Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Thought on Anne

Continuing on yesterday's theme of not commenting on a news story until I've had time to think about it:

Anne Rice recently announced that she was "quitting Christianity" due to all the hatred and hypocrisy she sees in the church. She remains committed to Christ, and even argues that this commitment is why she is leaving Christianity.

She's certainly in good company. Ghandi once said, "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians." You might be doing something right anytime you can put yourself in that kind of company.

The blogosphere has, predictably, had a variety of reactions. Doug Pagitt is empathetic. Thomas McKenzie challenges Anne to become more mature in her faith. Matthew Paul Turner brings the wonderful dose of snark for which we love him.

I can see where Anne Rice is at. I certainly find the hatred, divisiveness, insecurity, arrogance, and whoring ourselves out to political parties to be very unattractive aspects of the Christian-media-industrial-complex. If that group was the chief spokesman (and they are very male-centric) for Christianity, I'd be wary of staying within the ranks, too.

This is where I'm supposed to make the argument that the Christian faith is also full of wonderful people who are loving and accepting. And that's absolutely true. I even like to think that I'm one of those people! But making that argument tends to descend into the same "us vs. them" camp that makes my skin crawl. The unfortunate truth is that when I use that argument to defend Christianity I'm as bad as the ones that Anne Rice and I reject.

The real situation is that the church is full of people. And people are capable of as much good as they are bad. We wouldn't be able to perform gracious, loving acts if we were not equally able to reject, condemn when it's none of our business, and destroy with no regard for the consequences of our actions. In other words, we bring all of who we are to church. At our best we manifest all the fantastic potential of humanity that Jesus demonstrated. At our worst we embody all the things that Jesus spoke against and died to redeem. Our best and worst exists on individual and collective levels.

The truth is that the church is full of people. The synagogue is full of people, too. So is the mosque, the monasteries of various faiths, and every other gathering of any type of religion. For that matter, the local YMCA, community center, and moose lodge is also full of people. And people bring all of who they are with them. Good, bad, ugly, indifferent.

United Methodist Bishop Will Willamon often says that loving Jesus is easy, but loving those whom Jesus loves is hard. So to reject any group of people, religious or otherwise, is to reject those whom Jesus loves. I don't know if Anne Rice is rejecting Christians (saying she doesn't love them), or simply choosing not to associate with them/us. That's between her and God.

All I know is that God has not given up on humanity. And as much as I want to sometimes, I can't either.

1 comment:

Jessica Miller Kelley said...

Sometimes it feels like people bring the worst of themselves to church, and not the best. But I can do that too, some weeks.

It is definitely easier to love Jesus than those Jesus loved, and I sometimes find it easier to love people I've never met more than those I have.