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July 30, 2010

Anne Rice quits Christianity -- but not Christ

Novelist Anne Rice remains committed to Christ. But she is quitting Christianity.

The “Interview With The Vampire” author, who in recent years has spoken publicly about her faith and written a series of novels tracing the life of Jesus, wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday that she was finished with organized Christianity.

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 outside. My conscience will allow nothing else.

She followed that post a few minutes later with more details:

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.

On Thursday, Rice posted a series of passages from the New Testament:

Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

If I speak in the tongues[a] of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.

And then, more detail:

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn't understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.
Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 7:00 AM | | Comments (71)


One Art
by Elizabeth Bishop

The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

I lost my mother's watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn't hard to master.

I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn't a disaster.

--Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident
the art of losing's not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Interesting that she says "It's simply impossible for me to "belong" to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group." Then quotes Jesus: "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household."

As Christians, we need to concentrate on the positive. Franklin Graham just returned from a successful trip to Brazil, with 65000 people showing up on the last night. Several thousand surrendered their hearts to Christ. He also preached in China. 'While the church in America is losing religious freedom and struggling to grow, the church in China is gaining freedom and growing rapidly. It's not perfect by any means, but it certainly has come a long way in the past 20 years. We've already received invitations to preach the gospel in several Chinese cities in 2011." He will also preach a Rock the River tour across western Canada for youth. 'Like the United States, Canada is an increasingly secularized, Godless culture in great need of the gospel." The article above and comments left on these blogs certainly support what Mr. Graham is saying. Please keep these ministries in your prayers, and dont be pulled down by negative thoughts. Also, Billy Graham is doing well and would like the Lord to give him strength to preach again. Please keep him in your prayers also. Thanks and God bless.

Christ had compassion and love even for Judas Iscariot who betrayed him. If you love Christ, love those who love him even if you may not agree with them.

Must we care about this woman's incessant theological confusion?

While there is certainly much to be said in response to, in correction of, Rice I wish to provide her the following with regards to her statements about Christianity being "anti-feminist" (understanding that a distinction is to be drawn between the Bible and the Christian "religion" and also that the definition of the term feminist can vary):

In the Bible we find that:
Males and females were both created in the image of God.
Women had the right to own land.
Received inheritance.
Were prophetesses (in both testaments).
Were judges.
Were disciples.
Were deaconesses.
Were teachers.
Worked and owned their own businesses.
Women were present at the day of Pentecost.
Books of the Bible are named after women.
Women were the first at the empty tomb while the male apostles were hiding in fear.

For these facts, see: Genesis 1:27; Exodus 15:20; Numbers ch. 27; 2nd Kings 22:14; 2nd Chronicles 34:22; Job 42:15; Proverbs 31:16; Isaiah 8:3; Judges 4:4; Luke 2:36; Romans 16:1-2; Acts 1:12-14, 2:1, 16:14, 21:7-9, 9:36, 18:26; Titus 2:3-4.

Also note that while Pliny the Younger (Plinius Secundus) was Governor of Bithynia in Asia Minor in 112 AD he wrote to Emperor Tarjan in Epistles 10.96, referring to Christians he writes of “two female slaves, who were styled deaconesses.”
This again demonstrates a continued Christian practice of having women in leadership and teaching roles; to whatever extent.

Some dismiss these facts and refuse to be confused by facts but will dismiss them by asking about things that pertain to roles and not to ontology.

I wish that she would stop being crazy and go back to writing the Vampire Chronicles, I'm so tired of the Twi-crap.

Good for Anne! I decided years ago that I wasn't religious - that the things thought of as religious were often not the things I believed God was leading his followers to do. I am saved by Grace! I do my best not to condemn others, but to love them. I believe what I believe. I live by my convictions. And I ask God to guide me with a strong hand. I try to keep in mind, when I disagree with others, that it's always possible that I'm the one who is wrong. I may be wrong about some things, but the one thing I know FOR SURE is that I'm called to love my fellow human beings.

Anne Rice did not give up Christianity, just organized religion, as I did a long time ago. Christianity is the belief in Christ and what that means to me and what I hold in my heart, and my heart is far bigger than any religion.

And we care why? If the Pope quit Christianity that might be worth writing about. This is only worth writing because it allows you to indirectly celebrate the liberal agenda.

I have been re-reading The Vampire Chronicles, and continue to be awestruck by the power and beauty of Ms Rice's writing. The reason "we" should care about "this woman" is that she is a genius, a mover & shaker in contemporary culture, and a force for tolerance and love of humanity. I wish for her many more years of writing and happiness.

It sounds like Ms. Rice has run into some very unpleasant "Christians." I hope that she continues to search, to read, and to explore the Catholic Faith - to discover the profound beauty and Truth that lie within the Mystical Body of Christ. Pray that the Truth may be revealed to you, and do not lose hope! We are all about love - the strongest and most enduring force in heaven and on earth. The Church is still immersed in the worst crisis of her existence and is plagued with much corruption. She will endure, as she has since her establishment over 2,000 years ago. I pray that this exceptional soul returns to the font of sanctifying grace, the holy sacraments...

Throughout the centuries, it has been the women who have sustained the Church. Think St. Joan of Arc, St. Teresa of Avila, St. Catherine of Sienna, and so many others. The most perfect human being ever created was not a man, by the way... and by her unequivocal "yes" she saved the human race.

Can you really have Christ without his body the Church?

How "Better-than-Thou" of her to start her on Christian denomination. Is it Riceism? Is she now a Riceite? Anneish, maybe?Or has she founded what could be called Annethodism, or Ricebyterinism, or maybe she's a Riceatarian?

How incredibly arrogant (or incredibly confused) this woman is.

She broad-brushes the Bride of Christ with multiple slanderous accusations, and then has the temerity to claim that she still loves the Bridegroom -- even though she has divorced herself from Him by cutting herself off from the Church.

One cannot be "in Christ" and not be in Christ's Body, the Church.

"And he is the head of the body, the church..." Col 1:18

"...for the sake of his body, that is, the church..." Col 1:24

"...the household of God, which is the church of the living God, a pillar and buttress of the truth" 1 Tim 3:15

Anne Rice should repent of this blasphemy or quit calling herself a lover of Christ.


Jesus was a "liberal."

The Anchoress put it much more politely, and clearly, than I could.

Many prayers for Anne Rice, by rejecting what she thinks is hateful and un-Christian in a hateful and un-Christian way.

As far as women being first at the empty tomb while the men were cowering in terror, may I point out that the men were liable to be crucified, wheras women were not. Crucifixion was a terrible punishment that might make anyone cower in fear I am told. And while women are by no means inferior to men in any way aside from physical strength, and while I very much enjoy the company of woman, I do not forget that it was a woman, Eve, who led Adam, a man, astray. There might be a lesson in this biblical passage.

"Anne Rice should repent of this blasphemy or quit calling herself a lover of Christ."

Well, right you are Chuck. I assume you are a Catholic because that gives you the firm foundation to make statements like this. I am quite perturbed by Anne Rice's de-conversion because I was planning on using one of her latest books in a liturgy class. You see the fallacy is that we Catholic cannot be au courant. We can be very courant, and use every bit of popularizing stuff that exists. That is what makes for interesting scholarship. But it is important that whatever we do we always come out with the right answer. Criticism does not mean coming out with the wrong answer if the right answer is what you must get. Scholarship is not about following the trail of the truth into contradictory corners. No, where I teach we only hire people who can come up with the truth even if the facts are wrong. This is the best of Christianity. This is why Anne Rice is so short-sighted. If only she had read one of my books she would understand that the vast subject of symbol in human affairs is really about getting the right answer. And the right answer is what we say it is. Thanks Chuck.

I think that it is good that you quit the catholic church rather than remain in it and be so contentious with it. We are not exactly anti gay but we do believe it is a disorder and so a gay person should remain chaste. We are not anti birth control but believe in natural family planning which is much safer for everyone but requires a little more effort. I could go on. But as I say better to quit than to continue saying you are Catholic when you obviously are not in tune with the church that Christ established. Perhaps at a later time you will come to your senses. mary ann

Good for you, Anne. The horror of the last 40 years is that our Church's Voltaires stayed IN the Church, living off the Church and endlessly in dispute with the Church and vigorously corrupting and weakening the Church.

Anyone familiar with Rice's work knows that the struggle for faith and with faith is a continuing theme in her works, and indeed, in her life.
I think there are many of us who long for the divine and feel a responsibility for and love for our fellow human beings, but for whom organized religion is too narrow, too laden with human interpretation. We may have had negative experiences, disappointments or betrayals; or have thought that some rules and attitudes don't seem to fit the big picture of the creed in question; or have simply have felt that the religion of our parents are not the way in which we feel called to God.
But we still yearn and strive to be better human beings, driven by love.
I think I completely understand where RIce is coming from.

Dear Dan and Mary Ann,

Right you are, both of you. Dan, why indeed to we need brilliant people like Voltaire when we already have Father Corapi?True enough, Mary Ann, we are not "exactly anti-gay" but we see it as a disorder because our priesthood has such a marvelous grasp on healthy sexual identity. Clearly, as any celibate priest can help counsel, birth control just takes a little more work. And if you are a poor worker in a poor country having about 15 children that might mean a lot more work to support them. But as Catholics we know that is a blessing, especially since poverty is blessed.

Dan, I also echo your sentiments that people who dissented in any way were "living off the Church". In the case of Father Curran he worked with phony assiduity to produce endless comprehensive studies of Catholic morality. Whereas a more sacred dalliance with some polls and surveys is the mark of true scholarship. Let's put it this way, you do more real work for the Church by simply not questioning anything, than investigating everything, even if you were loyal. Loyalty is not enough as we all know. Asking a question that does not have an answer from the beginning is something that loyalty cannot bridge. This is the Catholic way!

Monsignor Kevin Irwind
National Shrine Fine Arts Committee

(please join our committee so help preserve the masterpieces of fine art in the National Shrine, which represent the best of American Catholic identity.)

So all the thing that were anit-?, she can go back to her girlfriends, birth control, abortion and devil worshipping. Must mean she ran out of money. LOL

Come on Mr. Charron, blaming Eve for leading man astray reminds me of the man who blames his wife because he is a drunk, a loser, a cuckold, or a failure. Adam was whipped in the first degree. All he had to say was, “No, Eve. That's not what I choose to do.”

He couldn't handle it because of his own weakness. Let's not blame Eve.

Adam was the first man who couldn't man up.

The lesson in the biblical passage is that testosterone clouds judgment.


"The lesson in the biblical passage is that testosterone clouds judgment."

O Felix Culpa!


Monsignor Irwin,

I fear that while focusing on the inevitable ends of scholarship, you may have overlooked one of Ms Rice's most enduring legacies: the resurgence and persistence of Goth Couture. Admittedly, I haven't actually read any of her books, but I have to believe she would use a crucifix as more than just a fashion statement. Surely there is a role for her work in broadening the liturgical imagination?

Camille, it's funny you should mention it but I saw several crucifixes and even a rosary worn as personal adornment today in downtown Baltimore. It seems that at the Otakon convention Jesus and fashion are dancing chic 2 chic.

Madame Quelquejeu,

I assure you that I am ladies' man, though a celibate one, so I can appreciate your distaff insight. Yes, it is a great shame that Anne Rice has denied the True Faith, which of course includes condemning the lives of gay people, and the choices of poor people. We have a Church to run. And nobody can blame us for sticking to our story. Unfortunately the whole Goth aesthetic of the Middle Ages no longer plays very well according to the many polls and surveys I spend my scholarly life consulting, and academic life I spend teaching. But a new-fangled conservatism is needed. Interesting writing is secondary, and the blandishments of doctrine, primary. As I said to Bishop McDonnell, former president of CUA at his Episcopal Ordination today, your greatness consists in having revived the notion of limited scholarship. A scholarship limited by doctrine. What a joy it was to be at that Mass as Master of Ceremonies as broadcast on EWTN. Of course it was sort of sad to find Michael Sean former CUA seminarian masturbating in the bathroom saying "I Love you David" but except for that it was a great afternoon! And at least his article in the NCR was flattering.

Monsignor Kevin Irwind
Pontifical Commission on Liturgical Preciosity

After reading the entry and a few of the comments I'm struck by how people can condemn popery, but in the same breath declare themselves each to be pope.

Anne Rice is perpetually confused because she is more about self-worship than faith. She clearly demonstrates an obsessive need to identify herself as morally superior despite a continuing lack of moral coherence, including her tolerance for those cultural values than make the mass extermination of inconvenient lives inevitable. Human propensities for self-worship is the very reason Jesus instituted a Church. He was perfectly aware of the self-destructive consequences of disorganized religion.

Monsignor Kevin Irwind

Monsignor you are as confused and as much a snotty trivializer as Anne Rice. Whatever pseudo-scholarship you may be practicing, it is not anchored in fidelity to doctrine. The subject of your sarcasm is not at all involved in “condemning the lives of gay people, and the choices of poor people.” Neither does it require “sticking to our story.” The origins of all Christian doctrine (not just Catholic) is rooted in the redemptive act of the New Covenant, necessitated by the tragic reality of personal sin, a reality in which we all live and a reality that can not help but distort and compromise every thought and action in our lives, including every exercise of scholarship. The impossibility of being free from self-serving thought and action is the one and the only reason Jesus created a Church, without which, humility is seldom fortified. Anne Rice may not get it, but you should.

Mr. Baker,

Since I am a scholar so I can recognize Paul Tillich's thought as the basis for what you are saying. Tillich used to be well thought of by Catholics, and his books well represented in our libraries. But now we have decided to limit our doctrine, and circumscribe our mission to the few who can accept it. So Tillich is out. Sorry. As the former CUA president emphasized yesterday in his first sermon in the realm of the Jerseylicious, "the way is narrow" !

What is there of Christ in this insipid narcissism that compels Rice to issue a press release with her every crisis of faith?

Signor aperta,

As your question, I'm not exactly sure, but I imagine the same aspect that "compels" about 95% of sermons and/or preaching that goes on generally in Christianity. it is amazing how the crises of faith that people want to credit are the ones that turn out exactly the way theirs have. And that is favorably assuming they are deep
enough to have had one.

The guy playing the role of Monsignor Kevin Irwind on this blog is doing a rather clever send up of conservative theological and philosophical positions and approaches to philosophy. The silliest part is how his delightful caricature of an arrogant, condescending, ignoramus will be swallowed whole by the ignorant and the bigoted. Good Job Wormwood!!

If you take your toys apart you can't play with them anymore.

Dear Lioren,

Thank you for the compliment, and for getting the spirit of it. As we say in English, in jest is the truth. Which is sort of sad, and not funny. Or in Spanish, "Sabe Mas El Diablo por Viejo, Que por Diablo." (The Devil's only smarts come from being very experienced, not from being the Devil.)

Monsignor Kevin is brilliant. To him I offer my deepest and most salacious curtsy.

Dear Dana and Lioren,

The curtsy developed historically from a form of semi-recumbent prostration before reliquaries embedded in altars. Much attenuated it was used by people in royal courts, and only later became associated largely with women. I specialize in the historical details that mean little to the general thrust of the question. That way, one never gets in trouble.

I am glad you have recognized me as a cipher, but please know that I am a cipher totally at the service of the most inertial elements of the Church, while at the same time being very with -it. That must be clear from my books.

Since all the members of the cast of the Jersey Shore are clearly young Catholics I am working on finding an isight for my next book in the show. Perhaps Bishop O'Connell, now helpfully installed in the state, could commission a poll or survey. I have faith in the faith of Snooky! Plus we priests need to do anything we can to show that our interests are those of straight men. It is a sacred duty at this point!

In that case Monsignor, I offer my deepest and most salacious curtsy to an old relic.

Mr. Irwind

Clearly you’re a pseudo-scholar and pretentious intellectual, the embodiment of Orwell’s observation that some ideas are so stupid, only intellectuals can believe them.
Were you to take time out from your own forms of self-worship long enough to consider that truth is not a byproduct of who presents what particular expression of it, you might cultivate a conscience about not engaging in implicit frivolous public mockery of the Crucifixion of Jesus.
You might also consider hiring a grammar tutor.

My dear Mr. Baker, to attack Monsignor Kevin, who is only trying to help us, is highly irregular. You should consider the words of Rev. Henry Tuberville, D.D., of the English College of Douay:

"With all thy soul fear our Lord and reverence his priests, with all thy strength, love them that made thee and forsake not his master, honour God with all thy soul, and honour the priests." And the reason is, for if we owe love, honour, and obedience to our carnal parents, much more to our spiritual, by how much the soul surpasseth the body. Again, as there is none greater than priests, who are empowered to shut and open the gates of heaven, as also to convert the substance of bread and wine, into the most precious body and blood of our blessed Saviour: to no person is greater honour due, than to them who personate Christ himself, so that he who despiseth them despiseth Christ himself, and the disregard of them is the origin of impiety.” (The Douay Catechism 1649)

Grammar, indeed! Insolent.

Mr. Baker,

If I could have married, I would have married someone like the lovely Dana who graces these pages. A true daughter of the Church. You see you still have a very limited notion, Mr. Baker, of what the true bailiwick of a liturgical specialist like myself is. There was a time when blood was spilt over the fine lines of Eucharistic theology. Now only vaunted aesthetic histories are crushed. But this is a sacred process, like a snake molting its skin. What good would Victoria Masses do for the Church today? Granted we are required to nod in approval at such things when the Pope is present and the requisite choral anachronism is assayed. Or when the Society for Liturgical Retrogression has their annual convention in DC and I am required to show up at their cocktail party.
As I said in a scholarly study, even though orthodoxy remains the same from age to age, the way we express it does not. Therefore, we need a new, up- to- date way to express things, otherwise we will not be orthodox. This is how I can be very au courant, yet very backward looking.

I have been assisted in this endeavor by using the thought of Anselm Stolz. Stolz argued that theologia should not just be scholarly talking about God, but also things like prayer and other ways of everyday invocation. This idea was a goldmine for my search for the true inclusiveness of the trendy and the exclusiveness of anything that the magesterium happens to not like in this century.

Mr. Baker, what you call self-worship I call context and method. It sounds better and can mean many things. The important thing is that there be talk about Jesus in there too. As long as that is in there you can say whatever you want. (As all theology students know, when in doubt just say "Pashcal Mystery" ) In this manner you can go on about whatever you want no matter how it flouts history.....and grammar.

Monsignor Kevin Irwind,

A Christian giving up on Christianity because of quarrels within the Church is like an American giving up on the United States because there are quarrels among Americans.

Jesus also got caught between the rock and the hard place, but he embraced the torture instead of fleeing from it. Anne Rice, go thou and do likewise.

The saints have taught that the majority of souls in heaven are women. St. John Vianney taught that most women go to hell because they did not have the number of children that God meant them to have (abortion, contraception, NFP), the exception is "periodic contenence". Our Lord told St. Catherine of Sienna that the sin of Sodom is so detestable the even the devil, after tempting the act, cannot bear to witness the act and leaves the room in disgust. And for Monsignor: Our Lord told Marie-Julie Jahnney in 1902 that a "New Mass" would be introduced that would be "Odius" in His sight - Our Lord told Bl. Anne Catherine Emmerich that the Mass would be replaced by a new one that is "impious". Pope Benedict XVI told Father Dollinger, personal friend of HH. after they had concelebrated a mass that in the "Third Secret" Our Lady specifically warns that the Church is not to tought the Mass and Sacraments and that an "Evil Council would come" - VCII.
(See the Fatima Crusader # 80, 92, and 95.) Seems that even Rome disobeys Heaven. As Cardinal Ciappi has said publically that in the "3rd Secret" it say's the "rot will start at the top". And finally: Extra Ecclesiam Nullus omnio Salvatur - Out of the Church there is positively no Salvation. de fide.

Anyone who thinks Christians are "deservedly infamous" isnt really following Christ. Even if a Christian does something very wrong, they deserve prayer.


What a fabulous grasp of the varied modes of wisdom the Church offers you demonstrate! Whew, I have to catch my breath after that mouthful. But it is the truth. Heaven may be filled with mostly priests and religious, as witnessed by the preponderance of priests and consecrated religious in the rolls of the the saints. (Has it yet reached reached even 10% married saints?????) For what it is worth I was personally told that the Third Secret of Fatima was that a theologian whose name sounded like a food used in the Portuguese city of Goa would be kicked out of a major Catholic University and thus create a crisis for the Church. Can anyone doubt that that refers to Curry, and that it was meant to signify Curran. Who would have thought that our theology would revolve around the fare at a University-town all you can eat Indian Buffet.

Monsignor Kevin the Courant

Mr. Sundell, I could not have said it better myself.

Mr. Irwind is not trying to help anyone. He is indulging his sense of historical relativism and fascistic theology, not at all coherent with religious faith. Anti-Catholic bigotry is not criticism.

The meaning and purpose of the crucifixion is not subject to stylized reinterpretations. There are only two philosophies; everything else is derivative. Either God is a fool or we are. Were it the first, truth would be meaningless and always in flux. Since it actually is the latter, it is for this very reason that we often fail to see that God did not abandon us to a capricious understanding of how we ought to order our lives together. There are innate and benevolent principles of right and wrong transcendent to human culture that never change. They are true not based on whether they are able to receive the social sanctions of popular acceptance, intellectual movements, or whether they receive enshrinement in statutory law, but are true because they are inherent to the nature of being a decent human being.

Jesus was not crucified by accident. It was not a misunderstanding. Every moment of human pride from every human being who has ever lived drove the nails. Pseudo-intellectuals may try to trivialize the Crucifixion, but then their quarrel is with Christianity itself, whether they wear a Roman collar or not.

Don't be silly Mr. Baker. Of course the crucifixion is “subject to stylized reinterpretations.” It has always been that way. There were no nails in His hands, there was no halo like ring of thorns, it has always been stylized and interpreted. We even let anti-semitic types throw in their two cinematic cents when they're not busy beating up girls.

Your limited “two” philosophies (“ Either God is a fool or we are.”) are nonsense. We were made in His image Eddie! So the obvious answer is that God and humans are fools, or neither God nor humans are fools. I hope for the latter but if the former is true then heaven is a stand up routine for eternity. Not bad as reward for living the gay and narrow path.

That said you are correct in your estimate that “God did not abandon us to a capricious understanding of how we ought to order our lives together.” It is the natural law written on the hearts of men and women. But what you miss is that the brilliant and handsome Monsignor Kevin reads the natural law with a sense of humor and a tongue in his cheek. Not mine, dear.

Mr. Baker,

You have made the central distinction. All criticism of the Church is bigotry. Whereas all the Church's criticisms of ofhers is Love. With that sure foundation we can proceed to analyze anything and avoid being pseudo-intellectuals even if we avoid intellectual facts. If the Church happened to have put many Jews to death in the past, that is because, as we now know with the Transcendent Truth of the Second Vatican Council, because the Church really always respected them and loved them. Loved them indeed in the spirit of a crucifixion. We can make history right with a few apologies, and a little penance, because the Church has basically always held the right thing. Let the dead say, Amen!

Monsignor Kevin Irwind

Dana LaRocca and Monsignor Irwind,

A deep curtsey to you both. Hard to do while ROFL...

Dana, the reality and meaning of sin escapes your imagination. Aren’t you at all concerned about that future final judgment when self serving expression will no longer hold water?

First, I did not say the Crucifixion is not subject to renderings in different artistic styles. I said the meaning and purpose of the crucifixion is not subject to stylized reinterpretations. Got it? Redemption means the same to every sinful human soul. Got it?

You are intentionally avoiding the implicit meaning in my objection to Mr. Irwind’s previous dismissal of my linking the reality of sin to how our personal denials of personal sin affect every single thing we do in life, including every exercise in human thought. His response was a smug trivialization of my objection as not valid because it resembled what he believes to be the no longer fashionable thought of Paul Tillich.

Whether one likes a particular style of theological expression is not in any way relevant to the question of why the Crucifixion took place.

I have to congratulate you. I’ve read over four thousand books, and I have visited and ministered to the mentally ill, street murderers, thieves, government sponsored terrorists, and the dumbest group of all, university professors, a large part of my life. And you have skyrocketed to the top of the list in your having expressed the most foolish thought I have ever encountered in my entire life.

Being made in the image of God does not imply equivalency with God. Got it? Creature and creator are not the same. Got it? In saying either God is a fool or we are, I am clearly pointing out the obviousness of the latter. Being made in God’s image means we are able to respond to the better angels of our nature and become Godly when we see the face of God in the suffering, or when we protect the lives of the vulnerable. But our inequality with God is signified by our sins. You can not be leading the life of a Christian unless you’ve been spit on by the intelligentsia, who often project a kind of genius in themselves for wanting to be bold enough to exterminate the weak. You also can not be leading the life of a Christian without seeing a need to pray for them.

It is quite common among boneheaded atheists to imagine they’ve expressed a clever argument against the notion of God by pointing out the existence of evil, while avoiding any rational consideration that might place any of the blame for evil upon themselves.

But because all of God’s children are sinners, the religious frequently try to be as boneheaded as atheists. We do this when we deny our sins. Anne Rice is not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but even she has shown evidence of being able to figure this out. There is no greater blasphemy; there is no greater evil; there is no greater indignity, there is no greater act of human evil, than to hold a thought or advance a thought that implies the meaninglessness of redemption.

Anne Rice: "Possibly I still belong to the Body of Christ"

The reality and meaning of sin hardly escape my imagination at all Mr. Baker. And I very concerned about future and final judgment. Indeed. That is why I have been encouraging you to get off your high horse and have a little laugh with the rest of us.

Putting on airs of superiority doesn't put you any closer to salvation Mr. Baker. I'm very happy that you have read over four thousand books. I like to read also. We have so much in common. I'm also glad that you”minister” to the mentally ill, criminals, and college professors. It's sad to see that your left hand can see what your right hand is doing, though. You must have skipped a book; the one that told you not to do that. Your tone, suggests you think yourself above all of them. And that is unfortunate.

It feels like we've known one another for years. After after just a few conversations you have already said that my thoughts are not only foolish, but the “most foolish” thoughts you have ever encountered. The way that you make bold assertions ending with the imperative “Got it!” of Mel Gibsonian manliness also make me feel more familiar. I'm just a tender thing Eddie, for one who talks of others wanting to “exterminate the weak” it seems you have become as them.

When men or women feel that redemption is meaningless the correct response is love. Calling people “bonehead” or “not the sharpest knife in the drawer” is not likely to bring them closer to God or salvation. “Seeing a need to pray for them” in the midst of the name calling is a mockery of what it means to be Christian. It is a pseudo pious game of one upmanship.

It is the desperate act of a madman screaming at the fish for not filling the net.

Measure your words more carefully sweetheart. What you called “no greater blasphemy, no greater evil, no greater indignity, and no greater act of human evil,” has been historically attributed to the man who said: “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me.”

My dear Mr. Baker,

I think it a great moment of female intuition that Dana has referenced Mel Gibson in regard to your thoughts. I for one, as a specialist in ritual and liturgy, am interested in your very deep and uncompromising discussion, Mr. Baker, and the insights from Mel Gibson's masterpieces of faith, In fact, as I have spent a lot of time discussing in class with my students, the deep realities of faith in Mel Gibson's movies -- just like yours Mr. Baker -- are starkly suggested for a liturgical reading in his movies, especially the Passion. It has the same emphasis on the Crucifixion you have show, and a similar aesthetic. But no only Gibson's Christian movies. I would draw useful hints for liturgical renewal from his movie on the Maya as well. We might need to attenuate some of those Mayan rituals and the insights drawn from them. But don't you see, Mr. Baker, that the same confidence and surety you show is massively on display in his movies. And now doubt you have the same personal philosophical subtlety he has always displayed.

The beauty of twentieth-century American religion is that one has a plethora of identities from which to choose, a myriad of communities with which one can associate.

I don't know Ms Rice (I have only a fleeting acquaintance with her writing), but I would ask her whe she doesn't just abandon any notion that she is a Roman Catholic and seek out her local Unitarian/Universalist congregation (for only one example) and seek spiritual fulfillment there.

Her story reminds me of those we read here of Methodists, Presbyterians, Anglicans, etc., who are uncomfortable with what they hear from the pulpit ... and seek to change that to seek their needs. I can sympathize up to a point, but -- at the end of the day -- why not just take your passion to folk who share it? Life is too short to transform a spirtual journey into a battle of human wills and egos.


Great point. I often wonder about that very question, which you have put so well. I think there could be variety of answers, but no really good one to my knowledge. One possible one is that when we hit middle age
we crave a tonic of sorts that will reinvigorate us. A more strict form of religion would seem to be that tonic, at least at first. Of course then the tonic we sought becomes revealed for being, maybe, a poison. That is perhaps what Ms. Rice discovered.

Truly, there is nothing new under the sun.

p.s. I am also am similar to you in that I barely know her works, and found the movies a big bore. All these vampire things seem premised on the same tedious sense of discovery: OOOh, there is a sex drive, and then the forbidden equation of eating with sex. All very naughty, but how many times can one have the insight!??

Sounds like Anne Rice wants to mold Jesus to what she wants. I can understand having issues with organized religion, but IU'm not sure how you quit Christianity without quitting Jesus.

I think *ever* Christian molds Jesus to suit his/her needs.

I also think Ms Rice is dealing in semantics: she wishes to adhere to the teachings of Jesus without buying into the sprawling thing that is "Christianity." After all, can anyone attest to Jesus' own "Christianity"? The historical Jesus of Nazareth was a teacher and a Jew. The mythology (and I mean that in the most objective Joseph Campbell way) that sprung up *after* his death spawned "Christianity."


Maybe the best thing we can say is that Jesus spoke in riddles. Riddles that have the potential to save you from yourself.

Dana and Monsignor

Granted I could have done without the sarcastic, sneering, and condescending, “Got it?” I apologize. But I’ve always failed to understand what people mean by “tone.” Identifying everyone as a sinner (including me) would not seem to be consistent with holding myself out as superior. I may have been heavy handed in my response, but you must admit, your failure to distinguish between goodness of God and the frailties and malice of human vanity warranted some level of an outraged response.

The only time I was tempted to thoughts of superiority was in my youth when I was exceptionally better at a particular sport, but I cured it real easy (actually God cured it) when I had to deal with being considerably short of being able to perform at the professional level. (It gave me a free undergraduate education though.) I believe my countering arguments to other points that were made have been clear enough not to be characterized or trivialized by stylistic or sociological assumptions.

When I pray my daily rosary, I am reminded that a vale of tears world has not been limited to the years I’ve been on earth. But if our age has one single distinguishing characteristic, it would have to be the denial of sin. Monsignor gives the impression that he places too much stock in sociological determinism. I do not, but there certainly are lowest common denominator social factors that drive our mythologies. The post war period, when Western civilization should have gained insight into the horrible repercussions of false beliefs, instead advanced new theories to justify tyranny. A profound fool like Sartre was taken seriously as a philosopher. Instead of blaming the dirty water of human vanity, the West decided to throw out the proverbial baby and cynically blamed their religious heritage for their political debasements.

I do not commit sociology—something Christians should not really do because it denies God’s sacred plan for each individual—to note that certain prejudices tend to be adopted among those who like to think of themselves as intelligent and sophisticated in order to sustain their illusions. The quickest path to being a fool is to deny a capacity for being one. “Traditional morality” has always been a popular subject of scorn among intellectuals because it is viewed as an artificial inhibition to social and political progress, a barrier to the prerogatives of the elite minds intellectuals prefer to trust “for new answers,” the assumption being that God, if He exists, is not adequate and did not get it right with the truths He has given us, and now we need “geniuses” to tell us all about new ways on how to live. Religion is seen by the intellectually self-anointed as little more than a hobby or, more likely, a neurosis of the insecure lower classes.

Anne Rice’s fundamental problem seems to be never wanting to have any belief that would cause her embarrassment in front of those who spend Sunday morning reading the Times while deriding those go to Church. She seems oblivious to the fact that the Times has never had a problem denying America’s foundational principle of natural law over politics while lauding “intellectuals” from Rousseau, to Bertrand Russell, to Sartre who denied precisely that and were quite open about wanting to reduce the world’s population through a “daring” elimination of all those living marginally. If it meant killing one or two billion, “What of it” was Russell’s eager response. The Times suppressed information about Stalin’s mass murder of Ukrainians, and it took them almost fifty years to manage a two paragraph apology for “a possible ten million lives lost.” Yet they still actively try to discredit scholarship that places the figure closer to thirty million. We know their allies in mainstream Hollywood will never make a movie depicting the brutality of progressive governments.

Moral sophistry runs wild culturally because it runs wild in the individual soul. A denial of sin is exponentially more consuming than the original transgressions, and a Catholic Church, where the practice of Confession has all but died, only provides a wimpy witness. How else can we explain an almost 30 year continuous claimed apparition where the unspecified vision makes the preposterous proclamation that “To God there is no difference between right and wrong, it is you who make these divisions” receives adulation from millions who proclaim loyalty to the Mother of God? And not many are willing to act urgently to discredit the idiocy.

I do not judge you of the event but encourage you to consider a possible venial sin by publicly invoking a public example of very probable bad behavior. I slip into it too from time to time, so do not think I single you out. But every act of presumption is a small transgression of the eighth commandment. Bearing false witness to ourselves counts too. Like I keep saying, sin is more common than we pretend. The complete specifics of anti-Semitism or wife-beating by a movie maker, although probably real, is not right to take for granted when we are dependent by a media establishment of shamelessly calculated and enforced stupidity, not to mention one with an indisputable animus towards the Catholic faith.

Anyhow I have to fly out to Calif to help another unemployed friend move back east, so I’m out of here. I apologize for my abrasiveness, especially towards Monsignor for not addressing him properly. I’m riding a real big angry streak right now. One thing we can all agree on is to say a prayer for each other.


I think she's invented a new religion, freelance Christ follower.

Might we no longer see the Messengers (the saviors, sages, avatars, and saints) of all the different religions as superior and separate from ourselves ... and inherently different from each other? Might we understand that each of them came for all of us? They all preached the same message of Love: for everyone to everyone. They don’t come to tell us what to do, so much as show us who we are by simply being who they are and showing us themselves.

Perhaps because the Messengers have appeared at different times in different places to different peoples, each group was misled to believe that that message and that Messenger was for them alone, that the notion of how special they were was meant for them alone above all others. It was never intended for any of Them to be in competition or contention with one another. Their apparent differences were only to make them easier to relate to by peoples who saw each other as disparate, this limited perception due to the illusion third dimensionality presents of separateness.

The purest and truest interpretation of the doctrine of these Messengers was its revelation of the divine power, essence, and identity within--not outside--each and all; that all--though, perhaps distinct from one another--are fundamentally the Same, each a drop in the Ocean of the All That Is.

What of those who claim Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Moses--to name but a few--as Saviors ordained to them alone, to the exclusion of all others? For millennia misguided zealots have condemned, tortured, and massacred those who venerate the same Source because they do so through a different representative to the finite realm of the same Infinite Source. Hate has been perpetuated in the name of Representatives and Embodiments of Love. People separate themselves and group together, considering anyone outside their group as “lost;” that the only way to be “saved,” to find the God that is, in truth, fully and equally present (if not expressed or realized) within each and all, is to join that group and adhere exclusively to that one particular messenger.

Would a God of Love condemn someone--anyone--to eternal suffering, much less someone who chose to worship through a different messenger than one followed by one particular group ... among countless different groups? Surely the Messengers embrace the sorrow of their dear children fighting wars over what is tantamount to the preferred way to love God.

Despite the impassioned, inflexible belief behind such behavior, it is neither encouraged nor condoned by any of the Divine Messengers.

Might we begin to believe, not in a divine power outside ourselves, but one within each and all of us? Might we see Who we really are and no longer accept or tolerate limitations imposed by a mistakenly dismal perception of what it is to be human? Might we see how crazy it is to condemn each other in the name of Jesus, Allah, Krishna, Buddha, Moses ... and live our lives in Love as they lived theirs?

When we don’t just talk about it, but live our lives in love, horror ends; grace and well-being abound; and fear is quelled. We realize that our lives are not separate selfish quests for gratification, but that we are interconnected with each other, all life, and all things. We realize that Love does conquer all ... even fear ... especially fear.

That’s not to say it’s easy to change. To think differently ... to choose differently ... is to act in contradiction to how most of us have been raised and how we expect each other to behave. The critical thing to remember is, we’re in this together and we can help each other get through it. Love is the key.

Aubrey Manning, compiled from "The Folk of Yore - Sacred Mission, a Journey of Destiny" and "Known and Knowable"

I been a minister for over 20 yrs before I became like Ms Ann Rice I left the church but not GOD.So it will come that people will come to there sence about religion.I seen enough to know that religion is man made and its always about money.never really helping the community.So I hope I can get a chance to meet you in person so we can talk more on this.

It's rather sad to hear that Anne Rice has formed this impression of Christians, which are quite a diverse group. Most of the observations she has made I would expect from someone who has had no actual contact with Christians and had therefore formed their opinions exclusively from what they had read. It makes one wonder what company of Christians she was keeping. It also makes one wonder how many of her opinions may have come from listening to so-called "Christian leaders", most of whom have large followings that still represent a tiny minority of Christianity. Most Protestants do not follow or recognize any "leaders" outside of their own congregation's pastor. Because of this, they are often under the media radar, although they make up an overwhelming majority of Christians in the United States.

I'm sad that Anne has come away with this impression, but there is nothing wrong from a conscience standpoint for one's Christian faith to be exclusively an individual pursuit. Many have found it necessary to break from denominational ideology and authority.


If I could meet her in person, I would
love to say "Thank you Anne Rice –
for so very articulately stating what
I have felt in my heart for years" !!!!

One's 'Faith-in-Christ’ should IN NO WAY
be tied into the man-controlled 'Religion'
that so many refer to as "Christianity"
(especially that apostate, psuedo-religious
political-movement called 'evangelicalism')

It took me forever to realize that my
relationship with God (as established
through Christ Jesus, God The Son) was
IN NO WAY dependent on the apostate
psuedo-religious movement sweeping
America in the name of the "church".

If Christ were walking the earth today,
a lot of these same "religious" types
would be the first to demand that He
be 'crucified' -- and based merely on
who He chose as FRIENDS (women,
gays, foreigners, immigrants, the poor,
the rejected, the downtrodden, the rich,
men, old, young, happy, sad, and so on).

The "evangelicals" (not to be mistaken
for TRUE FOLLOWERS of Christ) and
other "church" types have essentially
hijacked the Christian 'Faith' in order to
turn it into a mammon-worshipping,
power-mongering, "Religion" of hate.

These people are more akin to a system of
ANTI-CHRIST (i.e. “against”-Christ) than
to anything tied into WHO CHRIST IS.

Their evil has reached such profound levels
that even people who know and love Christ
are turned off from them and their words
(again proving these “church” types are
really nothing more than anti-Christ,
self-righteous Pharisees and are not
even remotely related to Jesus Christ).

Never again will I waste my time stepping
into the psuedo-religious social-club that
is known as "church" or associate myself
with the political-clique that is known as
'christianity' -- because FROM NOW ON
-- I realize that I do NOT "need" either
in order to have a relationship with MY
LORD JESUS CHRIST (in fact, those
two entities were actually 'interfering'
with my relationship with God)

(no matter if rich, poor, gay, straight, male,
female, sickly, healthy and so on) -- AND
CHRIST (not the so-called"church") IS





“For God did NOT send His Son
into the world – to condemn
the world, BUT that the world,
THROUGH HIM, might be SAVED !!!!”

JESUS CHIST – and *not* the institution known
as “the church” or the religion called “christianity”



If there was no religion then there wouldnt be any place to go to church. I do agree that a personal relationship with Christ is more important, but any obedient church should be encouraging that anyway. The bible tells us to worship with a fellow body of believers. Churches do get things done for God that someone on their own cant do.

Short story:

I came to faith right after high school. Went to college, got married, had kids, started a career and volunteered at church. Eventually I got on staff at a church. That finally put the effluent right in my face... and I asked God what to do. I knew the answer involved "different". We started a church, to be utterly real, led by his Spirit and the Bible, and reach out to those not enamored with "church". That bore some fruit, but was overall very painful. Crap, now what. ... Burned out... I deliberately emptied everything I was out to God and said, "Okay, please burn up whatever is not of you. i don't care about what I've always thought, or been told, or thought mattered. Jesus rose from the dead and I love my wife and kids. Everyone and everything else... light it up." That was late 2006.

It was a painful, but beautiful liberation. Much unlearning has taken place. The church we started shut down in early 2008. We now are free of any thoughts of building an organization... a thing... there is just life, with Jesus at the center. I just want to simply follow Jesus, right here, right now, together... with others who think and feel the same. And we are.

The fruit of the last 5 years is at:

Ha. I had NO idea how different He meant...

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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