"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."Ten years after her return to Catholicism (she was an atheist before that), Rice said she still believed in God, but that,
"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 an interview with the LA Times a few days ago, she also said,
"I've also found that I can't find a basis in Scripture for a lot of the positions that churches and denominations take today, and I can't find any basis at all for an anointed, hierarchical priesthood. So all of this finally created a pressure in me, a kind of confusion, a toxic anger at times, and I felt I had to step aside. And that's what I've done..."But is that even possible? Is it not an oxymoron to state that you are committed to Christ yet not a Christian? Isn't that a bit like saying you are a citizen of America but not an American.
The reality of such a claim would be that you belong to America, but do not want to be associated with America’s people in any way – really meaning some of America’s people, not all.
I think I understand that.
I was talking this evening with an old friend. Well, I've known her for about seven years. She's 76 years old. She left The Church years ago.
"I'm spiritual," she said, "not religious."
She's said that often enough over the years. Tonight, I asked her why.
"Well, you know I have a son who is gay. When he came out, The Episcopal Church was not where it is today. They were brutal to him," she said as the pain, still almost as fresh as the day it happened, seemed to catch in her throat.
"I got so angry, it consumed my thinking. I couldn't pray. I couldn't go back to that church. I couldn't go to any church. I would just get too angry. The anger just seemed to poison my heart and my soul. So," she said, "I walked away. It was too toxic."
Ann Rice's son, Christopher, is also gay. He's a gay writer and a gay activist. He's written five best-selling novels.
The Irish Times recently ran this story:
AN 80-YEAR-OLD woman is organising a one-day boycott of Sunday Mass “by the faithful women of Ireland” next month.Whether or not this action will make a difference remains to be seen. But, at least she's doing something. And, organizing other women to do the same.
Jennifer Sleeman from Clonakilty in Cork said she wants “to let the Vatican and the Irish church know that women are tired of being treated as second-class citizens”.
She has called on the Catholic women of Ireland to “join your sisters on Sunday, September 26th. On that one day boycott Mass. Stay at home and pray for change. We are the majority. We may have been protesting individually but unremarked on, but together we have strength and our absence, the empty pews, will be noticed”.
She said: “Whatever change you long for, recognition, ordination, the end of celibacy, which is another means of keeping women out, join with your sisters and let the hierarchy know by your absence that the days of an exclusively male-dominated church are over.”
What I've come to understand about the folks who come to read this blog is that you are very intelligent people. You've already made some connections, haven't you?
These three women are saying 'no more' to the toxic anger that results from the sexual abuse of innocent children at the hands of an 'anointed, hierarchical priesthood'.
To the denial of the right to women to have control over decisions made about the reproductive rights of their own bodies.
To the Pope's outrageous, embarrassing, hideous public suggestion that condoms - especially in the Global South - to control the AIDS pandemic was not a good thing.
To the equally outrageous public condemnation of a Roman Catholic nun because she approved an abortion for a dying mother in a RC Hospital.
To the misogyny that tries to keep women out of positions of ecclesiastical authority or "in their place" - which as been determined by dry, brittle, frightened old men - or insecure young men who have been very carefully taught - who lurk in the halls of power in every church and every denomination.
And, no to the churches that spent millions to come in to the state of California and deprive gay citizens of their civil rights to same-sex marriage.
Ms. Rice asked, "What does that say about organized religion?" She added, "And finally, the pressure built up, the toxic anger built up, the confusion built up and I thought, 'I have to get out this. I want God to be the center of my life and somehow I'm in bed with the devil."
Toxic anger will do that to you.
Or, it will destroy your heart and your soul and, eventually, your mind.
I suspect more and more mothers - and their husbands and children - will be walking away from more and more organized religions.
And, I can't say as I blame them.
God needs to be at the center of our lives. God is not at the center of organized religion when rigid rules are used to oppress and intimidate and hurt God's people and creatures and creation.
I know many people - good Christian folk in good Christian churches - who are filled with toxic anger and confusion.
And, they are walking away. They are becoming "spiritual but not religious".
And, they're not coming back.
They are becoming, instead, "faithful outsiders".
It occurs to me that Jesus and his disciples were the "faithful outsiders" of their day. They were the "People of The Way". They were filled with 'toxic anger' at the organized religion of their day and left to start their own movement.
Yes, of course, there are "faithful insiders" - those who work for change from inside organized religion, like that 80 year old woman from County Cork, Ireland. They are angry, but their anger has not reached toxic levels. Or, maybe it has. They are still able to turn their anger into action designed to get the institutional church to wake up and pay attention.
I think these three women, these three mothers, are the Madonnas of the Body of Christ, who is being mocked and scourged by the religious zealots of our day.
There is an old saying that when a woman makes a decision to end abuse, something in the cosmos shifts - some energy is released, and the universe conspires - breathes together - to unleash the power to bring the abuse to an end.
I think that 'energy' is the Holy Spirit. Ruach. Shekinah. The Holy Ghost. The Spirit unleashed as a gift of the Resurrection of Jesus. The Spirit present at the beginning of creation.
It is, I would submit to you, the power of The Divine Feminine.
It is the antithesis of toxic anger. It is the power of God to restore justice and bring the healing power of mercy and peace to a broken, chaotic world.
It is not abandonment. It is "letting go and letting God."
The Spiritual Journey toward something new, something whole and holy, often begins when you walk away from the toxic anger in the places where you live and work and pray.
In the name of God. In the Name of Christ. By the power of the Spirit.