing on the right track. A well-known writer such as Anne Rice, with a publisher and editors imposing their own expectations on her, and fans adding their voices, has an impossible task.
Don't any of you Christians who are so quick to object to her remarks ever consider you might share some of the blame for driving her to this point? If you don't, you should. As obscure as I am, I understand her frustration and her agony. I pray for her, not because I think she has done anything terrible, but just because I think she has been trapped in a terrible position. And we can all use prayer. If you read this, and consider yourself a Christian, please pray for Anne Rice, not because she is any more imperfect than you are, but just because she is hurting.
Labels: Anne Rice, Christ, Christianity, writing