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.

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  • http://www.abolitionistapproach.com Trish Roberts

    Well done Anne. I hope more make public statements such as this and follow your example

  • Scott Winn

    It’s a bit of the “baby with the bath water” syndrome, as not all Christian institutions are anti-gay, anti-science, etc. It’s much easier to simply walk away from the problems in mainstream religion than it is to stand in the middle and oppose them. I’d rather continue to work to reform and redeem Christianity.

    If you want to fix the very real issues of Christians who don’t follow Christ’s example it’s going to hard to do so from outside the group. I think it’s much more effective (and takes much more courage) to stand in the middle of it and say “We are wrong”.

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  • http://emergentpillage.blogspot.com/ audie

    So, because Christianity won’t conform itself to the biases and pet sins of Anne Rice, Anne Rice has a tantrum, and becomes a WG hero.

    –I refuse to be anti-gay.

    And, of course, the Bible speaks plainly against homosexuality.

    –I refuse to be anti-feminist.

    And, of course, the Bible is plain that women are not to lead in the churches.

    –I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control.

    And, of course, the Bible is very much for families and children.

    –I refuse to be anti-democrat.

    Assuming by this she means the Democratic Party in the US, of course, the Dems platform is an almost complete repudiation of anything biblical.

    –I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.

    And, of course, the Bible has little good to say about humanity and it’s vain imaginations.

    –I refuse to be anti-science.

    And, of course, the Bible teaches that God created the world, that miracles happen, and that God is able to interfere in the physical world. Not to mention the fact that because the western world believed in a God who created a world of order that science as we know it was able to develop, that scientist before the modern day were largely believers in God, and that there is nothing unscientific in the Bible.

    –I refuse to be anti-life.

    And, of course, the Bible is very pro-life, the church is very pro-life, and Christians value life. Wow, that seems like the lamest reason of all to ditch Christianity.

    –In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

    Good luck doing it better on your own.

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  • mountainguy

    Well Audie, it seems christendom is so good religion for you, gringo pendejo

  • mountainguy

    “So, because Christianity won’t conform itself to the biases and pet sins of Anne Rice, Anne Rice has a tantrum, and becomes a WG hero.”

    That happens to be a problem with many of we who call ourselves christians… christianity doesn’t conform to the sins of anyone, you included Audie.

    “And, of course, the Bible speaks plainly against homosexuality.”

    It speaks plainly against a verb, not against a biological inclination. And although I’d be considered more ocnservative than many others here in my embrace of the idea that, whie homosexuality itself is not sinful, homsexual intercourse is, anyway i don’t go anymore for crusades against gays (probably more because I oppose anyway of forcing anything to others via political legislation).

    “And, of course, the Bible is plain that women are not to lead in the churches.”

    Hard to argue against that, but given the sexism so characteristical of western world, feminism has many right points.

    “And, of course, the Bible is very much for families and children.”

    Try to lead a 10 children family in the 3 world, bonzo. Or send your money to support them (because it seems it’s sloth when you are supported through taxes, but not when it is done through private charity). And why is birth control antifamily? You know, you could have a 1-2 children healthy family.

    “Assuming by this she means the Democratic Party in the US, of course, the Dems platform is an almost complete repudiation of anything biblical.”

    As well as republicans. Now, I hate GOP as much as I hate the dem party, but in all fairness her comment might be directed to those who think that GOP=God, that Jesus leads YAF (or YAL, I don’t know which one is more tied to GOP), and that the holy ghost is actually Rush Limbaugh.

    “–I refuse to be anti-secular humanism.

    And, of course, the Bible has little good to say about humanity and it’s vain imaginations.”

    I’m not secular humanist. I don’t even think I might be qualified to be humanist of any kind (because I find it too much anthropocentric for my taste), but I don’t see secular humanists to be a problem (I find fndies to be more dangerous). And even though I have quite a pessimistic view of humanity, the very idea that humans are 100% perverted is plainly unuseful, if not idiotic.

    “And, of course, the Bible teaches that God created the world, that miracles happen, and that God is able to interfere in the physical world. Not to mention the fact that because the western world believed in a God who created a world of order that science as we know it was able to develop, that scientist before the modern day were largely believers in God, and that there is nothing unscientific in the Bible.”

    First, The Bible was written before the development of science, so it’s anachronistic to suggest it is pro or antiscience. Now, the western world beleived lots of fantasies, lies and fallacies, many of them based upon biblical verses, like the whole thing of slaving africans, or the support for genocide of the native poeple of America (the whole continent). Many of the guys who believed in God did so because believing in a superior deity was necesary to their scientific paradigms at the moment, but even if they were comitted chtistians, the god of wester modern science was more a sort of unmovable platonic deity than the active personal god of the bible (now, I don’t suggest it is bad to see the biblical God through the eyes of western thinking). And finally, biblical inerrancy leads to severe antisicience positions, such as creationism.

    “And, of course, the Bible is very pro-life, the church is very pro-life, and Christians value life. Wow, that seems like the lamest reason of all to ditch Christianity.

    right wing christians are very antiabortion, are very pro-bomb-those-nasty-arabs, very used to make Terry Schiavo propagand of the worst kind , and very pro-death penalty. If I had to name pro-life christians, I’d choose Seamless Garmenters.

    “–In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.”

    I think this quite covers the topic:
    http://www.jesusradicals.com/repenting-of-christianity/

  • mountainguy

    BTW, I’m not related to Patheos, Anne Rice, and not even for emergent christianity (I have some simpathy for them, but just that). Heck, I don’t even live in northamerica

  • http://www.shawncoons.com Shawn Coons

    The less I interact with other Christians the more the voice of God inside me starts to sound like my voice. Lone Ranger Christianity means there is no one to challenge your false perceptions of God, and we all have them.

  • http://pathees Bonnie

    I understand where Anne is coming from. I love her outspokeness. Most of the Christian relgion was formed by men to control the masts. I no longer want to be controled. Everyone has the right to go on their own path without ridicule as long as not harming and caring is part of the belief.


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