Friday, July 30, 2010

Faith and Fiction Saturday: A Letter to Anne Rice

Dear Anne Rice,

When I was young, like early high school young, I had a picture of you up in my room. I thought you were so cool, because I loved your vampires and even guiltily read your series about witches. Those books were well loved, beat up around the edges. When I had to write a character study for a creative writing class I chose Louis from your Interview with a Vampire book.

I also grew up in a fairly conservative evangelical Christian home and while my parents weren't thrilled about my fascination with vampires they tolerated it.

I moved on to other reading material and other interests. A few years ago I heard you'd written a book from the first perspective of Christ and the idea freaked me out a little to be honest. I was quickly assured you'd come to a place of faith or restored faith and the book wasn't meant to mock Jesus but I've never been able to read it. He is the one figure I can't read historical fiction about. I do have your memoir sitting in my towering pile of books waiting to be read though, and have watched with interest as you continue to write interesting books.

The other day my google reader was full of posts about your decision to "quit Christianity" I have to admit my heart sank. I understand that faith can be fluid, I do. But it feels like losing a sister. I read on and realized you weren't abandoning Christ but rather the concept of Christianity.

Truthfully, there's a huge part of me that understands this. Parts of the world have an extremely negative take on Christianity and I know many believers who choose not to use the word Christian because of how polarizing it is. There's a history there and it's not always a pretty one. But I have continued to use the word for myself because it is easy and because, I think, most people understand what I'm communicating...I believe Jesus is God.

It is so hard to be lumped together with other people who may not share your practice of faith. I can understand wanting to disassociate but I feel like in so doing you lumped the rest of us together. Many of the reasons you cited for leaving I suspect I feel the same as you and it makes me sad that you've drawn a line and said "these are things Christianity is" I don't believe that to be true and what is so beautiful and splendid about Christianity is that it's an umbrella term for a group of people from all over the world who believe Jesus is God. That's the tie that binds us together, the thread that pulls us close. We have many different theological ideas and beliefs, we practice and worship in a variety of ways, we speak different languages, and we experience life differently. Yes we argue. And yes we get things wrong and yes we need to learn how to give space to differing interpretations. But we're a family, we share a heritage, and a common Father.

One of reasons I so often defend Christian fiction is because it was through a Christian fiction book I was first introduced to the concept of owning the sins of our people. It's so tempting to assume we have nothing to do with what has happened before but it's my deepest longing that we accept that by taking the name Christian we also have the chance to admit we've been wrong. Yes we've been hateful. Yes those who have gone before us and even those with us now have done the most atrocious things in the name of faith. And I am sincerely sorry for the pain it has caused you and others.

I have often felt like I don't fit in as well. I'm a little liberal in some areas and more conservative in others. I'm single and most of the churches have nothing for me. I love reading and the arts and deep Bible study and those are so hard to come by in Christian fellowship. But despite all of this I cannot quit Christianity...I guess I hope by staying that I can begin to reclaim this term, I can be a part of this big messy glorious diverse family. I know you may not reconsider, and I respect your decision to make the choice you feel you must make now. I just want you to know that your voice will always be welcome at my table and in this little section of Christianity.



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