Heather King; the Anti-Anne Rice – UPDATED

Last summer, when Anne Rice loudly announced that she was “quitting” Christianity but not Christ, I wrote a long point-by-point response that seems to have gone missing in my move over to Patheos. Hopefully it will be recovered, but thanks to Ed Driscoll, some of it can be read at his place, including this part:

Anne Rice wants to do the Life-in-Christ on her own, while saying “Yes” to the worldly world and its values. She seems not to realize that far from being an Institution of No, the church is a giant and eternal urging toward “Yes,”, that being a “yes” toward God–whose ways are not our ways, and who draws all to Himself, in the fullness of time–rather than a “yes” to ourselves.

Now we read that Rice has apparently doubled-down on the distortive secularist narrative. Insight Scoop has some quotes and thoughts:

* ”I hadn’t been a Catholic for 38 years, so I began to study it. I began to live it…. And I came to the conclusion 12 years later that it was not a fine religion, that it was dishonorable, that it was dishonest, that it’s theology was largely sophistry… and that it was basically a church that told lies. And that it was for me, for my conscientious standpoint, an immoral church; and I had to leave it.”
* ”They’re very eager to blame the liberals, but the liberals have had no power in the Church all these years. And 75% of the priesthood and the hierarchy are gay.”

Since announcing to great fanfare last summer that she was ditching the Church, Rice has revealed that she possesses a wealth of emotional baggage and a poverty of knowledge about Church history, practice, and theology.

I thought Rice’s book Called Out of Darkness was lyrical, but I confess it did not move me as much as Heather King’s Redeemed (which I talked about in a blogpost that seems to have been lost in moving). In Redeemed, King fearlessly shows herself in all of her alcoholic and unhappy wreckage and then walks us through her fire in a voice that is both brazen and funny. It’s a great book.

Deacon Greg has also written about Heather’s work.

After re-reading this excerpt from Redeemed, I begin to think of Heather as sort of the “anti-Anne Rice;” she is reconciled to mystery:

For a long time I thought spiritual progress, when and if it came, would be elevated, loud, cataclysmic. I thought my duty was to save the entire continent of Africa, or become a swami. As I continued to attend Mass, pray the Psalms, and read the Gospels, however, the more I came to believe in the value of the small, the quiet, the anonymous (although not that anonymous, I guess, or I wouldn’t be writing this). The more I craved to be recognized, the more I seemed to spend many hours a day doing things nobody knew about or could see.

And later:

If St. Gregory’s Church over on Bronson was open, I sometimes stopped in to pray, or more often, just kneel, so happy to be in an old neighborhood Catholic church, with its scarred wooden pews, its fussy altar, its smell of furniture polish and faded flowers. I always happened upon a few other folks: an elderly Korean lady fretfully fingering a rosary (They never come visit!), a delicate-looking young man, head buried in hands (I got my girlfriend pregnant! Help!). Sometimes I think the whole reason I converted to Catholicism is because its churches are open all day. My career in the bars was at bottom a search to belong, and I have always had a sense of almost abject gratitude for open doors, spots to rest, the opportunity to sit quietly near people without having to talk to them.

Someone wrote me earlier thanking me for Johnny Carson and Lolita, saying it was “just what I needed.”

I urge you to go read the full chapter of Redeemed, which is excerpted here. It may be just what you need, too. I certainly relate to it; reading King is like taking a big cleansing breath before moving on.

UPDATE:
Fr. Dwight Longenecker has More thoughts on Anne Rice

About Elizabeth Scalia
  • Anonymous

    I exchanged some emails with Anne Rice a few years ago; nobody home

  • francesca

    Love Heather King’s work! She is a wonderful author who does not shy away from authentic faith. Hers is the Flannery O’Connor spirit.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_AM4HIM4F23TH7QNTW3OGKPKZLE S Dent

    I’m still praying for Anne Rice and other Catholics (like me) that sometimes find the road hard.

    I’m sticking with my gut reaction to her announcement last year, it was “social” and about the people she had for decades called “friends” that were not supportive of the changes she was making.

    Not everyone is ready to “give up” on this world and live for the everlasting one to come. Glamour and frame are heady intoxicants; just remember that “toxic” equals “poison” and poison kills.

  • Annie

    Heather King is a treasure. Her books are beautiful, painful, insightful…and hilarious!

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