Over the past two weeks I’ve read several different articles and responses to author Anne Rice’s recent Facebook declaration regarding Christianity. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, you can catch up here (and you might want to pull yourself out from under that rock. Only kidding.).
The topic of Anne’s decision has been blogged and flogged like a dead horse. No need in my adding extra commentary. It is her decision, and one I’m convinced she labored over longer than the two weeks the rest of us have been debating it . To argue about it seems arrogant and insensitive toward something that’s highly intimate, even if she opened the door to public consumption. Perhaps the the article that best mirrors my own hard-earned conclusions on this matter can be found in a blog post by Anam Cara. I don’t know this author; I simply stumbled upon her blog. In her words I found echoes of my own. I wrote something similar in June.
About two years ago I listened to a Christian radio interview of Ms. Rice, during which she spoke passionately about her newly rediscovered faith in Jesus Christ. I found it to be an inspiring and impassioned interview that wrapped itself around me like a blanket of hope. This is in part why I groaned several weeks ago when Ms. Rice announced her departure from Christianity and the Church due to it’s less flattering qualities (namely the poorly-handled conflict and backbiting). She claims she’s hanging on to Jesus, but not his followers.
Fair enough. Any judgment I could possibly conjure up is tempered by the fact that I’ve considered making a similar exit at times, for similar reasons. If I could take Jesus without all the humanity, that would be a great deal indeed. Unfortunately, humanity is inescapable, as long as I live with myself. I’d like to think otherwise, but I’m as inclined to the same conflict and backbiting that Anne witnessed and grew to loathe within the church. I could exit the ornately steepled buildings, but I cannot escape myself. I’ll leave it at that.
For now, I’m most intrigued by how this connects with my recent postings on conflict. I find it telling that the mismanagement of conflict within Christianity is pushing so many toward the door. At the least, we should see this as a shooting flare signaling our need to grow in this area.
Do you see this as a trend? If so, what do you think should be done about it?
I read the interview that you linked on the Q&A with Anne Rice. I have also read this post…I have not read your other posts on conflict. So, I may be going off on my own little tangent, but you have time to read it, right?
The Body of Christ has been given the awesome honor of being Jesus on earth. It is our job to make sure we love everyone, but not sacrifice one inch of ground that belongs to the Kingdom. It's not easy, but no one ever said following Jesus was easy…in fact, He said just the opposite. Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34). Jesus came to bring conflict. It is hard to find a more offensive person in the Bible than Jesus. He taught cannibalism (at least the Jews thought that's what He was teaching), hugged lepers, and used his spit to heal. All of which were defiling acts and ceremoniously unclean. There were times when he turned up the offense to cause conflict because conflict reveals the heart.
Conflict is inevitable. Conflict is necessary. To run away and hide, or try to abolish conflict, is to hand over the keys to the enemy. I agree with Ms. Rice that the Church Body has done a poor job at practicing what we preach. I also agree with her dislike of being referred to as a 'Christian'. But, conflict is necessary to do the job that Jesus gave us when He left, which was, 'As the Father has sent Me, I am now sending you.' John 20:21.
As much as we would love to do away with the humanity of the church and the humanity of the world, the humanity is the only path that leads to the abundant life that Jesus gives. And, it is the only way we get to experience the complete love of God.
Sorry to be wordy, especially since I haven't read all of your posts. I might be going a completely different direction than you were intending with your posts. But, the Body and its cohesiveness is very important to me. There was something about the Q&A with Ms. Rice that took me to this soapbox. I am tired of us giving things to the enemy that are rightfully ours just because we don't want to offend anyone or cause conflict. And I am committed to causing conflict (if necessary) to get everything back that Jesus paid for with the ultimate price. (I promise I won't be offended if you don't allow this comment to be posted 🙂 Also, its late so I'm not real sure how complete my thoughts are coming across…but inside my head it is pure genious) Later!
First of all, I love your wordiness! I find your perspective interesting and compelling in many ways. I agree, conflict is inevitable, and, yes, even necessary at times. To attempt to run away once will leave us running again and again. Thanks for sharing and for your passion on this subject! We all could learn something from it.
interesting to read your thoughts…
It makes me sad, bc the scripture is clear that our love for one another is the single-most telling sign of our faith (it's all over John).
I'm not saying she has no faith, but I am saying it is ironic that she broke up with all of us bc she has objections & disagreements with how we handle conflict & a few other things. I find a messy richness in being a member of a larger faith body – and would grieve the loss. I hope she does have some sort of faith community to hold on to, as informal as it may be. We all need others to walk with us…
This whole situation made me sad, too, for multiple different reasons. I thought of John's words, too … they will know we are His by our love (I paraphrase). We (I!) haven't always done a very good job of this, and I have deep sadness over that.
I love these words you used … "I find a messy richness in being a member of a larger faith body – and would grieve the loss." Me, tooooooo …
Thanks for sharing your beautiful heart, Mandy.