So, Anne Rice quits, because people suck? What did she expect, anyway?
That was my first gut-check response to the statement she made this week on Facebook, subsequently picked up by Huffington Post: 'I Quit Being a Christian.' Why? Well, like I said, people suck--and apparently Christian people are the suckiest: "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. ...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."
Okay, granted: Christian people really are the suckiest, if only because they suck just as bad as everyone else and claim to be doing God's will or loving Jesus the whole time they suck. And I hate just as much as anyone the fact that goofy Ted Haggards and odious Fred Phelpses and you-name-hims are the media face of Christianity. In fact, I hate it so much I refuse to accept it. Which is exactly NOT what giving up and publicly quitting being a Christian does. I get that she wants to indict these sucky Christians for their suckiness. But in the meantime, she grants that this is what Christianity really is, and must be, and all right-minded people must quit it because it will only ever be a religion of haters and that's what Jesus would do.
Actually I think Jesus stuck around and got crucified for it, but hey, that's a theological quibble for another day, right.
On my own Facebook page I groused, "why sell out and let the haters define Christianity? all she's doing is legitimizing the perception that this is in fact what Xny has to be. Lame."
Maybe that was a bit harsh. Susan Campbell's reaction is better: "Come sit by me, Sis. Anne. One can be a Christian and cling to none of those antis, I believe." (Amen and amen and amen!) Usually, I'm much more level-headed; I stick it out in my little corner of Christendom, but I have said (so often now it's practically become a mantra) that we need some people to go and some people to stay, and everyone should do what they do loudly. Well, you can't beat an Anne Rice Facebook statement picked up by HuffPo as a megaphone, so it seems like I am actually pissed off at someone conforming to my own advice. Which puts me in a bind. Mea culpa. So why is it that I still feel like what she is doing is misguided in some fundamental way? Why am I still pissed about it?
What makes Susan's reaction better and different from mine is that, I got pissed off at the idea of quitting--because I have chosen to not quit, despite the fact that I too feel very much an outsider in my own Christian tradition. I've decided not to quit because I am an outsider. It's the outsiders--the vampires and the cyborgs if you will--within the church that have the prophetic potential for changing the antis into pros. It's not so much that I'm angry that Anne Rice wants to publicly indict Christians for the unforgiveable anti-stances that have been so publicly and politically taken up by a very vocal some. I agree. It's that her chosen response to it indicts my chosen response to it as wrong: useless, hopeless, and worse, complicit rather than prophetic. As she sees it, her conscience cannot allow association with the horrors she sees perpetrated by those claiming Christianity. But me--I'm just not that interested in preserving the purity of my conscience. I'd rather spend my time trying to preserve other things.
Susan seems to agree with me that it's hasty generalization to conclude that all of Christianity is defined by the haters, but instead of getting pissed off and calling Anne "lame," she says "come sit by me." That's ever so much better.
[So, pssst, Sis. Anne, have you heard of The Episcopal Church? It officially welcomes you. Also, should you ever find yourself in Brooklyn, why not check out this awesome pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-birth control (well, except for that one couple that doesn't seem to bother, and yeah, you know who I'm talkin bout, but hey, you make great babies), pro-Democrat, pro-secular-humanist, pro-science, pro-life church, CCfB...]
But in the meantime, use your megaphone while you exit--because we need this witness too. But I hope you decide to stick around. And, sorry for calling you "lame."