Morning Thanks

Garrison Keillor once said we'd all be better off if we all started the day by giving thanks for just one thing. I'll try.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The word "Christian"

Christianity Today features a lengthy interview with the mega-popular novelist Anne Rice, who formerly turned out vampire novels, then converted and has written some much-honored books on the life of Jesus Christ.

Ms. Rice is making the news because she somewhat formally announced that she is renouncing the adjective "Christian" when it's applied to her. "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."

Ms. Rice was reared Catholic, and it was to the Roman Catholic church she returned when she came back to the Christian faith. Apparently, this new resolution includes her not darkening the cathedral door, even though, she says, she will by all means remain a follower of Jesus Christ.

CT casts about for some evil motive--the fact that she has a son who is a gay activist and the possibility of this whole thing being a publicity stunt for a new book. Anne Rice vehemently denies such allegations and insists that she feels a "mounting discomfort with the public face of Christians and Catholics."

I don't know the whole story--maybe her announcement has to do with maintaining a reltionship with her son, maybe it will generate more sales. Maybe. Maybe. Maybe.

But I for one have loads of sympathy for her abandonment of the adjective: in this country at least, the public face of Christianity appears to radiate far more darkness than light.

She's out, she says, a decision which is likely more difficult for a Roman Catholic--she'll miss the mass, of course--than it might be for a Protestant.

Me?--I'm not at odds with my church or my denomination. I'm not leaving. But I certainly understand why Ms. Rice would say she doesn't want to be hung any longer with the associations that particular word communicates--"Christian."

I get that.

I remember a sermon by an old stemwinder, maybe 35 years ago already. He talked about his public embarrassment on a street in Chicago when some sandwich-board street preacher was howling on and on about the Judgment Day coming next Tuesday. You know. The old stemwinder rolled his eyes. Yet, he said, that man was still a brother in Christ.

Maybe so. But that was before talk radio, cable TV, viral e-mail, and Newt Gingrich.

Lord, I believe. Help thou my unbelief.


Joel said...

I certainly get it, too. But then again, I can't help but feel that she comes off a tad, well, self-righteous. Forgive me for judging her judgment, please...

Anonymous said...

Not associating yourself with "organized religion" is so Hollywood. They use that, in my opinion, as a reason why they don't go to church or why they're not followers of Christ, or why the conservative politicians shouldn't be elected. Now, I know she says she is (a follower of Christ) and who am I to know what's in her heart, but saying Christians, as a whole, are intolerant...etc is like Americans thinking that all Muslims are extremists. It's just not so. If standing up for what I believe in (being pro-life, believing that homosexuality is wrong..etc) gives me the label of being intolerant then so be it. Being a Christian isn't easy and isn't popular among many.

Whatever her motives are behind all of this it's not what we think that truely matters anyway. She'll have to answer to Christ as will we all.