[see Anne Rice’s website and Wikipedia entry]. According to the latter: “On April 14, 2013, Rice stated in a Facebook post that she was a secular humanist. On July 28, 2014, Rice stated in a Facebook post that Christ is still central to her life, but not in the way he is presented by organized religion.” So we’re not talking about atheism, but rather, a strong rejection of Catholicism and institutional and doctrinal Christianity (using some of the arguments that atheists habitually use).]
It is important to learn from these instances of deconversion from Christianity, so that we can prevent it from happening to others, and ourselves. The one who doesn’t learn from history (and biography) is doomed to repeat it. When a famous person ditches Christianity (or Catholicism in particular) in public and gives “reasons” for it, then Christians need to show how and why they are not valid reasons, and speak up for our faith that is being dragged through the mud on grossly unfair and unjust grounds.
There are serious lessons to be learned here: along the lines of having an informed, reasonable faith (complete with apologetic knowledge as necessary), and of yielding up our private judgment and personal inclinations to a God and a Church much higher than ourselves. Faith comes ultimately by God’s grace and His grace alone: not our own semi-understandings. Christianity is not “blind faith”; it is a reasonable faith. But there is such a thing as allegiance and obedience to Christian authority, too.
When reason is separated from faith or (on a personal level) never was part of it, “faith” (or the unreasonable facsimile thereof) is empty and open to Satanic and cultural attack, and we are tossed to and fro by the winds and the waves: a cork on the ocean of our decadent, corrupt, increasingly secularist and hedonistic culture. Here is Anne Rice’s own announcements, from her Facebook page:
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. (7-28-10)
As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I’m out. In the name of Christ, 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. (7-28-10)
1) She came back to the Catholic faith in a sort of fideistic way, rather than reasoning it through and using her mind, and exercising a more balanced, reasoned faith. Without the rational backdrop and understanding of why she believed and returned, she was on a foundation of sand. This is why apologetics is important. If we don’t know why we believe what we believe, then later on there may be no reason not to cease believing, since reason had nothing to do with it from the start. If there is no rational reason to believe something, then there can be an ostensibly rational reason to reject the same thing that had no conscious reason for being believed in the first place. Hence, her own fideistic, entirely subjective report of her return to Catholicism in 1996, after having broken with the Church “violently and totally” at age 18:
In the moment of surrender, I let go of all the theological or social questions which had kept me from [God] for countless years. I simply let them go. There was the sense, profound and wordless, that if He knew everything I did not have to know everything, and that, in seeking to know everything, I’d been, all of my life, missing the entire point. No social paradox, no historic disaster, no hideous record of injustice or misery should keep me from Him. No question of Scriptural integrity, no torment over the fate of this or that atheist or gay friend, no worry for those condemned and ostracized by my church or any other church should stand between me and Him. The reason? It was magnificently simple: He knew how or why everything happened; He knew the disposition of every single soul. He wasn’t going to let anything happen by accident! Nobody was going to go to Hell by mistake. (Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, p. 183)
[citing the ELCA’s decision to ordain noncelibate homosexuals] More good news in the story of rights for all gays worldwide. (7-26-10)
Her views will not please all of the devout. Rice favors gay marriage. She believes the church position regarding birth control is a grievous error that is not supported by Scripture. She repudiates what she sees as intolerant, “sex-obsessed” church leaders [Dave: this coming from a former hippie and author of porn and erotica!?], and says she does not find support in the message of Jesus for their focus on sexual orientation or abortion. She argues for a more inclusive church.
“Think of how the church bells would ring and the pews would fill if women could become priests and priests could marry. It would be the great resurgence of the Catholic Church in this country,” Rice said recently, . . .
“He doesn’t say anything about abortion,” Rice said. “He doesn’t say anything about gays. I abhor abortion too. But to make Christianity rise and fall on these issues is a great distortion of Christ’s message.” . . .
As Rice immerses herself in Scripture, many of the things she finds there do not jibe with the dictates of the Vatican or conservative Christians. Like many modern scholars of the Koran, Rice is pointing to her religion’s holy book itself to criticize what she views as its misuse to justify long-held cultural practices.
For example, she said, there is no biblical dictate forbidding women to use birth control.
“I think that’s a mistaken notion,” she said. “There’s a lack of vision about how much better the world would be if women could control their reproductive rights. We have all these street children in underdeveloped countries. We have to bring these countries into the modern era. I think the church has been sex-obsessed too long.” . . .
As a child, Rice said, “I felt the love of God. I wanted to be a priest. When I found out that being a girl meant I couldn’t be, I was so disappointed. I didn’t understand why.” . . .
Rice also viewed church dictates on sin to be harsher to women, though “I have never taken misogyny personally,” she added briskly. “Most people hate women, including women. There are reasons: Fear of women, of the power to give birth.” . . .
. . . her studies of the Scripture have convinced her that many church dictates were created by mortals, not God. . . . She believes the Vatican’s birth-control ban too is a patriarchal anachronism. “It was an obvious advantage for men for women to be passive with regards to procreation,” she said. . . .
Rice believes that conservative Christian politicians are distorting Christ’s message by politicizing such issues as abortion. While abortion is “tragic,” Rice said, “Millions of women are having abortions. They have control of their reproductive powers, and they do not want to relinquish that control. Abortion is at the heart of that, because it’s at the core of women having control of who they are. I think it’s killing. But I think it’s a woman’s choice.”
Gay marriage, she said, “is another classic example. It can only strengthen our society to have gay people in committed relationships rather than going to bars.” (Anne-Marie O’Connor, “Twists of Faith: Anne Rice’s vision of Christianity is reflected in her new book,” Los Angeles Times, 26 December 2005)
3) She was a child of the sexual revolution: even being part of the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene in San Francisco. This affects one. So does years of being an atheist. When one thinks in a certain fashion for many years, it is very difficult to unlearn that and to be “deprogrammed.” It takes a lot of repentance and grace. And so with a few difficult events or doubts, we can lose faith altogether:
When bestselling novelist Anne Rice was a good Catholic girl growing up in New Orleans, she dreamed of becoming a leader of the church. Instead, she abandoned Catholicism at 18 and stopped believing in God. She joined the Haight-Ashbury hippie milieu and evolved into the bestselling author who elevated the sexually ambiguous vampire Lestat to cult status. She wrote pornography under one pen name and erotica under another. . . .
When Rice went away to Texas Woman’s University in 1959, she found that the church’s rigid doctrine was at odds with the growing complexities of her new life. “My background was so sheltered it didn’t seem to sit with the modern world,” Rice said. “I felt I had to deal with my faith and reconcile it with the world around me. My childhood was very sex-obsessed and repressed. I felt when I accepted a world without God, I accepted reality, and stopped believing in illusion.” . . .
Instead, she became fascinated with the existentialists, reading Sartre and Camus. She met Stan Rice, a poet, artist and atheist, and they married in 1961.
Rice’s husband, who was on his way to becoming an acclaimed poet, enrolled at San Francisco State University, where he would eventually chair the creative writing department. They moved to the Haight-Ashbury, but when their apartment filled with hippies, “I was the square. All around me people were taking acid. I had no intention of ever taking it.” (O’Connor, ibid.)
4) She wants to be a Christian in some sense (or so it seems: she is sending mixed signals) but not part of Christianity. This is an insult to other Christians, as if they are not worthy enough to hang around anymore. It’s typical American individualism and refusal to be part of a community; anti-institutionalism. But it is also the uncharitable “holier than thou” / we know better” schismatic, ultra-sectarian and rigorist attitude seen through history in groups like the Donatists and Montanists:
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. 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. (7-29-10)
5) Note that it is not enough for her to cease being a Catholic. She is ditching any other form of communal, denominational Christianity, too. The examples of people expressing actual overt hatred or purported hatred that she cites are not Catholic ones (they are mostly Baptists). There are several liberal denominations where her liberal views would fit right in. But human nature seems to be given to extremes, so she ditches everything, throwing the baby out with the bathwater. The only good thing in this that I can see is that she is being honest and calling a spade a spade: she doesn’t accept what the Catholic Church teaches, so she shouldn’t be a Catholic, in that sense. She never was truly one in the first place, because she didn’t accept the binding and obligatory nature of Catholic doctrines and dogmas:
“People are always going to misuse things. And some Christians are going to misuse Christianity. They are going to use Christianity to hit someone over the head because they frighten them or threaten them,” she said. “We Christians have to get back to our roots as a people of love. Now we’re associated with a religion of intolerance and hate. We have to come forward and speak about love.” (O’Connor, ibid.)
Since some of you mentioned the Westboro Baptist Church in comments below, I thought I’d publish this recent news story about them [describing how they picket soldiers’ funerals and tell parents their children went to hell]. This is chilling. I wish I could say this is inexplicable. But it’s not. That’s the horror. Given the history of Christianity, this is not inexplicable at all. (7-27-10)
6) She cites some expressions of hatred towards homosexuals as a reason to cease being Christian, as if this is representative of one-hundredth of all Christians. Throw the baby out with the bathwater. This is clearly an irrational, emotional move. Her son (novelist Christopher Rice) is a homosexual activist. He has stated:
Since then, “people have come up to me to express their sympathies and condolences, because they assume it goes hand in hand with homophobia, and I’m gay,” he said, with evident amusement. But “in Leviticus, Jesus himself didn’t say anything about homosexuality.” [Jesus in Leviticus? Hmmm] . . .
“What people don’t seem to understand is she explored the darker side of the spiritual realm because she thought there might be some truth there, not to hurt people. Even in her erotica, she says she went there to explore whether there was a spiritual dimension in the flesh. It’s part of the same search.” (O’Connor, ibid.)
That plays into this, too. It’s a straw man:
A) “Christians are the folks who hate homosexuals.”B) Hating homosexuals is wrong and I want no part of it.C) Therefore, I have to cease being a Christian (or at least one in any institutional, communitarian sense).
The religious attacks on gays, to Rice, get to the heart of the flaws she sees in modern religion: the scapegoating of those deemed “sinners.” Jerry Falwell’s statement blaming gays, lesbians, abortion providers and feminists for the Sept. 11 attacks, she said, “was a dreadful thing to say. It’s so crazy to say God will punish our enemies.” (O’Connor, ibid.)
This shocking link [about some group that wants to execute homosexuals] was provided by a poster below. No wonder people despise us, Christians, and think we are an ignorant and violent lot. I don’t blame them. This kind of thing makes me weep. Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian. (7-27-10)
7) She rejects divisiveness and acrimony in the Christian community by being as divisive and acrimonious as she can: splitting altogether, publicly, with disgust, as if Catholicism and larger Christianity are all these caricatured things that she seems to think they are. She doesn’t like divisive people and so she will divide from them. She dislikes intolerance, so she will be quite intolerant and dismissive and prejudiced towards some two billion Christians. This is the attitude of private judgment and sectarianism that is precisely opposed by the Catholic Church, and the very reason why we value doctrinal unity so much. It leads to communitarian unity as well when folks believe the same thing: just as the NT always envisioned the Church to be. But Anne Rice knows better, writing on 7-27-10:
Gandhi famously said: “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” When does a word (Christian) become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?
So her “reasoning” is: “Christians are terrible people. I’m much better than they are, so I need to separate institutionally from all of them, and no longer call myself by their name, so that I am not stained by their ignorance and hatred any longer, and can be an example of loving, truly Christian tolerance towards all people.”
Makes a whole lot of sense, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying that apologetics will be just the thing now. Probably not. Nor am I denying the non-rational components of the faith (I never have at any time). What I am saying was that knowing some apologetics could have prevented a lot of the silly, unfactual things she is saying now. She clearly doesn’t know what she is talking about. If she understood and accepted, e.g., the rationale behind the ban on contraception, then she wouldn’t say the ridiculous things she says about it.
But if one refuses to ever learn the Church’s side on these issues, then it is open season on them by cultural liberalism (sexual and political). I want to make it clear what I claim for apologetics and how it fits in with everything else, because this is often misunderstood. It’s just one tiny area of the faith, but I do think it is a highly important and widely misunderstood one.
I don’t think I have speculated all that much. She has laid out the reasons herself. I’m entitled, as an orthodox Catholic and apologist, to analyze what she has said, and why it doesn’t fly and doesn’t make much sense.
Isn’t it odd how some folks seem to think that any reason to leave Catholicism or larger Christianity is good and profound, but any criticism of same must be judgmental and presumptuous? That’s assuming what it is trying to prove, of course . . . that being a Christian is somehow a “bad” thing, so that leaving it is good.
My post was mentioned on Anne Rice’s website. She stated there, about it (on 8-8-10): “Here’s a rather critical, and well written discussion of my leaving organized religion for Christ.”
I commend her for reading my post, noting it, making the link, and even complimenting my writing (I am humbled by that, coming from such a well-known novelist). That was classy, given how critical I was.
For my part, I want to stress that this is nothing personal whatsoever against her. It is a principled disagreement about a public declaration that has widespread consequences (and therefore is worthy of a critique). I would enjoy corresponding or even talking to her in person, I think. It doesn’t have to be a personal, acrimonious thing. I reject the notion of thinking that because we strongly disagree with someone, somehow we must despise or even hate them. This is simply not true, and self-evidently so. And I believe I prove this in hundreds of my own dialogues with people I disagree with.
But some folks don’t seem to be able to comprehend that, and so in the name of tolerance and lovey-dovey ersatz “togetherness,” I am now being trashed up and down for expressing my Catholic views. I am supposedly intolerant (which is untrue) and so I must be treated with the utmost contempt and intolerance. Somethin’ just ain’t right there, is it?
I’m not supposed to do give any counter-opinion. I’m supposed to just lay down and die and wither at the sight of a critique of not only Catholicism but all institutionalized religion. If I don’t don’t crawl in a hole and “shut up,” it proves (beyond any doubt) that I am an intolerant jerk who has no charity or grace . . . See how it works? We Christians must never get too uppity.
And again I hasten to add that these thoughts are not coming from Anne Rice (though some things she says may be seen as implying them to some extent, in a broad fashion, insofar as she extrapolates from extreme fringe types to all organized Christianity), but rather, from a lot of those who are defending her decision.
[the following is my response to an avalanche of hyper-critical, insulting rhetoric against me from defenders of Anne Rice on her page]
The comments received thus far are remarkable and astounding insofar as they are almost completely irrational and devoid of any counter-point reasoning whatever. It’s all personal attack and sanctimonious lecturing and/or subjective, relativistic mush. In my opinion this confirms (if not proves) my point all the more — rather spectacularly so –: she seems to have reverted to Catholicism in a fideistic, irrational fashion. She left the faith in the same fashion, and those who defend it exhibit the same irrational mindset. It’s all of a piece.
Also quite striking and ironic is the fact that all of a sudden, her followers now savage me when I am simply defending the Church that Anne Rice herself gave public allegiance to as recently as two weeks ago. How is it, I wonder, that all these “followers” can switch on a dime and now attack the Catholic Church with such vigor? It seems to me that they have more allegiance to Anne Rice than they do to Christianity itself.
If she stops on a dime and changes direction, they do, too, right along with her: both blissfully free of sufficient reasoning to do so. This is akin to the behavior of those in brainwashing religious cults, not rational free agents who ponder deeply the most important things in life (spiritual matters). Indeed, one of her followers, Alice B. Toklas, states this outright (in replying to my paper):
I think your reasons are valid, and justified. I would also support you completely if tomorrow you said to everyone, “I’m returning to Christianity.” Just like I supported you before you left. Unconditional means unconditional.
First, we saw some replies on my own blog, of folks who want to defend Anne Rice, and who came over here after reading about my post on her site (comments of mine below will be in blue, and bracketed):
Jason Until The Church changes more people will be following in her footsteps, especially where civil – not religious – gay marriage is concerned. The Church could take some lessons from Anne. [it is precisely the fact that we don’t follow whims and fashions and popular trends, that we have a credible claim of presenting unchanging moral truths]
Eastiopians You are so judgmental [and of course he isn’t], and could use more Christ and less religion in your beliefs as well. Why are you so threatened by her desire to stick with Christ but walk away from organized religion [why is every mere difference of opinion so often immediately “psychologized” these days?] Why does that make you feel weak and need to fight for this organization at the expense of her character as a person and a believer? If you truly believe in what you are doing and where you are, then you don’t need to knock others down to show your support for what you are doing. Where is your grace?
Greg Gibbs . . . You lack understanding, humility, humbleness [is there a difference between the last two things?] and are all too quick to judge. I am not here to remind you what is sin and what is not…I am telling you that when people are trying to illegalize what they (and God?) perceive as ‘sin’..they are taking “God-Given Free Will’ away from others…not a very Christian thing to do. Can you love those who are not putting change in your pocket or persecute you? Having what you perceive as an all divine relationship with God almighty does not constitute you having ‘Love for mankind’ by constantly feeling the need to wash the blood of others off your hands.’ How important you must be ;) Your article is well written, kudos on that. It ‘lacks’ non-biased judgement for all too like-minded persuasive ears. Come before your Christ as a child. Sadly, these days most pulpits are nothing more than ‘meal-tickets’ for hot heads who feel ‘the calling.’ God love the ‘Religious Narcissists’ lol (don’t expect to see this posted without a few typical arguments in which I am prepared for, if it’s even posted at all) [surprise! Here it is again]
Jason at least was civil (kudos). Now let’s look at many of the 83 comments (as of this writing) over on Anne Rice’s Facebook page (see if you can locate any cogent reasoning, in-between all the cogent attacks).
Susan Roberts What a ass that guy is. I personally don’t believe in hell, but that we can create our own hell here on earth. I also believe that we choose the life we live before we are born for the benefit of raising our souls awareness, it is the only way I can justify all the pain and suffering in the world throughout our history. I also believe that the Bible is a book written by men not God. Organised religion is just another form of slavery. [and disorganized religion is just another form of modern mindless silliness]
Alice B Toklas I tried to read this before starting my paperwork, but I don’t really want to hear all that. I started hearing Charlie Browns teacher in my head,. ” Brahh, Blah, bla, baaa..”
Liz Hughes Wiley . . . the argument….yeah, well-thought-out within a very narrow sphere. It becomes a rant after a while, to me. Too much picking on your Bay Area background (horreur!), your hotsy early writings (ScanDAL!! What sensuality from…a woman!!) [see my comment one entry below] It’s a case where the person is using you to represent something that you probably don’t even resemble — says more about the writer — but then, writing usually does, doesn’t it?
Troy Hawkins I thought this was absolute bilge, It starts out that no possible reason could be valid for leaving the church, He accuses Ms Rice of bing dismissive but that is a pretty dismissive statement, She never said that all Christians hate homo…sexuals. . . . As for writing about her erotica writings etc, That was pure character assassination. The whole article was nasty [I actually wrote only one short sentence about that, and didn’t (technically) condemn it. It was noted that Rice thought the Church was “sex-obsessed”. I made one sharp, ironic, turn-the-tables retort: “this coming from a former hippie and author of porn and erotica!?” I didn’t even initially describe it as “porn.” That was the word used in other articles. I know nothing about her writings; having never read them. But for one who has written erotica and “porn” to carp on about Catholics being “sex-obsessed” was far too precious and humorous and utterly beyond whatever powers I possess, to resist . . . ]
Kevin Higgs If I had to believe to suit and please this Right-Wing idiot who wrote these comments about you, I would leave the Christian Faith, too. Thank God he doesn’t speak for me. I am a follower of Jesus… I would have nothing to do with any thing that man is affiliated with.
MaryEllen O’Brien I’m suspicious of anyone who proudly states “I don’t read fiction” [I didn’t “proudly” state it at all. I simply stated it. In fact, many times, I have stated that this non-interest in fiction is an admitted deficiency of mine. Therefore, I could hardly be “proud” of it] to lead off a discussion of a writer’s faith, about whom he knows nothing [it is irrelevant how much of Rice’s writing I know, in critiquing her own stated reasons for no longer being a Catholic]. Except apparently just enough to fully judge the writer as anti-intellectual. Wow! [I never said she was “anti-intellectual”; I argued that in matters of faith she did not sufficiently apply reason to it; in other words, she was a fideist] Fiction is the source of great inspiration and is more truthful than much non-fiction. And arguably, much of the Bible is in truth, fictional, albeit to make a truth point. [I totally agree that fiction is a great thing. Just because I don’t read it doesn’t nullify that point. I never ever implied such a silly thing. My two favorite writers: C. S. Lewis and G. K. Chesterton wrote much fiction. But I prefer their non-fiction] Everything starts with a story, as Joseph Campbell said. If the blogger believes all the dogma and doctrine passing forth from the throne of Peter (Peter would be appalled at that language) he is indeed a reader of fiction. And can’t seem to separate the two. [Right. Great non-argument . . . ] Sit him next to someone who proudly and with superiority [really?] also says, “I don’t watch t.v.,” and let them pontificate amongst themselves while the rest of us go read some darn good stories. [I get stories through the medium of film, which is based on stories. If not for film, I’m sure I would read fiction. But since film is here, I prefer that medium (with profuse apologies to MaryEllen for my shortcomings). Different strokes. I’m not judging anyone who likes fiction. But I sure am being judged, ain’t I? It’s all perfectly irrelevant to the dispute at hand] Jesus, I recall, was a master storyteller. And the parables were, ahem, fictionalized accounts intended to portray a truth. [absolutely, but so what? I never denied this (nor would I ever), so it is a non sequitur]
D Craig Graham First of all….”Biblical Evidence”….and this is backed up how? [by the Bible, of course! Duh! . . .] A bunch of guys writing their version? Men are disappointing…and (sadly) I believe when we die…the moment our eyes shut…we realize, “Well….it was all fluff….so long.”
Bea Westrate The author seems to think we need to learn something and he’s the only one who can teach us. [no evidence presented for this extraordinarily judgmental conclusion . . .] Fortunately we also know many things about these matters. He also claims to know Anne’s process of returning to and leaving the church. [no; I only claim to know her stated reasons, and I do draw what I believe are fairly plausible deductions from her own remarks] Unfortunately he ignores the only evidence that matters — Anne’s own thoughtful, reasoned comments. [that’s exactly what I have examined, so I have no idea what this statement means] Not only that, the author acts like his beliefs and definitions are the only correct ones. I’ve known many people like that; every one of them was unsure of themselves. [more pop pseudo-psychoanalysis . . .] I found the title amusing. There is no Biblical evidence for any of the Christian denominations, including the Baptist church I grew up in. Faith is always independent of church attendance. [right; “always” huh?] When it comes to matters of faith we answer to the Goddess (or who/what you believe in). [if there is a God, surely He is a Goddess . . . who could doubt it?] Thank you Anne for your honesty about this. It clearly resonated with many people.
Ian Robert Soule I couldn’t read that entire article. He sounds like my [secular university] philosophy textbook. [I’ll take that as a compliment. Thanks! But of course, no rational interaction is found here, either . . .]
Michael Medicine Crow Iott Hmmm. Well written. But again I must apply Occam’s Razor. [Occam’s Razor included biblical revelation as well, according to Occam himself. What he actually wrote was: “For nothing ought to be posited without a reason given, unless it is self-evident (literally, known through itself) or known by experience or proved by the authority of Sacred Scripture.” Right from the horse’s mouth . . .] If one accepts the writer’s assumptions about faith and spirituality his arguments make perfect sense. But do not accept his assumptions. So, it does not. [I was writing for those who are Christians, anyway, so this is irrelevant] And I am not inclined to debate it with him (having spent a lot of time and energy doing so in the past and now I’m content to let these guys live in their bubble). [he’s not alone, obviously . . .]
Carrie Hyman I can’t call an article that full of faulty logic well written. [no rational argument given as to why she thinks this, of course]
Micah J Brubaker To be honest I think that whole bit on having to “defend your faith” is complete BS. Especially if the religion is Christianity. I was raised in a Christian family, and even though I do not consider myself one, I am pretty sure I have plenty of knowledge of it. [he’s off to a bad start proving that to us, since the Bible has quite a bit about the duty of proclaiming and defending the faith] In regards to being a Christian, the religion centers its self on faith in God, the belief that Jesus is his only begotten son and died on the cross for us, having a “personal relationship” with Jesus.(In some cases being God,) and Abstinence. No were in the Bible have I ever read that you need to defend your faith. All you need to do is believe that Jesus is your savior and your set… but thats a broad statement… [it’s good to admit one’s ignorance]
Gene Rhim What I noticed about the writer is his definition of Christianity is limited to the known apologetic logic which requires a unilaterally reasoned argument based on theological groups. [really? I must have missed my own alleged definition] The problems with this sort of theology (IMHO) are:
1.) the exclusion of other possible definitions of Christianity which may still be far more encompassing (and less judgmental) of others. [Catholicism has a long accepted definition and nature. Mrs. Rice claims to have adopted the Catholic faith]
2.) It also (seems to me) to be an arrogant stance because the logic assumes that it knows the Will of God by His Word. Who can by socratic argument know the Infinite will of God? Or for that matter can anyone of us know anything truly about another person’s will by what is written? If you read a book by Anne Rice do you know Anne Rice? Or what she has planned for her next book? I think not.[melodramatic, irrelevant silliness; extreme caricature of an opposing position] . . .
4.) If arguments are the basis of faith then what about the presence of the Holy Spirit? Are we to forsake that? [the usual irrational pitting of faith against reason, as if they are antithetical] If we feel moved to pick up our things, go somewhere because the Holy Spirit moves us and speak what we are meant to speak, to give witness to God’s love, and it is not in line with what is considered apologetically sound then are we to refrain? Isn’t this a repeat of the same issues that Christ faced when he was criticized by the community for healing on a Sabbath? [to argue that the Bible speaks nowhere of a Church and of obedience to some ecclesiastical authority, is an extreme position of cluelessness as to what the Bible teaches. Christians disagree on the nature of the Church (ecclesiology) but they rarely express an opinion that there is no church at all, as if we are all lone rangers under God] So I bristle whenever someone gives a “good” argument based on “sound” apologetic discourse. It strikes me as too similar to the same issues faced by Christ and the pharisees: white washed coffins who have all the answers but not the spirit which is the living truth. [pseudo-pietistic nonsense . . . ] . . . Apologetics dwells on words written in the past. [okay, let’s toss the Bible, too, then] Unfortunately, that leads one to become enslaved by reasoned arguments based on interpretations of the living truth. [more false dichotomies] . . . Sorry for the babbling. [admitting a fault is the first step to recovery . . .]
Linda Jones His arguments were well-reasoned, but they made me squirm. He doesn’t account for the human heart, the wanting to belong or the spiritual journey. [this makes the false assumption that because something wasn’t mentioned in one context, it is therefore disbelieved in all] I understand why you came back to Catholicism and why you left. [perhaps she can explain this to all of us then] . . . I think this author cannot fathom that many of us reject the institutions of Christianity because they are bastardizations of Christ’s teachings. [in other words, God is too weak to sustain and establish even one Church (or even a creed or confession) that can truly preserve His teachings] His use of apologetics strains credulity.
Mylene Masangkay I guess you were being polite when you said that this article is well written. It’s just a pointless, narrow-minded excuse for an analysis. But that’s Catholicism for you, expecting you to never contest anything said by the Powers That Be.
Emily Savidge I couldn’t even finish reading it. He was so smug; the page just oozed the stuff. Ugh. After reading through too many personal digs, I just stopped reading. He is clearly afraid of something because it sounds like a thinly-veiled personal attack And cowards attack when they can’t get you to think their way. Who cares what he thinks? [who cares about making rational counter-replies anymore? Let’s just do the personal attack thing and preach to the choir . . . that’s how “discussion” proceeds nowadays in most Internet venues. True dialogue is as dead as a doornail and as understood as Sanskrit] I hope Anne doesn’t.
Jen Redman Have to say I missed the discussion portion of the article. All I saw was him taking your quotes and contemptuously using air quotes, rolling eyes and sarcastic hmmmms. He didn’t issue a valid argument as to why he thinks your decision to leave Christianity is wrong. He never addressed abortion, gay marriage, mysogyny, or any of your problems with Christianity.
Melissa Lucey Teel I think one of those people who is uncomfortable with uncertainty and needs everything in its proper place and structure
There has to be some way to fight against revelation and saving faith, so personal attacks and character judgments are enlisted. There are time-honored stereotypes of Christian believers. Sadly, true examples can be found, but extrapolating to the entire mass of Christians and making some pseudo-principle out of it is ludicrous.
(originally 7-30-10 and 8-9-10)
Photo credit: Anne Rice in 2006 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]