Spiritual But Not Religious: Anne Rice, Christianity, and Wild Goose Culture

The Wild Goose Festival seeks to be a place where people of faith and people who struggle with faith (which might be all of us?) can wrestle together with what it means to be people who live at the intersection of justice, creativity, and spirituality in the 21st century. This is a conversation our larger culture is having, involving artists, authors, blue collar workers, ministers, and more.

Last summer it spilled onto Facebook, as best-selling novelist Anne Rice announced that she was quitting Christianity:

“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.”

She elaborated:

“I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or being a part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

What Ms. Rice has shared has hit a nerve. Wild Goose contributor Brian McLaren responded inMy Take: Why I Support Anne Rice but Am Still a Christian, and Festival team member Mike Morrell interviewed Rice directly for the Homebrewed Christianity podcast, where she acknowledges “I am still obsessed with Christ…[but] some of us don’t want to be thrown down the stairs by the followers of Christ

The biggest dividing point between people of faith today is not liberal versus conservative – it’s SBNR (spiritual-but-not-religious) versus the happily-religious (who are also, we presume, spiritual too). But need this be a dividing line? In the wake of seismic religious change in the past century, coupled with increased awareness of the very real injustices perpetuated by institutionalized faith, it would seem that many are drawing this line in the sand. There are no easy answers to the sea change indicated by voices like Rice. But we hope we can find them with each other.

This is very much a conversation we’re interested in continuing as the Wild Goose Festival takes place in just twelve days. If you haven’t purchased your tickets yet, please do so as prices go up at the door. We hope we’ll be in conversation with you, creating something beautiful together.

I’m a Christian! I’m a Christian! - A Reading from 'Insurrection' by Peter Rollins
Taking Flight at Wild Goose - Cynthia Lagrou
The Transformative Power of Questions - Elissa Elliott
Living “Relational Ecclesiology” - Tony Jones
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