Monday, 9 August 2010


Writers, Anne Rice(L) and Fay Weldon(Above)


In the last couple of weeks two prominent women in the literary world have grabbed the headlines with matters relating to faith and fellowship. Back in 1976 Anne Rice published her first novel, ‘Interview With The Vampire’, a book that enjoyed huge success in the ‘erotic horror’ genre, later in 1994 the book was made into a cult movie starring brad Pitt and tom Cruise. Rice went on to write several more volumes in her ‘Vampire Chronicles’ series all going to the top of the best seller lists. Boosted by the huge success of the screen version her debut novel has gone on to sell over 8 million copies to date.Then in October 2004 Rice announced through the pages of ‘Newsweek’ magazine that she henceforth would “write only for the Lord.” True to her word she subsequently published ‘Christ the Lord-Out of Egypt’, the first in a series chronicling the life of Jesus. In her memoir, ‘Called Out of Darkness’ she explained her return to Roman Catholicism and faith, “In the moment of surrender, I let go of all the theological or social questions which had kept me from God for countless years. I simply let them go. There was the sense, profound and wordless, that if He knew everything and that, in seeking to know everything, I’d been all my life, missing the entire point.”

In July of this year Anne Rice publicly renounced her dedication to the Roman Catholic faith yet maintaining her personal commitment to Christ. She explained this change of heart on her Facebook page, “ For those who care, and I understand if you don’t ; today I quit being ‘Christian’ or 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.” This reminds me of the encounter between the great Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi and Christian missionary E. Stanley Jones. Jones impressed with Gandhi’s knowledge of the New Testament asked, “Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?” Gandhi replied, “Oh, I don’t reject your Christ. I love your Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike your Christ.” And indeed any of us who have struggled with fellowship over the years can testify how difficult it is to live in harmony with many who follow the Lord. I have wrestled with this dilemma myself, trying to remain obedient to Jesus’ clear command that we are to love one another and ‘putting up’ with some of Gods most ‘peculiar’ people.
As I write this I full well realise that there is no more ‘peculiar’ disciple than I and I in turn have created multiple difficulties for my brothers and sisters ! Still, the plain commandment of Jesus does not allow us wriggle room in this regard, and John expounds the principle well in his epistle, “If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.” (1 John 4:20) I am relieved that Rice’s personal faith in Jesus remains intact and leaving the monolith that is the Catholic church is no bad thing, but the imperative remains for her as for every believer to meet together, “Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)

Another well known lady in the literary firmament is Fay Weldon, the celebrated author and outspoken feminist. She came to faith through attending a traditional Anglican church after a visit from the Vicar started her on her journey to ‘belief’. Ten years ago at age 69 she was baptised at Saint Paul’s Cathedral. One spark that ignited this new found spiritual dimension in her life was when she was asked to write an introduction to the Book of Corinthians, Paul’s New Testament epistle. As she read the words of the Apostle she was struck by their relevance to her own life. She explains, “I was more or less converted by St. Paul. What he had to say was so new at that time, and yet still so relevant.” It’s encouraging to be reminded that the Word of God and the reality of Jesus can still transform even the stoutest unbeliever, a fact often overlooked as Christianity is being attacked as never before in a plethora of so called ‘scientific’ books attempting to consign ‘faith’ to the dustbin of human history. Titles such as ‘God Is Not Great’, ‘The God Delusion’ and ‘The Da Vinci Code’ scream that the end of Christianity is nigh, the stories of Rice and Weldon suggest otherwise.

Gerard O'Shea


Andrea said...

I needed to read this today. Thank you for sharing it.

Firieth Mystways said...

It's interesting that you should write about Anne Rice. I stumbled across her story through a National Public Radio story just a while ago and it really resonated with me as I find myself struggling with the same issues. As Bono has said, "I don't doubt God. I have firm faith absolutely in God. It's religion I'm doubting.” Thanks for sharing, Gerard. :)