Another kind of divorce is out there
Side by SideDivorcing the church after an on-again/off-again marriage, widely read author Anne Rice said on Facebook on July 29, 2010: "For those who care, and I understand if you don't:
Published: August 19, 2010
Published: August 19, 2010
Rice is a thinker whose books have sold nearly 100 million copies. Her publicly renounced Christianity made headlines. Pressed for reasons, the 68-year-old finds organized religion (all of it) irrelevant, unloving and narrow minded. She's not alone, nor is this disgust age specific. According to a 2010 poll by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, under-age-30 adults are less likely to attend church or affiliate with a particular religion than their parents and grandparents were at the same age.
For years Rice called herself an atheist. She lost her 6-year-old daughter to leukemia in 1972 and her husband to cancer in 2002. In 1998 she returned to her Catholic Church roots. In October 2004, she stated in Newsweek she would henceforth "write only for the Lord." Since then she has produced several Christ-themed books.
Rice said much more than, "I quit." Like other bitter divorcees, she discarded the old name: "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." She first directed her remarks toward the church she knows best, Roman Catholic, but she eventually said she believes all church institutions separate believers from Christ. She labels the church as anti-feminism, anti-gay, and anti-life, among other things.
Before church-dom shouts "anti-Rice," it needs to hear her cry. She is educated, intelligent and successful. Teaching a woman is less than a man, in any way, insults her. Her son, Christopher Rice, also a best-selling author, is gay. Anything condemning him makes her defensive. The church might be surprised to know that Rice believes abortion is wrong, that it takes a human life, but she doesn't believe it should be made illegal.
Institutional religion, Christian and other, sets standards based on interpretation of what it accepts as truth. Views on women, homosexuality and abortion must be made clear, hopefully based on serious, unbiased study. Yet, before Christian church-dom pounds doctrine, it must promote Christ. Truth will win. Rice says it is Christ, who is "the heart and center of my life," not his followers. Demonstration before dogma: "For the Scripture says, 'Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed" (Romans 10:11 NAS). The "just say no to religion" August 2010 campaign launched by the Freedom From Religion Foundation in Florida will ultimately disappoint: non-religion is religion.
Dan Elliott of the Associated Press wrote a piece recently about Gina, a 2-year-old German shepherd trained for bomb sniffing. After a stint in Iraq, the dog was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, too traumatized to enter a building. "Bad dog" and "do your duty" will not work now. Only love can bring her back. Nothing else touches irreconcilable differences.
Finding truth requires the right starting point. That is the quest of this column. If you are a seeker of simple truth, we can find it together-side-by-side.
Linda M. Downing is a freelance writer. Contact her at lindadowning.com