Anne Rice Quits...
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.So, apparently she's "out." But is that her choice? Indeed, did she decide to be part of the church in the first place? Did she die on the cross for herself?
You know, it's too bad... Because not all churches are as she describes them-- "anti-gay, anti-feminist, etc." But actually, therein amongst the quarrels and the chaos lies the beauty of the church--we are one with a community of people with whom, if we were left to our own devices, we would not choose to be one.
While I believe that we are, in essence, stuck we each other, I do still believe that you can find expressions of church that are quite alternative to the mainstream church that Rice is apparently leaving. These expressions, though bound to be filled with their own problems, are available and I always feel down when I hear that someone is leaving the church altogether without giving another expression a shot. But, then again, there's something wholly consumeristic about the whole thing. "Church shop" until you find the right one... then tap a different market if you don't find it. We mirror the horrors of our culture.
That's where forgiveness and the willingness to be hurt for your community comes into play. The parable of the unforgiving servant comes to mind (read it here)...
When we lose sight of the gift of it all... that we have been invited by Christ to be part of his body, to share in his suffering, to commune with fellow servants (even if they're flawed and we think they owe us something) then we're bound to refuse the same mercy to others. It is by God's grace that we have been accepted by him, now we must accept others out of the gratitude of our hearts. But we have to remember the gift and to see it as such. I wish I could cite the quote, but I have heard Stanley Hauerwas quoted as saying, "stay with the church that hurt you."
I think I can say that I understand where Rice is coming from. Hell, I too "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." But I do this while extending the same mercy that was extended to me, even to those with whom I so strongly disagree.