On her Facebook page today, author Anne Rice says she has quit Christianity—in the name of Christ.
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.
In a followup post:
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.
Rice, who has spoken openly of her conversion from lapsed Catholic to Christian, is not saying anything especially new. But she says it eloquently. It sounds raw and exasperated and expresses some of the exhaustion surely all of us have felt at trying to figure out what it means to follow Christ…
I missed this appearance by evangelical titans Tim and Beverly LaHaye on Mike Huckabee’s Fox News show, but thanks to Andrew for flagging it. It’s a dismaying reminder that the religious right has not gone anywhere; in fact, its mixture of theological gibberish and hysterical politics get substantial airtime on the most watched cable news network in the country.
One couldn’t find a more succinct encapsulation of the politics I grew up immersed in — not so much by my parents as by the Christian media we consumed — than this five-minute chit-chat. The impending apocalypse was reinforced everywhere, from hosts on Christian talk radio programs to entire sections of books in Family Christian stores. The United Nations would grow to become a one-world government, which would lead to the rise of the Beast (probably somewhere like Iraq) who would impose worldwide totalitarianism and brutally persecute Christians. This was why, they said, we have to stand against liberalism: because it was inside job by militant secularists who wanted America to hand over its sovereignty when their moment of atheistic utopia arrived. Entire organizations were devoted to monitoring this process by connecting world events with biblical prophecy and, usually, articulating a Zionism-inflected conservative politics. These delusions reached their zenith in Tim LaHaye’s bestselling Left Behind series, which fictionalized a global future many evangelicals actually believe to be in progress as you read this.
I recently published a piece over at Religion Dispatches, one of a few wonderful, lately emerging religion news sites, about the trend of young evangelicals converting to Catholicism. It’s called “Evangelicals ‘Crossing the Tiber’ to Catholicism” and you can read it here.
Check it out, and weigh in by using their “letters-to-the-editor” feature.
File this one under ‘Mind-Blowing Stuff That Shows Up on my Facebook News Feed.’ Yesterday, a friend shared the following video, purportedly a worship song entitled “I Think I’m Gonna Throw Up.”
Of course the punchline is delivered as the verse ends with “…my hands to the Lord.” And just in case you were tempted to believe that the lyrics were an unfortunate oversight by a sincere lyricist, the second verse hammers home the premise by starting with “I think I’m gonna hurl.”
From Slate‘s Explainer today:
Pope Benedict XVI announced Sunday that he would pray for the 19 revelers trampled to death at a techno musical festival in Duisburg, Germany. Do Christians think praying can help a dead person get into heaven?
Not exactly. All Christians believe that only God can determine whether a person belongs in heaven or in hell.
If only all Christians believed that!
Writing a review is a very subtle art form. You never know how difficult it is until you try and write one. It is not simply a statement of this is what I think about this thing. There is a structure and a flow to it, a progression of thought and form that is difficult to do well (and indeed I know I’m still trying to figure it out). The typical movie review, as I’ve seemed to notice, follows the following pattern: the writer’s main thesis and overarching summary judgment on the film, a summary of the plot, what works in the film, what doesn’t, and finally whether or not to recommend the film to others. Why do I bring this up?
In the past week, I’ve seen Inception three times.
That much should imply my “summary judgment” on the matter (more on that later). I suppose now is the place for me to restate the plot. But I won’t. If you must know it before seeing the film, plenty of adequate summaries exist online for your consumption. I will tell you, though, that it’s one of the most complicated plots I’ve ever seen in a major motion picture, and to summarize it would be both unnecessary and potentially harmful to your enjoyment of the film. But don’t worry, as reviewer Kenneth Turan of NPR writes:
Earlier this week, Rush Limbaugh devoted a significant chunk of his show to “a sprawling essay”:http://spectator.org/archives/2010/07/16/americas-ruling-class-and-the from The American Spectator arguing that a vast American “ruling class” runs the country and shuts out dissenting views on every major issue. It circles the wagons around its liberal self, perpetuating its own ideas and protecting members of the club from competition on merit and a true marketplace of ideas.
Well, almost a year after we at Patrol went on record to quell the manufactured outrage over swearing Christians, Christianity Today is back at it again. This time it is Mollie Ziegler Hemingway who posted a piece on that most specific and forbidden kind of cussing, “using the Lord’s name in vain.”
In her article she lays out her case with example after example of the way that people who do not necessarily profess to be Christians or even have any real relationship with Christianity use our Lord’s name in vain. Among the offenders are the HBO series “The Pacific,” Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, Joe Biden, and even Tiger Woods.
Hemingway’s piece does dig a bit deeper when she gets to the importance of God’s name as the way that he reveals himself to humanity, and she really hits her stride as she points out that using God’s name in vain can mean misrepresenting him in word or deed…
A recent Daily Beast article notes that in the wake of Mel Gibson’s recorded rants of misogyny, violence and racism, his usual defenders, namely conservative evangelicals, have fallen silent. Apparently, after his drunk driving and anti-Semitic tirade, Christians were quick to forgive. But these audio recordings are so distressing, not even conservative talk radio hosts dare to defend Mel.
To many believers, Mel’s horrifying rhetoric has undermined their experience of Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ. What, to so many people, was such a deeply moving experience now seems irrevocably tainted by its creator’s malevolence. Personally, I’m sick of hypocrites like Mel Gibson hijacking my faith, and the idea that he is some sort of figurehead for Christianity in this country infuriates me to no end. Having never seen The Passion, my motivation to watch it is at an all time low.
But what most people don’t realize is that these recent tapes are just the tip of the iceberg. They don’t even hold a candle to some of Mel’s darkest moments…
- grifter1910 on A Response to Stephen Baskerville’s Lecture at Patrick Henry College
- Vernon Rainwater on The Chastened Baritone and the Worth of Labor
- Patricia Jolley on Sufjan Is An Insensitive Name
- Realist on How Women Ruined Men, the World, Everything, Etc
- AC700 on Living the Story of Belief: Marilynne Robinson’s “Gilead”
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