Monday, August 9, 2010

precious pearls: a response to Anne Rice's quitting Christianity

Jesus warned us: "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces."

despite years of boldly (though perhaps, unwisely) expressing myself and thereby collecting injuries from those ready to criticize and "correct" me, i remain shocked –not shocked that people have differing thoughts or feelings than mine– but shocked at who the pearl-tramplers have turned out to be: my fellow Christians.

when i began asking questions and gathering insight in an attempt get to the core of my faith and strip it down to the bare bones to seek Christ without the hundreds of years of non-organic pesticides, additives and preservatives the church threw into the mix (every denomination included) i never imagined that the ones who'd oppose me would be fellow Christians --despite the fact that history more-than-proves that those who question the ways of the church are met with opposition from none-other than it's own members.

and since i have been in the process of stripping everything away --with God's leading-- i have accepted that the central focus of the Christian faith is found in the following passage from scripture:

‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind'; and, 'Love your neighbor as yourself.'

and let's face it, this is where the Christian Church/the Body of Christ on this earth (myself included) has failed. it appears that we would rather judge and criticize everything --and i do mean EVERYTHING-- than actually humble ourselves, examine our hearts and start loving God and one another. can you imagine if we did?! talk about a revolution!

the reason i bring all of this up is in response to the recent announcement author Anne Rice made, stating that she has quit Christianity:

"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 outside. My conscience will allow nothing else...

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."

by saying this, Anne Rice has riled-up the Christian world. but i have to admit that am proud of her --not only because i love a rebel, but because i have been where she is, though on a much smaller scale, of course-- and it is obvious from the supportive response Anne has received that her view is shared by many.

some of the other responses to Anne have been of the trampling kind. these seem to come from Christians who do not believe that God is in control and live in the fear of Satan wreaking havoc in their lives and the lives of others if they “stray” from the Christian norm. they think that Anne is opening herself up to all kinds of evil.

then there is another group of Christians (some call this group the "self-righteous") who undermine and tiss-tiss Anne for her “spiritual immaturity” and “ignorance”.

i readily (and sadly) admit that i was once part of the fearful, as well as the self-righteous Christian camp, and i regret the knee-jerk, hurtful reactions i inflicted. then, by the grace of God and by no merit of my own, God revealed a precious pearl of truth to me: there is tremendous peace in knowing that He is, indeed, in control --from giving us the ability to call Jesus our Lord, to the trials we encounter, the truths revealed and the process of our growth-- He is the author and finisher of our faith –including the faith of Anne Rice.

what Anne Rice has done, by announcing she has quit Christianity, is similar to what so many believers have done throughout history: examine the faith, belief system, doctrines of the church and the ways of Christianity, to see if they truly revolve around loving God and loving one another.

didn't Jesus ask the Jewish people to take a look at their beliefs? didn't the apostles? and Luther? even in the past decade we have had people like Brennan Manning and Rob Bell ask the church to seriously examine itself!

so maybe, instead of haphazardly running out to criticize Anne Rice, we, as Christians, should stop and consider that what she has said is being echoed by hundreds of other Christians in the world, and why that is?

maybe we should take a look at ourselves and the words we say and the way we have portrayed our faith to the world?

maybe (hold onto your hats now) we should ask if perhaps God is trying to say something to His church through Anne Rice???

yes. stop and consider. and please be careful how you tread.

Sunday, February 28, 2010


i have not written any poetry for months, which for me, has been strange. certainly i have had my share of dry spells, as i think every writer/poet does, but this has not been a dry spell, this has been something else. it began a few months ago, when i noticed that every time i attempted to write poetry, it felt, well, nauseating, as though i had opened a plate of leftovers that still looked and smelled edible, but when i put a spoonful in my mouth i discovered it was one day past it's "best if consumed by" date. it was awful! so after this happened several times and i had created and deleted no more than a few lines of poetry, i decided to put writing aside until i figured out what was going on.

perhaps some non-poets would have difficulty understanding why not writing for several months would seem strange and even bother me, well, let me put it this way: nearly every person has something they do that they believe defines them or gives them their identity, whether that something is their job, or being a parent, student, volunteer, athlete, artist, etc. and if, for whatever reason, these people can no longer do what they have been doing, even for a few months, it is often frustrating, frightening, and sometimes, it hurts a hell of a lot too.

after the first couple of weeks of not writing poetry, i kept waiting for those feelings to come, but strangely, they never did. in fact, during this short time of not producing any creative writings, i found it strange indeed, but overall, i have been okay. content, even. and that in itself has been weird.

when i finally decided to survey just what was going on inside of me, i was able to see some very interesting things. first off, when i create poetry, it comes from a dark place inside of me. ever since i was a teen and delved into poetry and journaling, i wrote from an injured, angry, morose and darkly seductive chamber in my soul. not that that is bad, because i know that writing poetry has been an effective way to express my toxic emotions and it has rescued me, many times, from self-destruction.

but over the past couple of years, i have been going through intense recovery, bringing into the light my deepest pains, fears, and illusions. in the light of truth they have been examined, dealt with and healed. with the absence of my pain and fears, the dark place in me became empty except for some old photo albums stacked neatly in the corner. my need to visit the room disappeared. however, when i attempted to write poetry, i would, out of habit, open that creaky door, enter the room and flip through the pages of painful memories in order to try and stir-up something to write about, and it felt uncomfortable, sickening, and just plain unnecessary.

the discomfort i was feeling was also because i had been mis-using my God-given talent by placing my identity in it.* i was a poet -that was my identity- and winning awards and being published felt like validation. but of course, the satisfaction was fleeting, for in my mind, winning awards set the bar (for myself) really high, which in turn caused anxiety: what if my poetry was criticized or rejected? what if i never got published or awarded again? since my identity was in my poetry, i believed that meant any criticism or rejection was really about me.

throughout these past two years of recovery, i have been learning about and experiencing God's unconditional love for me, and i am just now beginning to understand that my identity is not in anything i do or don't do. my identity is something far more precious and wonderful. who i am has nothing to do with my own efforts or choices or striving. it has nothing to do with my successes or failures. whether i write poetry, blogs, a memoir, or nothing at all, whether i am recognized with awards or publication, or if i am rejected by a million editors, it doesn't define who i am.

i believe that in my spirit i somehow knew all of this, and that's why i have been okay with not writing. in my spirit is where Christ resides, and in his love is where i am finding my true self.

this blog is actually the first thing i've written that feels good to write. perhaps, if God is willing (and i believe he is) i will soon be writing poetry again too, although i know my writing process is going to be different since it will be coming from a new place, full of light, truth and life. and i'm looking forward to it.

For once you were full of darkness, but now you have light from the Lord. (Ephesians 5:8)

*i am not saying that God was angry at me or something --i'm not one to be duped by religious guilt and condemnation, but that's a blog for another day.