Friday, July 30, 2010

The Deconversion of Novelist Anne Rice: Straw Men, "Baby / Bathwater" Mentality, Sexual Liberalism, and Disposable Irrational Faith

By Dave Armstrong (7-30-10)

I don't read fiction and so this isn't "personal" to me at all, in terms of reaction or disappointment, etc. Anne Rice was as unknown to me as the man in the moon. I think I had heard her name before, but that's about it. But I note that her "reasoning" for her move fits the usual sad template all down the line.

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)

2) She obviously was a dissident all along, on many of the social / sexual issues (pro-abortion, homosexual "marriage", feminism, contraception, female priests). Like many libertarians and sexual liberals, then, she placed that allegiance higher than the Church, since she refused to accept and submit herself to Church teaching (which is part of the package and meaning of being a Catholic in the first place: we have an authoritative Church). There are millions like her out there. There is an old saying that "all heresy begins below the belt." She openly explains all this in her own words:

[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."

(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)

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."

(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)

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."

(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)
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).

But the false premise in #1 is the problem. Very few Christians of any stripe that I have ever met (and I've moved in many different Christian circles for 33 years) "hate" homosexuals or anyone else. So to use this as a pretext for abandoning Christianity is a cop-out. She is abandoning what she falsely thinks is Christianity / Catholicism:

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."

(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)

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?


Teófilo de Jesús said...

Good job Dave! I also wrote a short post about her. Unlike you, I've read several of her works, written reviews, and briefly corresponder with her. You and your readers may read my opinion here.


Dave Armstrong said...

Hi buddy! I hope you are doing well these days, and I have prayed for you and your special request you mentioned a while back.

I still remember with great fondness our one-time get-together in person. That was classic!

I thought your review was very well done. You came at it from a very different but equally important angle. Your angle will be the one that can possibly bring her back if she ever does return. Mine would likely anger her, but I am writing far more for others: to prevent them from following the same course.

It's the difference between "public critique [of bad ideas]" and "pastoral concern [for a person whom God created in His image]."

Maurício said...

She is lying on most parts. And what she said was pre-prepared texts (maybe not prepared by her at all) to cause some reaction on people (or most precise on the media).

Maurício said...

Probably its being a long time that she is not a "almost catholic" anymore, but was lying all this time to, when the time was right (probably when she received a order) she published this.
My guess (it is only a guess, I don't know this Anne Rice) is that she belongs to one of this secret cults that lots of the famous artists belong, the ones that reveal the "secret truth", like the masons for example (but a version that admits womans). And then that she received a order to do this from the "bad guys" who control the world.

Stan Williams said...

Great analysis, Dave. Thanks so much. I didn't want to take the time to go through the many logical and linguist fallacies she tripes out. I heard recently that she has gone through a bedfast illness. Perhaps she's going thorough a delusion. Nothing in these posts makes logical sense nor is it cogent with her recent writing. For all the research she has done for her books, her understanding of Christianity (if we're to believe these posts) is near the stupid range of reason. I've read a lot of her work, both before and after being a revert to Catholicism. Her description of her early Catholic childhood in CALLED OUT OF DARKNESS is enough to bring back traditional Catholic devotion. It's beautiful. It's almost as if she had her ignorant son (Jesus in Leviticus) write this stuff. Time will tell. As Dr. Ray says, the scariest understanding of God in the world today is when a person says, "I love God because he's just like me." What total idiots.

Matheus F. Ticiani said...

Great post indeed, Dave, and quite a sad story...

To me personally, the lesson to be learned from all this is where to keep one's expectations whenever one of these media popstars/Hollyweird personalities claim they've "discovered God", had a "spiritual awakening", and such.

Dave Armstrong said...

Thanks for the kind words and good insights.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Part 1

I find this whole situation rather interesting in a limited sort of way. Like you, Dave, I knew her name and knew that she had written a number of Vampire novels (none of which I've read) and also had converted to Catholicism at some point in the '90s.

But it's also fascinating to me how easy it is to discern from her own statements which definitions of terms she has embraced. Let me break down a few of the statements.

1) Anti-gay. This undoubtedly means that if you do not accept a gay lifestyle as being a valid, God-honouring way to live, then you hate them. No matter how you actually feel about the gay individuals you may actually know in your personal life (I know several), and in fact like and even love, if you're not on board with the political left's agenda, you can only be a hater. On the left there is only one way to approach an issue, and any other is "hateful."

2) Anti-feminist. Now this is interesting. At least she didn't say "anti-woman." If she had equated those two things, then that would be more than disturbing. But as it is, being opposed to the feminist (political) movement, again, Christians are haters. Never mind that we think there is a better way to improve things for women where necessary than is currently offered by radical feminism. If we don't embrace feminism (as currently practised) then we are haters.

3) Anti-Democrat. She cannot be something she is not. I may be anti-Democrat policies, but they are the bread and butter of her own worldview. Again, if you're against Democrat policies, if you think there is a better way to address the same problems, you're a hater. Besides, I'm not so much anti-Democrat as I am anti-leftist. Never mind that I know several people that I admire, respect, and yes, love, who come from a completely different political view than my own. Do I break Christian fellowship with them over politics when we otherwise agree on so much doctrinally? (That's rhetorical).

4) Anti-life. I don't even know what this means, aside from a libertarian "live and let live" mentality. Or perhaps it's in reference to the death penalty, war, law enforcement, or any number of other leftist bugaboos. To my way of thinking, anyone who kills a baby in the womb is anti-life. Yet I think this statement is telling, if I have it pegged right.

What's common to all these statements from Rice is that since Christians have the unmitigated temerity to be opposed to particular behaviours, regardless of our love for the people who do them, then we cannot ever have anything positive to offer. One wonders, really, if Rice actually is acquainted with any true believers, whether Catholic or Protestant, or if she merely has adopted a political worldview and has tried to fit her acquaintances into that template. Square peg in the round hole. What it seems to boil down to is, "anything goes." Whatever you feel like doing, if that is what your heart is telling you, then that is what you should do and the world or other people, or even the Christ of the Scriptures, along with His Bride, be damned.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Part 2

In addition, I'm not sure where Rice would have gotten this "lone Ranger" attitude when it comes to Christ's Church. This can be prominent in American Evangelicalism of the Arminian variety, but she being Catholic, I can't quite understand it. It's more in tune with the rugged individualism of the American Protestant work ethic than anything I can see in Catholicism. Where would she have picked this up? Perhaps it was from her undoubtedly diverse political reading; like someone I know once said, "I follow diverse opinions; I read Time and Newsweek."

Reformed theology embraces Ephesians 5:25-27. I'm not touting my own faith here, I just want to demonstrate that both Catholicism and Reformed theology (Calvinism, if you prefer) stress the need to understand salvation in a corporate sense:

25 Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, 26 that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, 27 so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.

In (Conservative) Presbyterianism, the ongoing salvation process is played out in corporate public worship through the congregation's singing, prayer, attention to preaching of the Word, and the celebration of the Lord's Supper and Christian baptism.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Part 3

It seems to me that Rice has a very low view of God's holiness, and thus sin and its consequences. This propels her to embark on a quest of "leaving people alone" to do what they do and not to make any demands of them in the Name of the One King who has claimed and adopted them. In the end, all Rice has done, really, is to demonstrate that she wants a Jesus Christ and a Bride of Christ that suits her presuppositions and political agenda. She does not want to be changed by Christ; she wants Him and His people to conform to her image of Him and His people.

Dave Armstrong said...

Superb, insightful, stuff, Tim. Kudos for expressing it so eloquently. This is a very troubled woman. We all need to pray for her.

Suburbanbanshee said...

This sort of situation isn't really something to be solved by apologetics. It would have been helpful if she'd learned more about the Church's position on issues, and how that evolved, and why it is good and reasonable, yes. But when you're flailing about and lost in the drama, the only apologetics that are likely to work are love and time. (Possibly supplemented by heaping helpings of Catholic practices that sink into you at the emotional level, like good music; or more substantial stuff like daily Mass, prayer, and Eucharistic adoration.)

I love apologetics myself, and it's a wonderful hammer; but I suspect Rice is a staple or a paperclip, not a nail. We can't forget that there are non-rational sorts of comprehension, and that often, people need that foundation before they can start listening to reason.

Dave Armstrong said...

I agree completely with the previous comment. 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 was 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 already agreed that apologetics would not be the thing that would bring her back now, when I wrote above, replying to the first comment:

"You came at it from a very different but equally important angle. Your angle will be the one that can possibly bring her back if she ever does return. Mine would likely anger her, but I am writing far more for others: to prevent them from following the same course.

"It's the difference between 'public critique [of bad ideas]' and 'pastoral concern [for a person whom God created in His image].'"

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.

Suburbanbanshee said...

Oh, I totally agree. She's a writer and knows how to do research, so her failure to research the Church's reasons makes it fairly clear that she was rejecting the rational.

But then, you don't see too many atheists raising objections to the seven days of Genesis and then saying, "Let's go to Augustine's Quaestiones and twenty other prominent Biblical commentators from throughout Christian history, to see what range of interpretations I can get from Christians on these points of difficulty. Because obviously this stuff must have occurred to someone before."

Rational investigation and research usually gets treated like the redheaded stepchild by those feeling stressed or clever. :(

Dave Armstrong said...

I've added additional material regarding Rice's comments since her announcement. Same old same old irrationalism and "gay rights," etc. . . .

Jason said...

Dave - I enjoyed your message but most of your arguments regarding her decision are assumptions possibly based on your own bias regarding her upbringing and previous beliefs. Its also sad to see some people make comments to denigrate her simply because she has made a different decision. The Christian Church, and even more specifically the Catholic Church has a history of blood on its hands - its far from perfect, and often its impossible to differentiate its followers from anyone else in the world. An analysis of her leaving is welcome, but let's refrain from assuming we know WHY she left, probably filtered through our own bias and ignorance, other than the reasons she has given us. She seems to have done a great deal of thinking on this matter. 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.

Eastiopians said...

You are so judgmental, 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 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?

Jason said...

@ Pilgrimsarboar

You said:

"she wants a Jesus Christ and a Bride of Christ that suits her presuppositions and political agenda."

In my experience, that's what all Christians do - they want a Jesus that suits their presuppositions and political agendas! At least that's what most Christians seem to do - whether its a Christ that would have allowed gay marriage or one that would not, Christians align themselves to Churches that preach something they do/want to believe. Even Christians who say otherwise are probably fooling themselves - their churches are feeding an inner need - Christians look for churches or faiths or beliefs that satisfy their own needs - seems obvious

gretchenj173 said...

A relationship with God through belief on Jesus as Saviour and Lord is what defines Christianity. It is a supernatural relationship, not based on anything earthly, including earthly reason.
The organization called 'church', ecclesia, is NOT what the Bible defines church -- which is the body of Christ. And the prioritized emphasis on intellect in matters of faith has taken God out of the equation, leaving 'faith' in human terms, which also is unBiblical.
Focusing on Jesus, obedience to Him and following His commands is what the real 'Church' is supposed to be doing, and is not. Leaving the unBiblical organization behind and focusing on Jesus and obedience to Him IS Christianity, according to the Bible, and Jesus. Intellectualism in faith is idolatry, and violates the Greatest Commandment that Jesus gave, Matthew 22, and the 1st commandment that God gave, Exodus 20.
Perhaps if those who claim to be Christians would obey Jesus, in love and gratitude, there would be less leaving and instead be more fellowship of God's kind.

Pilgrimsarbour said...


...they want a Jesus that suits their presuppositions and political agendas!

There's no doubt that that is true, at least sometimes, if not often. The difference here is that Ms. Rice seems neither interested in submitting her understanding to ultimate authorities, as the Christian must, nor in the corporate nature of salvation. Christ died not only for individuals, but for His Church, His Bride, as well (cf. Ephesians 5). One does not have the luxury of dismissing fellow believers for the sake of one's own self-actualising morality. She has set herself up as the final arbiter of morality for her life, which is, as you point out, not unique to her. However, pointing to the (similar) sins of others is not the proper and rational way of dealing with her specific issues and is merely a distraction, a deflection from the hard work of dealing with the problems at hand.

Gregstal said...

A great problem with church leaders and evangelists of all types is their unrelentlessness to tell people 'what their relationship with God should be like.' I am not suggesting the Holy Bible is an 'idea'...I am suggesting to you that you learn a thing or two about 'Spiritual discernment' and recognize that even though there may be one truth and one God, everyone has their own unique relationship with him. Between the 'Hellfire and Brimstone' type and the 'New-Age Tickle-Your-Ears''s no wonder those who actually seek a relationship with God are confused. Let us remember that 'Above all, Love is the Greatest.' You lack understaning, humility, humblness 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?) percieve 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 percieve as an all devine 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 'Relgious Narcissists' lol(dont expect to see this posted without a few typical arguments in which I am prepared for, if it's even posted at all)

Trent Brown said...

Jesus in Leviticus: some of you (author of the article as well) misunderstood Anne's son's comment regarding Jesus in Leviticus. Christopher Rice knows that Jesus is not in the old testament. Chris was saying that Leviticus denounces homosexuality (and he is a homosexual), but he was making the point that Jesus was not the one denouncing homosexuality, rather it was the author of the old testament book of Leviticus. I hope that clear it up.

Teófilo de Jesús said...

Thank you for your comments, and prayerful support, Dave. The situation remains unchanged and doesn't look good.

Sorry I was unable to interact earlier, I've been insanely busy and it's not over yet. More to come, I'll let you know.


Jason said...


There's no doubt that that is true, at least sometimes, if not often. The difference here is that Ms. Rice seems neither interested in submitting her understanding to ultimate authorities, as the Christian must, nor in the corporate nature of salvation. Christ died not only for individuals, but for His Church, His Bride, as well (cf. Ephesians 5). One does not have the luxury of dismissing fellow believers for the sake of one's own self-actualising morality.

I think Ann is quite willing to submit herself to Christ as she understands him - you and some others understand him a different way - is he not the ultimate authority? And what is the church, really? We could spend hours discussing this issue without either of us agreeing with the other.

Ann is not dismissing all of Christ's other believers - she is removing herself from a group whose leaders, if I understand her correctly, she believes have taken a wrong path. I think she is courageous to do so - and even more now looking at all the foul things being said about her by some (not you) so-called "believers"

Dave Armstrong said...

Jason: . . . let's refrain from assuming we know WHY she left, probably filtered through our own bias and ignorance, other than the reasons she has given us.

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.

Dave Armstrong said...

Was this piece mentioned on Anne Rice's website or something? All of a sudden I have gotten a slew of comments (mostly defending her). That suggests to me that this was mentioned either there or at some other site that gets lots of hits.

Can anyone clue me in? Or I can do a Google search, I reckon . . .

And there is no need to respond to all the personal attacks and judgments on my heart and my Christianity because I dared to critique a lousy argument against institutional Christianity.

Sorry to disappoint Gregstal and perhaps a few others . . .

And I do believe in free speech . Thanks for all the comments, whether they attack me or Catholicism or Christianity or not. Everyone is welcome here to comment.

Dave Armstrong said...

My post was indeed mentioned on Anne Rice's website. She stated there, about it (with a link; 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.

Dave Armstrong said...

Here is a link to her comment on my post, with comments. There are 82 thus far (as of 1:30 PM EST 8-9-10). Shortly (after a late lunch and a few other things I gotta do) I'll document some of the examples of the marvelously charitable, tolerant remarks, and see if I can find any that actually offer rational interaction (I don'[t expect it but I'll be ecstatic if I am pleasantly surprised).

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I think Ann is quite willing to submit herself to Christ as she understands him - you and some others understand him a different way - is he not the ultimate authority?

You talk about Him as if He is not real but merely some manifestation of the collective psychological desires, hopes and dreams of mankind, ready to be molded by the individual's personalised conception of reality and morality. Of course He is the ultimate authority. But the authorities He has established as a guide for our lives are His Word (the Bible) and His Church, both of which Ms. Rice seems to reject; or perhaps it's fair to say she rejects the parts that she doesn't like because they are too challenging to her self-established world view. If she believes that morality is relativistic and conventional (and I don't know that she does) as is the popular thought trend today, then she has abandoned the idea of objective absolute morality as it is to be found in Christ Jesus and as it is expressed objectively through the special revelation of His Word.

And yes, Catholics and Protestants disagree about how those mechanisms all work out in our lives (I am Presbyterian). But where does Ms. Rice derive her "understanding" of Christ if not through His Word and His Church? I'll say it again. If she does not derive her understanding of who Jesus is and what He expects of us from His Word and from His Church, then she is making Him up as she goes along, based upon her own conception of morality, not the Bible's, and certainly not her (former) Church's. Instead, Ms. Rice's "understanding of Christ," in my view, reflects a rather low view of the nature of man's sin on the one hand and the absolute holiness of God on the other. In any case, when we reject Christ's appointed means of grace through His Word and His Church, we reject the very Christ we claim to love and follow in favour of a Christ made in our own image.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

Re-posted for typo corrections. Sorry, I just can't stand typos in my posts if I spot them. ;-)


I read quite a few of the comments over at Ms. Rice's Facebook page. Most of the folks there appear to have a superficial understanding of Christianity, if they embrace it at all. I don't think it would be profitable for them or us to post comments there. In addition, they seem to be quite an emotional lot. I don't think we would be able to appeal to anyone there (except Ms. Rice) on an intellectual level. I'm not at all saying they're stupid people, just folks that are driven primarily by emotion rather than intellect. Not a one that I read actually interacted with the substance of your article, but rather heaped insults on you for having the nerve to disagree with Ms. Rice and them. You, Dave, are primarily an intolerant bigot.

Now if anyone comes over here to comment, then that is probably someone who is actually interested in having a discussion, is open to considering viewpoints other than their own, and is actually tolerant of opposing ideas. At least I hope that is the case.


Dave Armstrong said...

Yep. I'm going through them now and compiling extensive excerpts for a new post, and that is what I am finding, too. It's disconcerting to find such widespread irrationality concerning matters of the Christian faith. I knew this was the case, but it is still distressing to see it firsthand.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I found God, but that doesn't mean that I have to be a supporting member of any organized religion.

She supports, however, unorganised religion? What exactly does that look like?

While abortion is "tragic," Rice said, "Millions of women are having abortions."

If abortion is a woman's right and she is not killing a human being when she vacuum-sucks the unwanted parasite from her womb, then why is it tragic? So as long as many people are doing a thing it's okay?

I think it's killing. But I think it's a woman's choice."

Oops. How's that again? She thinks it's killing, and I presume she means the murder of an innocent human being, but because a woman (indeed, millions of them) chooses to do it it's all right?

These types of inconsistent and irrational statements truly shine a spotlight on the shoddy, anti-intellectual approach of the left to some of our gravest societal concerns on which they regularly and intolerably pontificate. Ms. Rice's statements remind me of some of the most incoherent things I've heard people like Nancy Pelosi say about abortion: "Let's keep abortion legal, safe and rare." If there's nothing wrong with abortion, if it's not the taking of innocent human life, then why legislate in such a way as to "keep it rare?"

Gregstal said...

@ the comment write "I think it's killing, but it's a woman's choice." sum up what you percieve as Anne's belief.

Like the decision to make a 'CHOICE' to come to God or not, everything in life is a choice. Sadly, in the the case of abortion, we are talking about 'the life of an unborn/unwanted baby.'

I don't agree with abortion being used as a form of contraception or birth control,...but when a teenage girl (who is not her own legal guardian) become prenant and her death may result in the process of her live birth because her body is not developed enough to carry full term..a responsible guardian has to intervene and make decisions best suited for the minor. I put a lot of time, drawing this 'what if' scenario out..but keep in mind, that these types of situations, including incest, leave the door open for the limited few to make the 'Choice.'

It's sort of like you having the right to vote on Gay Tom who lives in Alaska to deny him and Fred their equal right to marriage. Your children will have to start learning words like 'tollerance'..'equality'..and 'love.' The word 'faggot' will no longer be acceptable use of language from children who take their parents way of thinking to school. lol We have the right to agree, disagree and live our 'own' lives the way we 'chose.' (there's that way again)...but never were we merrited the Godly or Human right to pre-destine and control the lives of others. Even God gave us free will (this is why sin exists)...persuade all you want..dont 'force.'

Pilgrimsarbour said...

The word 'faggot' will no longer be acceptable use of language from children who take their parents way of thinking to school.

There's very little more offensive to me than to say that everyone who disagrees with you on the issue of gay marriage hates gays and uses this kind of disgusting language. My gay friends would be very disturbed to find out that I secretly hate them and call them "faggots" behind their backs.

Oh wait...they know my beliefs regarding their lifestyle and the gay marriage issue and yet accept me as I am. Hmmm. Perhaps you could grow up a bit and learn something from them since you're not tolerant enough to learn anything from me.

Gregstal said...

'Learn something from them since I will not learn something from you?'

We're getting way off topic here, discussing things about gay rights, even though you dont need to remind me that Im the one who brought it up.

As for 'agreeing or disagreeing' is completely oxymoronic for anybody to take a 'side' on the topic of sexuality. Being a straight or gay is not something you do,'s something you 'are.' How can we agree or disagree on what two consenting adults do with their sexual organs? It's not our place. Being 'gay' is not a life style. Yes, it comes with it's sub-cultures and cliches, but never the less...'who we are attracted to does not constitute a 'life style.' To say "I don't agree with your homosexual life style" is to support the idea you actually ponder on things that allegedly have nothing to do with you. In all truth and fact (not faith) ...there is nothing to be agreed or disagreed with in regards to what people are doing with their genitals (or lack of) Your oppinion is just that,..'An oppinion.' I am right 100% of the time and am speaking facts here. Get with the program, Missy!

Dave Armstrong said...

Even if something truly is involuntary, or "genetic," it doesn't follow at all that it is not abnormal, since there are genetic abnormalities, and there are any number of things that a person can't help, that are not considered "normal" (e..g, retardation, mental illness, blindness from birth, being born with no arms or legs, etc.).

Christian teaching (and I would say, natural law, as well) places homosexual acts within this sphere. The orientation itself is not a sin, as the Church teaches. Lustfulness and sinful sexual activity can occur in both heterosexuals and homosexuals, of course.

Pilgrimsarbour said...

I don't understand why gay rights is off topic when we're discussing the "rights" of gay people to "marry." I agree that we've moved away from the topic of Anne Rice specifically and branched out a bit, but that happens in conversations. I am merely denying that my opposition to changing the millenia-long religious/societal/cultural definition of marriage is motivated by hatred of homosexuals. I don't want the definition changed. It's as simple as that. In my case (and most of those who comment here at this website) it is a matter of Christian principle having to do with the God-revealed Biblical truths about the nature of God's creation and the typology surrounding Christ and His Bride, His Church.

Your disgusting reference to "faggots," a word I haven't used since I was small boy, is key to understanding the left's overall political strategy of demonising their political opponents. The strategy works like this: first smear your opponents as "stupid, unintellectual, uncaring, unfeeling, interfering, control-freaks"--in short, demonise them, paint them as being "evil," unworthy of consideration in normal discourse or debate. We think the left is wrong, but the left thinks we are not just wrong, but "evil."

Attributing the use of that term "faggots" to us in a sweeping generalisation and thereby demonising us is a tactical strategy on your part which you think will advance your political agenda most effectively. And you're right, if your opposition is weak-minded and faint of heart. When you meet someone who is not, you display intellectual chaos as you have done here. It's often a projection; the left does a certain thing, then projects that onto their opponents by claiming that their opponents are guilty of that very thing when they are not. Sadly, I wonder if the left even sees this any longer as a political strategey. It has become so habitual to them, so automatic, that I suspect they don't even think about it anymore.

Finally, why do you suppose Elton John (my childhood piano idol) agrees with me and thinks that changing the definition of marriage is an unnecessary provocation to American society at large when the federal government in no way interferes with any two persons who want to live together? Is Elton John a so-called "bigoted" Christian? Does Elton John hate homosexuals? The stance of someone like Elton John is, I suspect, uncomfortable for you because it interrupts the narrative stream of your agenda and threatens your sense of political success at "fundamentally transforming" American society as a whole.

Gregstal said...

@ Dave..I understand what you are saying. To compare 'sexual orientation' to the unnaturalness of mentally retarded people is to support the idea that all heterosexual men and women who can not reproduce are 'unnatural.' I understand what you're saying and am not being argumentative. I agree that on a level of 'science' the ability to procreate is unnatural in a homosexual relationship. Lust, desire, love and commitment are completely natural in the case of human beings, all miniscule things like 'gender' aside.

@ Pilgrimer.."Are you nuts??' LOL
I am not opporating on some 'New World Order' type of agenda. The fact you over explain yourself and incessantly rant is proof I've touched a soft-spot for you.

You are welcome to call marriage whatever you's none of my concern. Marriage was not inteded for the sole purpose of pro-creation..if that were the case, then that could lead to suggestion that every time a man & woman are having sex, without the purpose of procreation, they are commiting sin. (well, to be more exact..'Acceptible Sin'..because even though lust is lust, God is willing to turn a blind eye to it's heterosexualness) lol

Marriage is a commitment..plain and simple.

You keep referencing the word 'faggot'..used in my earlier post-when talking about the sorts of things children learn from their parents and bring to school. You, yourself, admitted to not having said the word "since you were in grade school." Thanks for helping confirm that.

I am really not interested in what or who you are. Right is right, and it's high time to get over yourself and join the 'environmentally correct program.' Fwd to 5! God Bless

Gregstal said...

Further more, Pilgrimer,

There are healing centers awaiting your arrival for a deep cleansing.
Up and Attem, kiddo!

Dave Armstrong said...

Hi Greg,

If you don't accept moral or biblical or natural law arguments against homosexual activity, perhaps statistics of documented medical complications will interest you:

Dialogue With a Bisexual Agnostic on Homosexuality (+ Part II, which includes very extensive medical/scientific data)

Most people will at least take some notice if their health or life are endangered.

Twice now, in dialogues with homosexuals, when I presented this sort of medical data, the discussion stopped dead in its tracks, and my dialogue partner had nothing else to say. Facts is facts, after all.

Pilgrimsarbour said...


Yes, the redefining of marriage is a "soft spot" for me. And yes, I had hoped to convince you that I don't hate homosexuals and don't care (other than for their souls' sake) what they do and how they conduct their private lives. This issue of redefining marriage is in the public sphere, however, and I have a right as a citizen to address it and express my opinion on it.

I had hoped you would actually interact specifically with my (admittedly lengthy) comments. I spend a good deal of time setting out exactly the points I'm trying to make so as to be clear and to connect the points one to another. None of these issues exists in a vacuum and I have tried to lay them out as such, showing their causality and connectedness. It saddens me that you dismiss my comments out-of-hand as "rants."

It is to be regretted that you choose insults over dialogue, but I have not as yet found anyone on your side of this issue that is interested in an actual, reasoned discussion. I had hoped this discussion might be different, but it seems that my hope was audacious.

Be well,


Gregstal said...

@ Dave

'Moral' Bliblical' or 'Natural' arguments...

The closest you've come to understanding something very 'real' is through text book and the occasional pat on the back for you being 'born' or 'chosing' your heterosexualness?

That is amazing, Dave! Wow!

Gregstal said...

Further more, Dave, your facts are vague and nothing more than a whittling process from a group of people are eqaully compulsive about their belief in 'being right' as you are.

Write things in which you can speak in 'first person' for a change. ie: things you can relate to, without targeting others with your self-made utopia.

Homosexuality=being attracted to the same sex.

The act of Homosexuality=sexual acts between two people of the same sex.

It's rather simple. Your oppinions are flashy, but nothing more than resource upon resource of text and 2nd hand annalogy.

What is more annoying than your self grattifying beliefs and oppinion is to write, or claim without a doubt that you are 100% right to something that allegedly 'HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU!' Do you have O.C.D? Are you taking medication for anything?
ou have ZERO first hand experience in regards to a group of people you are generalizing. Im bored with've already gotten too much attention on here.

And so you know,..when you stereo type, assume, or generalize a group of people based on one thing they have in common,..'That is called 'profiling'...which is Predjudice!'

Outside of the idiots who actually agree with you, you will not see further posts on here from me. I've already given you too much attention. lol

much, much later!
~God Bless

Dave Armstrong said...

you will not see further posts on here from me.

Great. Promise? How will I get by, though, without the sublime intellectual stimulation you provide?

Ben said...

"She was a child of the sexual revolution: even being part of the Haight-Ashbury hippie scene in San Francisco. This affects one."


And consider the surprising affect the "Haight-Ashbury hippie scene" had on, of all people, this fellow!