"I'm out," says the Christ the Lord author on her Facebook page, after declaring in '04 that she would "write only for the Lord." What's changed?
Rice's disillusionment, it seems, comes not with the actual tenets of Christianity, but with the definition of being "Christian" in America today. In her words,
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 outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
A few hours later, she expanded on the initial statement, making it clear that this decision was at least partially a political one.
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.
Rice has never been shy about her support for gay marriage, female ordination, and birth control, positions that have long distanced her from both hard-line Catholics and the evangelical community. For a while now, Rice has been drawing attention on her Facebook page to stories that seem to deal with this disconnect between Christianity's message and modern acts of hate committed in its name, such as hate-speech at the Westboro Baptist Church and instances of anti-gay rhetoric. (Also: White Collar.) "Maybe commitment to Christ means not being a Christian," she wrote once and,
Gandhi famously said: "I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." When does a word (Christian) become unusable? When does it become so burdened with history and horror that it cannot be evoked without destructive controversy?
Some fans of Rice's Lestat series were surprised when she turned to Christ is Lord and seemed to tacitly reject so much of what made her earlier work beloved. But for Rice, these issues have always been layered and complex; she's obviously a seeker and a thoughtful person - and it's too bad that she feels there's no room for such qualities in a movement that obviously appealed to her in certain fundamental ways. Her commitment to what initially drew her to Christianity is clear - the disillusionment, as with so many, seems to center around the people who misappropriate and politicize that which she still loves.
What this means for her future work? Impossible for anyone but the author herself to say. But given the thousands who "liked" that post, it doesn't seem like this will do anything to distance her from her devoted fan-base. And while I'm sure there is no shortage of progressive churches that would have no problem reconciling Rice's views with a belief in Christ, organizations aren't for everyone; perhaps "belonging" matters much less when you've managed to create your own world.