We Are the Church Together
The famed and brilliant author of Interview with the Vampire, Anne Rice, has spoken publicly on her Facebook page. After a Catholic upbringing and the majority of her adult life spent as an atheist, Rice converted back to Catholicism about ten years ago, following the death of her beloved husband, the poet Stan Rice. She wrote a memoir titled Called out of Darkness about her conversion experience that I, unfortunately, have not had the chance to read yet.
I’m a big fan. I read the first vampire book, a book I think is destined to become a classic. I also read her historical novels and the witch novels as well as both of the historical novels she’s written about the life of Jesus. She’s an intelligent and eloquent woman who evokes paintings in one’s mind’s eye with her descriptive writing. She’s also a politically liberal, socially progressive woman who just happens to have a gay son named Christopher, who is also a talented writer of novels. He writes crime fiction.
A few days ago, Anne made headlines when she denounced Christianity on her Facebook page, and the news was broadcast throughout the world. She has since made several other posts that make it clear that her spiritual conversion is very real and still in effect. She considers herself a follower of Christ, but she refuses to align herself with the people who call themselves Christian but preach hate.
I’m not enough of a cynic to believe that Ms. Rice did this for a publicity stunt. I think it was a thoughtful, personal and painful decision that she came to that saddens me. I wish, instead, that she would have come to the conclusion that that’s the very reason to remain a Christian. What will Christianity become if we allow people who think that way to pervert the teachings of Christ in the name of Christ, for their own self-serving, oppressive agendas?
How do we affect change from the outside? The answer is that we don’t. We can’t. I know lots of good Christians who don’t agree with Pat Buchanan or Jerry Falwell or Pat Robertson or James Dobson and their at best, intolerance, or, at worst, hate mongering. I know plenty of good Catholics who are trying to evoke change from the inside. Because, yes, Catholics ARE Christians.
Those of us who believe that Christ is love need to show others, yes, even the idiots who call themselves Christians, just what that means, what it truly looks like in action. We can’t do it by staying in our homes and bitching about the Church and its hypocrisy. We do it by becoming the Church.
I remember a little song from Vacation Bible Church when I was a little girl.
The church is not a building.
The church is not a steeple.
The church is not a resting place.
The church is the people.
I am the church, you are the church, we are the church together.
Here are two other blog posts on this subject, written by better writers than me. I tend to agree with Mr. Rowe’s take on Ms. Rice’s sincerity and Mr. Shore’s criticism on the conclusion she has taken on how to deal with her internal conflict. It saddens me that we may have lost a voice that could have had a powerful impact on the Church to change for the better, both in actuality and in its public perception amongst people of different faiths and non-believers.