Anne Rice Quits Church

In another post, bestselling author Anne Rice told you her story – how, through historical research, she became convinced the facts support a real Jesus who rose from the dead. She explains how and why she left atheism to embrace hope.

Then, in 2010, she left the church. She said:

“For those who care, and I understand if you don’t: Today I quit being a Christian … 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.

“My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been or might become.”

Many have asked my thoughts about Anne Rice’s departure from the Catholic Church. Let me tell you my own story of struggling with quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious church people.

When I was 12, my mom went “bipolar.” Manic depressive with mild schizophrenia.

Except that for a year and a half, nobody knew that’s what was wrong with her. We just knew she was impossible to live with.

The fights, the arguments and contention would start as soon as I got home from school every day and stretch past bedtime.

Our entire family was bedlam for a year and a half.

Mom would swing from being your best friend to your worst enemy at the slightest provocation. I’d come home from school and find she’d tossed boxes of my stuff in the garbage. She’d say embarrassing things to my friends.

She insisted dad wasn’t really her husband. She said he was a man who looked just like Bob and she was sentenced to live with him until the ‘real’ Bob came back. When he came home from work she would hurl accusations at him. My brother and sister and I would complain bitterly to him about how she was treating us.

It was almost impossible to not get sucked into some kind of conflict every day. Home was the most dangerous place a kid could be.

My dad was taking her to doctors and counselors but nobody seemed to be able to arrive at any conclusion. Meanwhile, people watched us with a judgmental eye.

My dad was an associate pastor at a very large church in Nebraska, 2000+ members. Dad started getting heat from his boss, the senior pastor, Mr. G, who didn’t like the fact that one of the pastors’ wives was “out of line.”

Mr. G quoted the scripture that says a pastor should be in control of his family and told dad if he didn’t straighten out mom’s problem, he might have to leave.

Dad pursued answers and eventually got mom to a psychiatrist. The psychiatrist diagnosed her with a chemical imbalance and bipolar disorder.

That trip to the psychiatrist was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Psychiatrists and psychologists, in Mr. G’s opinion, were the new high priests of a secular order that would dismiss all human ills as curable illnesses. Psychiatrists didn’t have the courage to call evil by its real names – SIN and DISOBEDIENCE. They existed to give people like my mom an alibi. Mr. G declared Mom insubordinate and rebellious.

Literally on the same day the diagnosis came back, Mr. G and Mr. J, the pastors of our church, visited our house to deliver the news. We all sat in the living room as they announced, “We’ve asked your father to resign from his responsibilities. He’s no longer qualified to be a pastor.”

I listened without much comment. I was 13. My older sister, however, was livid. At 18 she’d formed definite opinions about what had transpired. She started sobbing and retorted angrily to Mr. J: “If people knew what YOUR daughter does when she’s out at night, they’d be forcing you to resign too.”

Mr. J said, “We’re not here to talk about me or my family today, Robin. We’re here to talk about you.”

Earlier that day, dad had been brought before the Board of Elders to hear their final verdict. One by one, they agreed with Mr. G: “Bob, you’re not in control of your family. We’re sorry, you have to step down.” Mr. G demoted dad and announced to 2,000 people the following Sunday that dad had “resigned” so he could “attend to problems with Betty and the family.”

The next months were painful indeed. Few knew the real story. Some gathered around us. Most only knew something disgraceful had happened though and kept their distance. We felt like pariahs.

Dad couldn’t hang with his same friends anymore. He wasn’t invited to lunch at work. They shut him out of staff meetings. They hadn’t cut his pay, but he did lose a tax deduction. Less money to go around.

A couple months later I got into a fist fight at school. Came home with two black eyes. Bad report cards and complaints from teachers. All this added to the mounting case against dad.

He would come home from work every night and sit on the couch and sob. Mom told him it was all his fault for being such a cruel tyrant.

Dad followed through with the psychiatrist’s advice to get her on a prescription drug. Literally within a few days, mom transformed from defiant and combative to quiet and cooperative. The bizarre behavior stopped completely. Not only that, she went from being angry and defensive to feeling deep remorse about her erratic behavior.

Soon it became clear that Mr. G torpedoed dad simply because mom had a medical problem – a chemical imbalance – and that mom’s behavior wasn’t “sin” or “rebellion.” It was a well-understood mental illness. She couldn’t help herself.

Dad was hurt and humiliated and felt abandoned. He desperately wanted to bail. A lot of people told him he should quit his job, especially our relatives who understood the scope of the situation.

Dad thought about pulling up stakes, moving elsewhere. He decided to stick it out. To argue his case and vindicate himself.

Few men had the balls to stand up to Mr. G, but dad did. As mom’s condition improved, he said, “Mr. G, you made a wrong judgment and you need to apologize to my wife.”

Furthermore dad made Mr. G write her a letter of reconciliation, because by this time mom had become terrified of Mr. G. He had, after all, the ability to singlehandedly destroy dad’s career.

Nine months after dad had been demoted, he was reinstated.

Two weeks later dad was diagnosed with cancer.

Had dad cut and run, he would’ve been in a newcomer in some new environment, maybe even starting over in a brand new city, surrounded by strangers.

But since he’d stuck it out and vindicated himself, we were surrounded by a faith community that lent us help with dinners and financial support and prayers and encouragement.

Dad had major surgery. He was cancer free for a year and a half, then it came back. Treatments were unsuccessful, and as it became clear that he wasn’t going to make it, Mr. G secretly mailed a letter to everyone else at church. He explained how this summer might be Bob’s last and it would be really nice to raise some money, so Bob can take a trip to the West Coast.

$10,000 came in. In 1986 that was enough to not only take dad to California, a place he’d always longed to visit, but it was enough to get all of us to Alaska and Hawaii too. Dad experienced a 5 week “last hurrah” with his wife and kids that July.

That October, he died. I was 17.

I can’t tell you how many things I’ve wanted to quit, and didn’t, because dad wouldn’t throw in the towel and walk away from a bunch of quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous people.

And say what you want about ’em, when you’re in the oncology ward with terminal cancer, those are the same people that will probably be with you as you pass from here to the other side.

They will still have their faults and you will have yours, but… blood is thicker than water.

A faith community can become just as close and even closer than your biological family. It’s why they can hurt you so easily.

But there’s no such thing as a real community, or even a real relationship, that isn’t vulnerable. Painfully so sometimes. During our special vacation to California, dad told me that getting rejected and blamed for a mess he had no control of had been worse than dying of cancer was now.

Peter asked Jesus, how many times should I forgive my brother? Seven times?

Jesus said, “Seventy times seven. That’s how many times you should forgive.”

What do you forgive people for, anyway??

For being quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous. For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15.

After the potluck dinners have ended and people start throwing chairs at each other, it’s so easy to pull the plug and run. So many marriages don’t work out, it’s so easy to just live with someone and see how things turn out.

It IS easier.

It’s easier at first.

But when a series of relationships fail, they rip your heart to shreds just as much whether you were married or not. It just seemed like not ‘committing’ yourself lessened the risk. If your “common law wife” leaves you after 10 years, how is that any less painful than if your legally married wife leaves you? Just because it’s ‘unofficial’ doesn’t make it less perilous.

I’ve had to make multiple passes of forgiveness about Mr. G. A few years later when more fiascoes erupted, I had to let go again.

A few years after that, it occurred to me that my dad might not have even gotten cancer in the first place had he not endured two years in such a toxic, unsupportive, humiliating environment. That’s speculation, but still I had even more forgiveness I had to do.

A year ago I realized I needed to confront yet another layer of unforgiveness within myself. I had made a conscious choice to let go of the past, when I suddenly felt God saying to me, “The Father’s Heart is going to be poured out over Mr. G and his church.”

The day you forgive anther person is the day new blessings get released into their life. The day you forgive another person is the day you stop being a victim of whatever they did to you.

Dear Anne Rice, I greatly esteem your writing and your scholarship. I commend you for your adroit case for the historical Jesus. I appeal to you as a brother and member of the imperfect body of Christ, that to exit and publicly denounce them is to embrace quarreling… hostility… and public disputes.

From an individual view it’s all justified. But isolation makes islands of all of us. When we who were mistreated gather together in opposition to those who did us wrong, we inevitably become like those whom we judge.

A few years ago I visited an old college buddy in Washington DC. He was an exquisitely smart, seminary educated man who’d been a pastor in a Protestant evangelical church. He’d recently converted from Protestant to Eastern Orthodox.

Eastern Orthodox??? Most Americans don’t even know what that is.

I was dying to hear his explanation. “I don’t know what Peter’s going to tell me, but it’s sure gonna be interesting.”

I wasn’t disappointed. We sat up late three nights in a row exploring his decision. I don’t have time for the whole story now, but one of the points he made was this: “Protestants have ‘splitting off’ in their very DNA. As soon as they disagree, they leave First Baptist Church to go start Second Baptist Church. Then some of those people split off and form Third Baptist Church and on and on it goes.

“Catholics and Orthodox people don’t automatically do that. They prize unity. I have a bishop over me and he’s like a father to me and my wife. We live in community and in covenant together. He’s responsible to look out for us and we choose to be in a trusting mutual relationship.”

Whether you’re Protestant or Catholic or Orthodox… or if you’re on the outside looking in… I want to encourage you: living the nomad life is less demanding in the short term but lonelier in the long term.

As you make forgiveness a way of life, when you choose to live in community, you earn a kind of compound interest of grace. Months or years do not always reveal the fruit of that. It grows evident over decades. Community is the only place where you truly learn to forgive and learn to love.

The only way we exorcise our demons – both figuratively and literally – is in committed relationships with other people. Those around us are mirrors. They show us our faults, and we theirs. As we bathe those faults in mercy and forgiveness we become the people we aspire to be.

Perry Marshall

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618 Responses to “Anne Rice Quits Church”

  1. Perry, I have no question and do not quarrel with all you say. I will only say that Christian fellowship is not the only fellowship in the world. Buddhists have their sangha and Hindus the ashram and so on. AA is worldwide and spiritual and focussed on a fundamental service, in rehabilitating drunks and getting them back into the mainstream. They are not Christian, though I suspect the members at least in the US are dominantly Christian as a private matter. I tried Unitarian Universalism for a decade. I can’t do church. However I am spirit filled, though it is not a Christian experience. As a member of AA, I have the same experience of fellowship, and we gather round in the same fashion. I know it is the same because I have had the church fellowship experience.

    I don’t intend to argue. I just thought I might say these things in an ecumenical spirit. I think there is a growing tendency and many Christians are trying Orthodoxy as an alternative. Orthodoxy is arguably the Christian mainstream with the Roman version a hollowed out remainder when the Roman Empire went east to Istanbul (then Constantinople)…Hey! That’s a song.

    • Joan Kuhn says:

      After a lifetime as a Catholic (still, more or less) I am glad to read your letter. I know that the Spirit doesn’t neglect the rest of the world. I actually experienced more “church” on the job I recently retired from than ever in most parishes.

      God blesses us all!

  2. Dear Perry,
    I appreciate your follow-up on Anne Rice’s reflection.
    I too had similar circumstances as you, when in a Christian High school in 1996, I suffered from Anorexia/depression. My classmates and all but one teacher wouldn’t speak to me, seemed like I had leprosy, and the rumors began.

    Thank the Lord and my parents guided me and prayed me through a miraculous recovery (2 years later). Bravely, I approached the principal, and I was confronted with something like this, “You’ll have to confess your sins and admit your rebellion. Your psychological issues aren’t an excuse for disobedience and lying.”

    Praise the Lord He is good. Christ died for our sins while we were yet sinners. He washed us white as snow, regardless of our past sins. No one is without sin, and who have we the right to judge? Christ is the only judge. Until He returns, we are commanded to live together in unity.

    It’s only because of God’s grace that I could forgive the past/people who tormented me so long. Not until I could understand the value of my OWN forgivess by Christ, could I have the power and desire to forgive others.

    Forgiveness takes leadership, courage, patience. 70 time 7 is 490 times to forgive a brother. Is that so much? Christ forgave his own murderers, the people who spat in his loving face. How could He do that? Because He was humble, the King of Kings.

    I hope for healing in the hearts of Christians who’ve been hurt by their own community. Not all Christians are petty and quarrelsome- though it may be easier to notice those kind.
    Finally, “do not repay evil with evil, but repay evil with good…”

    I admire your father, Perry, as he reminds me of my own.
    God bless,
    A. Mascho

  3. Pete Onni says:

    Dear Perry,

    Great story! You are so right, it seems so many of us Christians thrive on fighting each other and the beliefs. I always remember what my priest (Episcopal) told me may years ago. “Wherever you go in this world, remember that there is only one God and the message he has sent us. All the rest is made up by us men for often purely monetary reasons and the quest to be better than the fellow man. Nothing to do with the messages and teachings God sent us through Jesus Christ.

    Pete

    • Tino Nazare says:

      Great feedback!
      I am from India. I was brought up a RC. By early 30’s I was simply nothing. RC religion was my cultural identity. I served the Merchant Marines and in the USA en-route searching for meaning in various vices to “fill the void” I was given the Good News. I mocked the Good News bearer…BUT in the last resort this young man told me that “JESUS WAS RISEN from the dead after payment for my sins” and because He lived He was free of drugs (he was an ex-drug addict). My first question was which church you belong? He said he did not belong to any denomination but a “ministry” and most of those who were in his group/community were ex-drug addicts.
      He gave me the gospel which included the element of REPENTANCE which was different from shedding “crocodile tears” from my cultural religion. It involved a TURNING from selfishness and receiving Jesus Christ and walking in His footsteps. That was way back in 1979. I repented and turned to Jesus behold and LO! He filled the void, I, for the first time KNEW what true peace was in Nov 1979…
      The battle of denominations came next: And I have struggled, since then, I kept a style of evangelism. Telling people that Jesus was ALIVE and He changed me and I live for Him and He has done SO MANY things in my life. I do not follow Him for the “goodies” but for WHO He is….
      After I left this ministry, after spending 2-1/2 years in it. I tried various church denominations. Mine they called “Para-church” [whatever that means]. A church is an assembly of “Two or three gathered” -these “two or three” are saved sinners, or better sinners saved by grace telling other sinners how to REPENT and TURN to Christ and by an act of their free will drop tDenominations for me were a stumbling block – here I experienced rejection, politics and hidden agendas, competition of what they term as “church growth” –
      In one church I stayed a few months in the USA. In another 2 years in India, BUT I CONTINUED [and continue to be FAITHFUL to the One who is FAITHFUL and TRUE]…NO-ONE, Greek Orthodox, Syrian orthodox or a Russian orthodoz can take or prevent me from following JESUS Christ my YESHUA the MESSAIH.
      But what about His body? He is the head and I must be in some way connected. I had the privilege of mentoring many and sowing the Good News seeds, but those who were given went to a church and left. Others were CARED like mentored they have stayed on in churches. SOme have settled down.
      Others do not go to churches because of prohibitions by their cultural religion.
      As I sought the Kingdom of God and lived the “imputed righteousness” of the King (Jesus) – he brought me a wife, there was not dating really, it was a divine gift. She came from a “Church denomination” of another country – before we married I made it clear if her “church” did not approve our union, – my wife did not get cowed down, it was directions from above. Rightly said, this “church” threw her out, her support was stopped [we live by faith]. Now 5 years have passed, and we have not starved, on the contrary we learn’t to depend upon God.
      But the “church?” Yes we worship in a mainline “protestant” denomination. I refused to sign a formal membership form, but the Elder – told us it did not matter, it is NOT a perfect assembly. In this course of 30 years of learning from Jesus, I have learn’t to accept things the way they are, keep a constant watch over my attitudes specially of judging others [I have this serious problem]. But have also learned that I am a sinner saved by grace, need to watch my attitudes, need to be an example, and continue to be faithful to Jesus. In the meanwhile, the Elder after knowing us without the formal membership gives us chores, sharing, teaching and equipping those who are in his denomination. The denomination’s local membership has increased, there is NO competition. LOVE is shown by real concern to each other. Perfect church? Far from it, there are wheat and tares. But we cannot know who is who, who is wheat and who is a tare. But fruit bearing is important, fruit I believe is reproducing yourself in others, just like Jesus reproduced Himself in the Twelve.
      And now? Often I felt like going elsewhere, BUT NO…He placed me here and here I will stay.
      I would like to encourage those who are hurting by various attitudes, BE ENCOURAGED….”Jesus said: I will build MY church” the Church is a Universal movement, the local church is an expression of the latter. Find yourself someone who will partner with you in prayer, study the FIRST SERMON of Peter (Acts CH 2) leave those denominationalists with their toys – REMAIN FAITHFUL TO JESUS daily spending time with Him. I imagine Him sitting at the RIGHT hand of the FATHER…and when Stephened was stoned He was STANDING. You too may get those “stones” remember during these times He will STAND Beside you! Maranatha!
      You may write to me if youwish…Bro Perry Marshall thank you for your ministry. Let’s press on…UNTIL HE RETURNS, let us look to the Perfect One – and run the race marked for us. Little time is left.
      Tino Nazare.
      Goa India.

  4. ahmed41 says:

    YES, I like the sentence : To be a follower of Jesus one doesn’t have to be a follower of those who “follow” Jesus.

  5. Wolfgang Noone says:

    Perry, thanks a lot for your statement – especially for that first part with your family history. I just told my wife, who’s bipolar herself, but under medication. She shook her head in disbelief, “How’s that possible, how could they…?” – I can imagine, but think that wouldn’t have been possible in Europe, even 80 years back, regardless of the question ‘Catholic, Anglican, Protestant, or Orthodox’.

    Because of he question ‘leaving the church or not’ I’d think one cannot answer it the same way in all cases, and surely not with ‘forgiveness’ only. These days I read the ‘Memorandum Kirche 2011’ undersigned by more than a third of the german catholic theology professors (and a lot of others said in private that they would have, but couldn’t because of personal reasons…) – in it they claim reforms of the church, primarily ‘what concerns all should be decided by all’, married, and female priests, and a solution of the case of homosexuals in the church. They’re fed up with the ‘one-way’ method – the pope tells the bishops, the bishops tell the priests, and the priests tell the people… I don’t know if any of them would leave the church, but it reminds me a bit of the situation after Vaticanum I in 1870, when a couple of cardinals and bishops left the church and founded the ‘Old Catholics’ because they couldn’t identify themselves with the infallibility dogma. So, paradoxically, the ‘old’ catholics are the most modern ones – they’ve got already what those theologians want…
    They have left, and their model was successful – at least for their members and sympathizers.

    () Wolfgang

  6. Robert Rhoades says:

    Thank you for including quotes of Anne Rice. So many times we hear the report that, “someone has left the faith”, but not exactly what they have said. I would hope that she would keep her faith in Jesus and one day find her place in His church. Thank you for sharing your story of a loving father (yours) who showed how to scripturally work through real life problems.
    I pray that God will continue to bless the ministry He has given you.
    Robert Rhoades

  7. Two people told their stories, many answered, some with advice, some judging, others sympathetic. Perry is able to live inside the church, Ann do not want to or is forced to live outside due to her personnal belief system, she gave reasons why, but somehow I think she kept the core reasons to herself, Perry told his story and his reason’s for forgiving and staying inside, reason’s which is acceptable, to me anyway, Perry is a group animal, and he knows the rules of this group, he is able to cope and live with it.
    Ann on the other side it seems is not a group animal, and can survive on the outside. Students of life usually tend to stay alone, it gives them more time to study, free of interference, they also tend to prefer to correspond via mail or e mail, they don’t like phones very much.

    Perhaps I should make clear if I believe or not, I do, but not like Perry, more like Ann, perhaps even different. I do not go to church, simply because the way I believe do not fit inside the church dogma. When I read the bible it tells me a story, a story about the origins of a nation and their religious ideas, and I understand that this nation wants the whole world to accept them as special because in their opinion their god is the ultimate God in the universe. Inside their bible in the new testament a man called Jesus refutes their claims, but most church going people do not see this, if this is pointed out to them the church leaders attack and chase the heritic who dared to ask very far away from church and as far as they possibly can from their “flock”! Perhaps Ann also found these statements by Jesus, and realized that the church are never going to accept it, perhaps that was her core reason for leaving.

  8. Hi, Perry, I haven’t been too active on your site because it really doesn’t apply much to me. I was also a PK and my father was a wonderful Episcopal priest. He was dimmed by diabetic depression at the age of 41 and died at my present age, 76.

    I was not interfered with religiously and was able to grow up as a seeker and remain within the Anglican fold – even though I am presently very annoyed at the obsession of my American church with Identity Politics, esp. of the gay/same sex marriage variety. I am ordained and still celebrate the Eucharist weekly at a local church in Oxford, UK.

    Most of your web congregation are Protestants and do not well
    understand that you cannot simply be a Christian ‘on your own.’ Community and liturgy are necessary. Buddha, Dharma, Sangha ! Symbols speak to the soul and the meagre Protestant
    rituals do not well convey and imprint the deeper symbols of the Christian Faith.

    I consider myself a Catholic although I am not much attracted to the Roman version. Nor do I idealize any of the principal
    Orthodox or Anglican versions of Catholicism. Seek and ye shall find – maybe! We have a lot of Jewish, Agnostic, Muslim
    and RC friends. We never dream of arguing one faith against another. God presents ‘his’ imaginal representations in different ways. What is central is compassion(read Karen Armstrong), respect for others, and feeding the soul.

    If anyone is remotely interested in any more of my opinions
    (I have lots of them), please repair to my website:
    haroldjaywilson.com/ where you will find them under ‘Stories’.

    All best, Perry, and God Bless for your patience with those
    who are hurting and for sharing your own story. Jay Wilson

  9. Paul Hoffman says:

    Perry,

    Well written response to the Anne Rice piece. I think you missed the distinction Anne was drawing between Faith and Religion. Clearly you see them as indistinct. That is your calling and that is where your inspiration, energy and goals are derived. It is where you will be most effective in bringing faith to others.

    And you make a good point that faith often entails seeing past differences of opinion, requires hard work and extraordinary acts of charity and forgiveness.

    Ms. Rice, on the other hand, doesn’t disagree with you about acts of Faith or the core of a Christian’s belief. It also must be assumed….. without judgment, that her years attempting to integrate with the Church were a genuine effort.

    Because of the author’s standing in the literary and media world, she may be more effective in bringing messages of Faith, Hope, Tolerance, Charity and Forgiveness through her own actions and exposure rather than if she were part of of a larger, structured and hierarchical organization.

  10. Doug Baer says:

    I first want to raise some question of leaving the church. My experience of organized churches has been, go to meetings get spiritually fed then have some coffee and go home and be just about the same as the secular world. The body of Christ in my opinion is ALL who belive in Christ and want to follow Him. This being said we should be out there among the non believers loving them, being hurt by them, forgiving them, serving them and showing them the Love of Chist. This is the only way world is going to know Jesus. If you are seeking people that are looking for an answer and are being bold of the message of the GOOD NEWS then you will seldomly have time to bicker with fellow body members. My church spends so much time in meetings that they don’t have time to FISH for men. Believe it or not, not all people seeking Christ or fullfillment are going to large Churches to find Him. Rather they need one on one relationships from christians so they can trust that someone cares about them. Maybe Ann Rice sees the church not being effective in that way and maybe she is seeking one on one relationships at a deeper level than what she experienced. The church is everywhere, it is all Gods believers. Outside of church I am shocked at how many believers don’t even know who belives around them because they are so quiet about ther belief that they can be setting beside a fellow child of Christ and not even know it. Get busy and visit the prisons, hospitals, retirement homes and get involved in trully loving ALL Gods children and you will find the REAL church!

  11. John Prewett says:

    Evidently you are currently oblivious to the meaning of Revelation chapters 17 & 18.

  12. Beautiful. Your earthly father would be proud. Your heavenly Father is pretty pleased too!

  13. I just have a short comment on those who leave the Church. I personally believe that we who have entered into a covenant with the Lord congregate because we all have a need for Jesus.

    We are no better than our brethren in many ways, yet we do not walk away from them if we leave, we turn out backs on a blood pact which has been fully paid for by our Lord.

    W.T.

  14. Greetings Perry,

    I read with interest your explanation of why we need to “stick with it” in regards to a church community, regardless of petty issues and disputations. Sadly I must disagree. I was a member of the Christian Community my whole life up to the age of 34 [I’m now 54] until I, like Anne Rice, decided “enough was enough.”

    I realized that “loving my brothers and sisters in faith” was completely different than indulging in CO-DEPENDENT behaviors! It’s funny, but sometimes it isn’t until you leave relationships and look back on them after a time that you see just how destructive they were to your sanity.

    The Christian Community was just that…co-dependent and destructive. As a result of my decision to leave organized religion, I have never been happier in my life, and never had a fuller understanding of the love of God and the brilliance of His Creation as I do now…apart from the theology, ritual, co-dependence, and subjugation to the pastor’s ideas of what the Bible means.

    And no, I am not “rebellious and combative”. I’ve been happily married for 38 years, and successful in my career. So I am not a malcontent. Quite the opposite in fact. And I have no problem with “authority”. I just had a problem with the cancer of co-dependence and convoluted theology which seems to have a stranglehold upon modern Western Protestant Christendom.

    I haven not regretted my decision to leave organized religion not even for a moment. And as the years go by, the wisdom of my decision grows ever more apparent. I now understand precisely what the Apostle John meant when he wrote the words of I John 2:27…”As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.”

    I encourage Christian people not to “fear” leaving Egypt behind. A Promised Land awaits them if they have the strength of faith to cross that Wilderness.

    Good luck and God Bless,
    Johnny C.

    • You are speaking out of my soul, brother!
      I have very similar experiences. Right now our family remains in the desert and we are not too happy about that, especially because of the kids who need believing peers but there is no way back to Egypt. Just waiting for the time for the Promised Land to come. But fimally free to breath on our own. With a pleasant surprise I’ve learned that I am not the only one deeply disappointed with the institutionalized church and that I can easily indentify myself with the movement called Emerging Church: //en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emerging_church
      I may be wrong but it seems to me that God is doing something on a larger scale, as if so many christians were tired of the sterile impotence of so many traditional churches that He is calling them back to forms of worship and ministry closer to those of the first church…

  15. Anne Rice: You will probably not beleive what I will tell here, but you will not loose any thing if you follow my advice. it will be a very interesting ntelectual experience at the least.

    You have been walking in the wrong paths that lead any where but conffussion. If you want to know a real good way look for a prominent person among the Opus Dei persons in your community or on a near one if you do not find one in yours. Explein to her (him) your doubts and listen to what they will tell you. I wish you the best of spititual direction. Jorge Casas.

  16. Jay Godse says:

    Interesting posting, both your story and Anne’s, because they illustrate a couple of heresies that infect Christian congregations.

    The first one is legalism and judgementalism. Jesus left clear instructions on judging and not judging people. He also proclaimed the “law” to be dead. Yet, over time, that is what too many congregations descend into. The Christian journey starts with an innocent quest to be closer to God. It too often morphs into a continuous comparison of “legal” or “righteous” conduct with other Christians. It often involves cherry-picking specific laws (but never all of them) from the Old Testament and then to use them to brow-beat their brethren into conformance and to judge and condemn for non-conformance. Most people leave religions because the burden of judgementalism and legalism is too high.

    The second problem is “Nicolaitanism”, which is where the church is divided into priests and ministers who lord it over the laymen. The book of Hebrews is pretty clear that there is no priesthood to intercede with God because Jesus is the only intercessor. i.e. There is no division of human church people between priests and laymen. Yet, that is exactly what churches do. Eventually the theology becomes so complex that the average person cannot understand it well enough to conform to it without guidance. Ministers and priests step in to define and interpret such things and start to get paid for it. Once people start making a living from being a minister, they will do many things to protect their cash flow such as increasing contributions and membership. The love of this money is the root of many evils in the church.

    Interestingly, these two problems are related. You start with the simple core of Jesus’ religion. Then you grow in faith and grace. (So far, so good). Then you want to measure growth in faith and grace. (Good desire, bad policy). Intellectually astute people offer to articulate and standardize behaviour which can be branded as “righteous” and therefore an indicator of faith. Often guidance is taken from the Old Covenant. (Not necessarily bad, but it brings “salvation by works” into the mix). Logically, behaviour which falls outside the standard list is “unrighteous”, and therefore should be avoided and its perpetrators should be shunned. The ones who articulated and standardized these behaviours are often the ones to interpret bad behaviour and therefore shunning. They eventually become the priests or ministers from this role. And the conquest of the lay people is now complete, because they have inserted themselves between the lay people and Jesus as proxies for defining righteousness, and forgiveness of sin. (Nicolaitanism: Nico=conquer; laitan=layman).

    Anne did the right thing by leaving her congregation. It’s not clear that she has forsaken living in a community or in long-term committed relationships. But it is clear that she is shunning legalism and judgementalism.

  17. Hi Perry,
    I’ve benefitted from your writing on Christianity as well as Adwords, etc. I also grew up in Nebraska and went to a large church. I’m a few years older than you, but wonder if we ran in the same circles at different times. Perhaps you could reply offline and we can find out.
    Best regards,
    Mike Flanagan

  18. I can relate to all that Ann Rice experienced, as I too experienced the same things. God pulled me out of the catholic church at the age of 14 and told me in 1996 that his church was corrupt, in that in lacked love, tolerance and obedience and I have to agree 100%. I have had a personal relationship with the Lord since 1972, and have experienced his holy presence many times, and received many miracles for standing firm in my faith, while still seeking Jesus Christ’s spiritual church; not the physical kind that thrives on ornamentation, and showy displays, but one that contains the fruit of the spirit. God is a God of Time, I’ve seen how Big he is in 1979 and I have learned though that it truly is all about trusting in him and waiting upon him, and he will see you through. Christ’s church is not one with walls but one that is spiritual. There are not that many and as Jesus put it, “his little flock”. I say to the little flock, “stand firm, wait upon Him, and he will lead you to the place where he wants you to be”. I pray continually for his little flock and the ones in the outer court, as they do not know the glory that they are missing out one, by choice. God breaks nobody’s choice. I choose to follow Him, not man.

  19. I have been having a problem concerning the Catholic Church.
    I was a Dominican Brother about fifty years ago. I left the order after two and a half years. This was my love, yet I could not accept certain theological answers. My mother who was Protestant was rejected as wrong in her beliefs in her religion
    which was the Church of Scotland. I had a real problem seeing the number of religious being accused of Pedophilia. The church
    wanted to sweep this under the rug. I researched my religion and found things that were simular. The Inquisiton, the vow of celebacy as a gift to God, when in fact it was imposed so that priests could leave their holdings to the church as opposed to their families. I still embrace silence and prayer.
    I still miss the monastic rules and set hours of prayer.
    I dislike those religious who put themselves above the people.
    Humility is a very difficult attribute to attain. I presently live in South America. I am not fluent in Spanish, yet I hope to Start a Church called the Old Catholic Church. I would welcome priests who left the church to marry to resume their priesthood as married priests. I would have them go out amongst the poor and minister to them. I would go back 1500 years in church history and do away with Canon Law, and other
    things that interfere with true belief, and acceptance of all people of all religions. In short as Jesus said ´´Come Follow me.´´

  20. Phillip Rogers says:

    Perry’s dad did the right thing by sticking it out. God used an unfortunate circumstance to teach some important lessons to 2,000 church members.
    Jesus describes his church(people) as his bride. So we are very important to him. Yes, people are judgmental and form cliques, but we follow Jesus and forgive those who wrong us.
    I admire Perry’s dad.

    Phillip

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