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Believing solo

It’s hardly news that someone counts herself in the “religious but not part of an organized religion” camp. Or as novelist Anne Rice described herself: she is a follower of Christ who has decided to quit Christianity. Perhaps Rice’s statement got so much media play because of her much publicized conversion to Christianity a decade ago.

Probably most Christians have days when they want to disassociate themselves from the other people who are trying to follow Christ. But the New Testament grounds for doing so are pretty thin.

Rice said it was the anti-gay, anti-feminist public face of Christianity that she could not longer identify with, and she was especially upset by the Catholic bishops’ opposition to gay marriage. Rice’s own Roman Catholic upbringing—which she renounced at 18, only to return to the church later—seems to figure in her decision: she assumes that the Catholic Church stands for the whole of Christianity. Is she unaware of or uninterested in ways of being Christian other than the Roman way?

Her commitment, though, still seems significant. She told NPR that she couldn’t go back to writing those steamy vampire novels, which she regards as deeply pessimistic about life:

I live now in a world that I feel God created, and I feel I live in a world where God witnesses everything that happens. . . .That's a huge change from the atheist I was when I wrote the vampire novels.

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Anonymous said... I

Anonymous said...

I wonder if there are other reasons why Mrs Rice did what she did, apart from the ones she stated in public. Sometimes it's easier to state the more obvious or political reasons for leaving a church than the more complicated and personal ones.

I don't attend church much, and one of the reasons is the way I feel churches treat those who aren't married. That's the reason I first think of, the one I first speak of.

But it's not the only one, or even the most important. It's also because the Bible died to me, became pointless words on a page (ironically happening as I became a lector). It's because religion conspires with my conscience to make be feel self-hate and oppression (and hatred of others). It's because religion became a habit rather than a living tradition for me.

But how to explain that? Easier to go with the first issue and leave it at that.

Anonymous said... As a

Anonymous said...

As a life-time person of faith, I really do understand that it's easier not to believe in a mysterious, invisible deity than it is to trust and have faith in one.

I also know that it takes much time and personal investment to read sacred texts, scholarly works, and develop a systematic theology for ones self.

Faith is not just church or scripture reading, it's not sitting quietly and being spoon-fed by another person or instituion, it's not blindly following a mysterious deity, it's investing oneself in the mystery to study it and find the truth in it for oneself balanced with the truth found within the community. Faith takes work that most of us are not willing to do.

Jeanne said... Response

Jeanne said...

Response to the first anonymous comment above;
It would appear that you are still seeking God, despite what you say about the Word being dead to you. There is a burning ember in there somewhere or you would most likely have not been on a website like Theolog. Religion and Christ have little in common. Seek Him and find the freedom and acceptance you seek.

Anonymous said... I

Anonymous said...

I see...so when one loses one's faith, it's a matter of not having put in enough "time and personal investment" into developing a systematic theology. Just plain laziness, then.

Nothing to do, of course, with honest doubts and objections to the content of that faith, or the various bad practices of the church, etc...

Andy said... She didn't

Andy said...

She didn't loose her faith in God, she lost her faith in Humanity.

Doug Sloan said... Being

Doug Sloan said...

Being a disciple of the Good News is practicing generosity and hospitality; living non-violently without vengeance; living here and now as one family where all are invited, welcomed, and included without exception or qualification; living in constant relationship with God; and living here and now – not later and not someplace else – living here and now a life transformed by resurrection. The Good News – without application here and now, without making a positive and practical difference in the life of the disciple and especially in the involvement of the disciple in the lives of others – is useless and meaningless and is not the message lived and delivered by Jesus and is not of God.

Our faith life is measured by how we attend to and improve the lives of others – by feeding them, quenching their thirst, clothing them, visiting them in prison, healing them, and welcoming them. Keep in mind that this is a deliberately incomplete list. It works in much the same way as when Jesus tells Peter to forgive, not 7 times, but 77 times – the point being that by the time you forgive someone 77 times, it has become, not an act that has been repeated 77 times, it has become a habit, a path, a journey, a way of life. The point is that by the time you develop the habit of feeding, quenching, clothing, healing, welcoming, and visiting prisons, you have created a new life complete with new values and new goals and new vision. Once you get to this point, you have discovered and claimed (not earned) and embodied your grace-given membership in the family of God, a membership exemplified by faith, love, and service.

(excerpt form RECLAIMING the GOOD NEWS by Doug Sloan)
http://dmergent.org/2010/08/05/reclaiming-the-good-news-an-epistle/

Sally said... but only

Sally said...

but only Andy addressed the issue, which is getting sick and tired of church and leaving. What are the spiritual implications of that? Sitting in your house by yourself, studying the Bible. Taking leftover cans of tuna to the food bank. Donating leftover cash to Haiti. Is this an adequate substitute for a Christian community? Just wondering

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