Sunday, November 21, 2010

Anne Rice and a new exodus?

According to the ladies at the Wartburg Watch, a lot of formerly committed evangelicals are now calling themselves atheists. I have made cyber-acquaintance with a few over at No Longer Quivering. I have a cyber-friendship with one such person who has come full circle and wants to return to enjoying a walk with Jesus, albeit without returning to organized religion or at least not the organized religion of her past. Her blog is fittingly titled Chronicles of a Christian Heretic.

Anne Rice, famous author of the Vampire Chronicles, turned away from atheism and embraced Christianity, specifically Catholicism, a decade ago. Recently she felt that in order to be true to the teachings of Christ, she needed to separate from the organized religion of Christianity. Fox news had this report at the time.

More than one young woman, having been raised in a committed evangelical home, complete with daily devotions and weekly church attendance, are now questioning how what they have personally internalized from the Bible and more importantly, the ministry of the Holy Spirit in their lives, fits together with what is being taught in American churches. Men also are beginning to question what they have blindly believed and taught all these years as "the true faith".

What is going on here? Is this a Spirit led exodus out of the politicized business model that has become American Christianity? Is all of it the responsibility of the American Christian booksellers/curriculum providers/church growth/music/movie industry? For the capitalist enterprise that is the Christian market, it has been very profitable to promote a parallel Christian society that exists apart from and in opposition to "the world", i.e. all the other dear people with whom we share the planet.

I'm just wondering out loud, but maybe the death of the American church industry wouldn't be such a bad thing. My mentor, good friend and life-long Catholic believer has quit going to church because of the politicized, hierarchical money-making empire she believes her church has returned to with recent papal decisions. As for me, good Protestant I was raised to be, everything that I see is wrong with the Catholic church is wrong with the rest of the organized American religious empire.

We may not have ever sold pardons, but we have still twisted the good news of salvation to a profit-making enterprise that steals from the poor and blesses the rich. Ed Young Jr is merely one high profile preacher to get called out on the "tithe or God will getcha!" sermons I have heard in so many churches. How is that so different from selling indulgences? Both are taking money from people under the guise of "god's will".

All over my little corner of the internet, I am finding people who are fed up with abusive churches, pastors, and doctrines. Most of these people, like myself, like Anne Rice, are not leaving Christ Jesus. We haven't rejected the Bible. We reject how so-called "spiritual authorities" have misapplied the Bible to build up their own influence, power and wealth.

We are however coming out and voicing our discontent, and not letting people shame up with misapplied verses to get us to shut up. The internet has given formerly marginalized people a voice, and we are using it. The exodus I speak of is an exodus out of silence. In some cases it is also an exodus out of organized religion. It raises even more questions for me.

The apostle John wrote "we proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you may also have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ...if we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin." (I John 1:3.7) Surely he was not referring to the superficial Sunday morning gathering most American churches call "worship". It has to mean more than that, something real, heartfelt, and yes metaphysical.

Maybe it means you and I meeting over the internet and making the effort to come together in real life and pray for one another. Maybe it means having communion like Jesus first shared it- around the dinner table with friends- remembering how Jesus died for all of us and secured the new covenant in his blood for the remission of our sins! A joyful thing, not a solemn religious ceremony; a meeting of people you know and want to spend time; not a public event controlled by a grave man who does not personally know you and passed out by other dour-faced suit-wearing middle aged strangers.

Anyhoo, I have to go hang out with my daughter now. I leave you with musings and questions, and I have no plan to come back later and give you any "answers". Enjoy the mysteries. SS


  1. I have a few minutes on my lunch break at my conference to respond to your post. Religion has always been about power-brokering and controlling the masses for the temporal and material benefit of those who do the controlling. It is nothing new and it is not specific to any religious tradition. What is new is that secular atheism has become a viable alternative to merely going through the motions to survive in a society. Atheism as we understand it has only become possible in a post-Enlightenment, modern world.

    When religious imperialism and political imperialism were more intimately intertwined, it was not really possible to go one's own way philosophically. Hence, the rise of mysticism as a fringe movement in all religions. As secular, scientific individualism grew in the zeitgeist of the world, mysticism has become less tolerated in all the religions. Mystics were/are people who have found their own way to make sense of the Divine and their relationship to it, sometimes only barely within the conventions of their container religion.

    Just as atheism has become a socially approved individual reaction to religious excess, a more free-lance mysticism has developed as well. Much of the so-called New Age movement is nothing more than people searching for their own religionless relationship to Divinity. I have found that I have much more in common with mystics of every religion than with the orthodox of any. I am a heretic by any religion's dogma and doctrines but cannot be atheist in its usual understanding either.

  2. heh heh Sandra, so are you changing the name of your blog to Chronicles of an All-Inclusive Heretic? =D

  3. free lance mystic, Equal Opportunity Heretic. Nah, I've got to limit myself to Christianity, I think. Even in heresy, if you're a jack-of-all-trades, you are master of none. :)

  4. Excellent musings! "Pagan Christianity" by Frank Viola is a great read as well as the sequel "Reimaginging Church." Many others have voiced similar concerns over the years with institutionalism of the church. I and my family also left organized Christianity over a year ago and can never return. It really is about knowing Jesus Christ and Him crucified together in close loving relational community. You are blessed!

  5. I think that our 6000 year old earth is to blame for much of this mess. The world was once Officially Flat, the church eventually had to cede that point as science proved otherwise. Science has unequivocally demonstrated Evolution to be truth and that the Universe is 13.7 billion years old, or so.

    The religious minded will have to cede this point just like they had to abandon the Flat Earth, and Earth is the Center of the Universe theories.

    Anyone who will take up their Bible and read it, starting at the beginning will find not a book of love and wisdom from a Good God, but a horrid, bloody history of a murderous bronze age tribe of people. It's a book filled with hundreds of cases of genocide and ethnic cleansing. Incest, murder, child-molestation.

    God and Jesus both had nothing bad to say about Slavery, something you and I KNOW to be wrong.

    The early church was a widely varied thing. Congregations and denominations ranged from the purely aesthetic to the orgiastic, both in the name of Christ.

    The Holy Roman Catholic Church rose to power because Rome's military might had waned, and they needed a new way to control the people.

    They stole Christianity, warped it's books to meet their ends, and exterminated those who wouldn't go along with them.

    So effective were their techniques that few had the bravery to stand against them for over 1500 years. Martin Luther led the first great Evolution of Christianity.

    I believe another one is happening now. People are beginning to read their bibles and see them for what they are. Repositories of ancient truths, wisdoms and atrocities, that have been edited for the purpose of controlling the masses.

    With a 6000 year old Earth and Biblical understanding of human nature... the Devil makes you lust and do various selfish acts.

    With a 13.7 billion year old Universe and a 4.3 billion year old Earth, we are descended of a long chain of animals. Our brain is the result of eons of evolution and posesses structures very similar to the brains of crocodiles, with structures on top of it not terribly dissimilar to those of rodents, birds and "lower" mammals. We have a slice on top that makes us aware, conscious and gives us free will, if we can realize that we only "use 10%" of it.

    The trick is, that other 90% isn't just sitting there, it's the Devil. In it lies those base, reptilian desires of lust, hunger, rage and fear. In the mammal structures we have compassion, love, devotion and altruism. And in that 10%, we have reason, logic and morality.

    I like to think of it as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.

  6. Philosothink,

    Do you read Gregory A. Boyd by any chance? I am fascinated by the Open View of the Future, and by the concept of a Loving God who created a dynamic, interactive universe that is continuing to unfold before Him, yet within prescribed limitation set in place by God at creation.

    Also, the EMDR therapy which is truly setting me free from PTSD symptoms, works. It works. I know that it is based on the brain theories that you describe above. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, and the pudding is filling, nutritious and tasty.

    There was once when I believed that any talk of evolution of any kind was blasphemous, but now I see the beauty and grandeur of a God more wise and creative and intelligent than the static staid God my Grandma taught.

    One thing I know, Jesus Christ answered my heart's cries in amazing, metaphysical ways known only to me, yet those experiences changed my life forever. Also, these things the Lord revealed to me support the truth of redemption, resurrection, eternal omniscient omnipotent Divine Love. In other words, my experiences and the gospel are in perfect harmony.

    I also have found great healing and comfort in learning that I am now "in Christ Jesus" and that life is meant to be lived in union with the Holy Spirit who loves me and lives in me. His word truly is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.

    I see the Bible as the story of many people whose lives were touched by God in some way. They are recorded for our learning, not necessarily for our emulation. All those incidences of incest, genocide, rape, murder- I have no doubt they all happened. None of those things are at all acceptable under the new commandment Jesus gave: love one another as I have loved you.

    Slavery is unacceptable if we love one another as God loves us. So in that respect, Jesus did teach against slavery. But also in Revelation 15:22, when the Apostle John says certain people will not make it into the fellowship of Love/God, those outside include "sexually immoral" that would actually be correctly translated "whoremonger"- those who traffic in sex slaves.

    Did you see my post "to bmmt"?

    I totally agree that the YEC stuff is divisive and unnecessary. Check out the link in that post. There is actually someone holding seminars on Geocentrism, claiming that there is a huge scientific conspiracy going on and the earth really IS the center of the universe! 0.0

    Final word: Welcome, friend! Thank you for you insights.

    You too, John S Wilson III. =) Pagan Christianity is on my reading list. Still pushing through The Fall of Patriarchy by Del Birkey and Across The Spectrum, but I will get to Pagan Christianity soon.

    Peace and good will to you all, my brothers and sisters in Christ, in love, in learning and in liberty! SS

  7. I am one of those Christians who doesn't have much to do with religion. I love God and believe Jesus Christ came to save us from our sins & that through JC is the only way to salvation and heaven.

    However, religion & all their man made rules can go jump in the lake of fire. They are NOT what God had in mind & I for one, no longer support them.

    If you want to learn to 'how' to read the Bible and have some those troubling questions addressed - I don't pretend to have all the answers - please see my blog:

    In Him,


    An interesting essay on the difference between history and myth and why both are true and necessary to Christianity.