I once read an interview with Drew Barrymore that I loved. She was charming and endearing in the best possible way, but what really stuck with me, is Barrymore’s idea of building a family of friends, a close-knit community she calls her “tribe.” They share her interests, her outlook on life, and most importantly, they’ve been the family she never really had (Little Girl Lost, anyone?). They’re not just “margaritas after work,” but holidays, life hiccups, and devastations. They’re her constant.
Recently, Anne Rice (author of Interview with a Vampire and the Christ the Lord series) also spoke of community, making a public confession via her Facebook page that she was leaving Christianity. She loves Jesus Christ, but doesn’t want to be associated with the public’s perception of Christians. Here’s a taste of the breakup:
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.
This admission sent shock waves through the church because we Christians tend to hang our hats on public figures who’ve come forward confessing their faith. Now, Rice is “quitting” us.
What exactly did she mean? When Rice was asked by Christianity Today, she elaborated:
I wanted my readers to know that I was stepping aside from organized religion and the names Christian and Christianity because I wanted to exonerate myself from the things organized religion was doing in the name of Jesus. Christians have lost credibility in America as people who know how to love.
Consider me conflicted. I knew what Rice was talking about, not wanting to be associated with the public church. When some of the most public Christians out there range from Pat Robertson and his views on Haiti to those who bomb abortion clinics to those who seethe with hatred for the gay community… it’s only natural I’d feel misrepresented. I can’t imagine Jesus doing any of those things. Sad to say, but Anne Rice, I get why you want a new tribe. Can you take me with you?
How quick I am to give up on people.
Because that’s not the end of the story for me. My personal experience with the church has allowed me to know other Christ-followers personally who are nothing but Jesus’ love in my day-to-day life.
They rescue my family’s belongings from a 500-year flood. They create art that speaks to the heart of every man. They talk about Jesus over a beer. They debate politics, because believe it or not, not all Christians vote the party line. They think for themselves but through the lens of a loving God. They pray they can learn to love better.
They mourn and weep with me. They plant trees in our back yard to represent the babies I couldn’t carry to term. They comfort me. They fill my home with raucous banter and the kind of easy laughter that comes with familiarity.
They respect the comic geniuses that are Tina Fay and Steve Carell and Will Farrell (otherwise, we couldn’t possibly be friends) and…
They know my ugly. No, they know my very ugly self, and they find the beauty in it. They know my weaknesses, and they stand in the middle of that mess, holding me up. They are my tribe. Why I get the extraordinary pleasure of living life alongside them, I will never know. It’s an embarrassment of riches I promise you I haven’t done a thing to earn.
As for Anne Rice, her own personal tribe is in tact, have no fear. What? Were you hoping otherwise?
She tells Christianity Today, “I live in a Christian household. My two assistants, members of my family, are believers, so I’m not isolated at all. I am with people for whom Christ is the center of their life.” Whether or not she returns to a church someday is an unknown for even her. In the meantime, Rice says she’ll continue to pray, study scripture daily and follow Christ.
I do hope Rice will give the church a second chance one day, because I think if she does, it will be such a homecoming for her. There’s a lot of life and power in living in community. That much I know.
Until then, somehow I don’t think God will abandon her. Nope. To say otherwise says more about us and our lack of understanding about God and really nothing about Anne Rice or the Christ she loves. The same Christ I love.
Ever lost faith in your fellow man?