Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Anne Rice, Catholicism, and Dave Armstrong's Defense

Is Anne just a marketing genius, or has senility set in. And yet the juxtaposition of vampires and Catholicism has some intriguing and "novel" possibilities.

Last week when the news broke about Anne Rice "leaving Christianity but still embracing Christ," I wrote that I thought someone had hijacked her Facebook blog. We had enjoyed all three of her post-vampire Christian books and I had read some of her vampire fare. And the announcement and other words attributed to her do not sound rationale.

For you that don't know, Anne Rice is the popular author of "The Vampire Chronicles," and other such books from which several successful motion pictures have been made. She's a master at marketing as much as writing, with a personal staff larger than her publisher employs on her behalf.

A few years back she returned to the Catholicism of her youth. Her re-conversion made headlines in both vampire and Catholic/Christian circles. After her re-conversion she swore off writing vampire novels although she still justified their promotion because they honestly chronicled her journey in the dark looking for the light. Indeed her later vampire stories are about her vampire protagonists searching for redemption, something they cannot find by virtue of the story genre to live eternally as the damned. They are cursed monsters needing salvation. Viewed from that perspective there's value in Anne's books that came out of her period of atheism.


The juxtaposition of Catholicism and vampire lore has some intriguing story potential. I've been involved as a consultant on a movie project that examines the "origin" and eventual redemption of vampires one step further than Ms. Rice's effort. The movie effort attempts to correlate the vampire's thirst for blood with the Christian's thirst for Christ's real presence in the blood of The Eucharist. The image of a vampire drinking human blood in search for life -- juxtaposed with a Catholic drinking Christ's redemed blood in Mass seeking eternal life, is poignant to say the least.  In John 6:53-56 we have these shocking words of Christ:
Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him. (Jesus)
So shocking was this teaching that many of Christ's followers left never to follow Him again (John 6:66). Historians suggest that Jewish law which forbade eating meat  that was bloody, was the reason so many found this teaching repulsive.

It's not without purpose that Vampires (human blood suckers) and Zombies (human flesh eaters) are the two most popular horror genre in film. There are a lot of confused Catholics out there looking for meaning to the ritual of the Mass. Catholic teachers have done a poor job explaining it so it's up to filmmakers, I guess.  

Allow this sidetrack to continue for another paragraph. Jon Springer is the Catholic horror filmmaker form St. Paul, MN. Back in 2003 he produced a short B&W film called LIVING DEAD GIRL. The film begins with the typical zombies going crazy, biting people, and turning them into the living dead, walking around town looking for another human to bit and spread the curse. But then, this particular zombie girl comes upon a strange man standing on the street corner. It's Jesus. She attacks, taking a bite out of his arm. She, rather than He, falls to the ground. And a moment later she's resurrected as back to normal, healthy human, again. The message is clear. Society, in general, is like the living dead. But when we take a bite of Christ, and make him (literally) part of our life, we find life. It is Christ's flesh and blood that gives life.


Anne followed her re-conversion by three wonderful Christian books. "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt" was her first person telling of 7-year old Jesus' trip with his family from Egypt back to Roman occupied Galilee. "Christ the Lord: Road to Cana" was the first person telling of 32-year old Jesus' beginning of his public ministry.  Both are great reads, I recommend them, highly. During this time Anne also wrote a personal book about her childhood as a Catholic youth in New Orleans, her lapse into atheism with famous husband and intellectual Stan Rice, and then her reconversion to Catholicism. It's titled "Called Out of Darkness". The book is most valuable for her description of Catholicism through the eyes of a young girl in romantic and mystical New Orleans.

Then, suddenly it seemed, a week ago, Anne announced that she's given up Christianity and the Catholic Church... but she still loves Jesus Christ. (Huh!?)

Her reasons were the typically, trite, irrational tripe about being fed up with hypocrites and transferring their misguided comments and lifestyles on the whole of Christian thought and philosophy.  Or, in her case, misunderstanding Church teaching about loving sinful persons at all costs but hating the sins that such persons commit. Anne's son is a gay homosexual author. And as she should, she loves her son. But she can't seem to separate the sin of humankind from the teachings of Christ and his Church. Or, as Dr. Ray Guarendi says in his popular DVD, WHY BE CATHOLIC? the scariest religious position today is not the atheist, or new age, or other fringe groups, but the mainstream Christian who says, "I love God, and he's just like me."

Now, this is a "smart" woman, or so I thought. Well, upon her "anti-Christianity" announcement (or "deconversion") , the blogosphere was awash with stories, praise, condemnations, Monday quarterbacking, and debate about this "turn of events". Especially of interest is the strange and irrational reasons this celebrated author gives for rejecting Christianity but still embracing Christ. Frankly, I still think her Facebook page has been hijacked (because I expect more intelligence from her), but evidently she appeared on The Joy Behar Show in person to discuss this whole thing. (Joy Behar... makes "sense.")


Dave Armstrong (and wife, Judy), is a friend(s) and author of a number of fine books on Catholic apologetics that I sell on Nineveh's Crossing, and one I'm editing for publication. Dave was not familiar with Anne Rice, but he caught wind of her "reasons" for "leaving Christianity" and... well, Dave can't turn down an easy Internet post when Catholicism can be defended. (It'll be a chapter in a future book of his, no doubt.) His website was perhaps the first Catholic apologetic website in the world (goes back to the mid-1990s), and he's making a writing career out of the fodder. Dave's writing is thoroughly organized,  accessible, smart, and relevant. I've hired him several times to write material for Nineveh's Crossing (our study guides all have his touch).

So, Dave did his usual thorough job at refuting the several irrational arguments against Christianity and Catholicism that Anne takes, and posted a thorough defense of Catholicism and Christianity on his blog. . You can read his initial blog entry in a post titled: The Deconversion of Novelist Anne Rice: Straw Men, "Baby/Bathwater" Mentality, Sexual Liberalism, and an Irrational Held, Apologetics-Free Faith   LINK HERE

Then the drama sets in. Anne reads Dave's post, or part of it, and writes on her Facebook blog:
Here's a rather critical, and well written discussion of my leaving organized religion for Christ. 
And then she gives a link to Dave's post (as I have give you above)

Within 24 hours Dave is besieged by comments (pro and con) on his blog,  as is Anne on her Facebook page. Dave has posted some of the comments at his post: Anne Rice's Facebook Followers Irrationally and Intolerantly Attack Yours Truly for Criticizing the Lack of Adequate Reasoning for Her Deconversion.   LINK HERE

All of this I'm very happy about... for Dave and for Catholicism. There's nothing like controversy to get people thinking or talking about what is true.

And there's nothing like Dave's very clear, easy to read defense of the faith. I can only hope that Anne (and thousands of others) take Dave's arguments to heart, and perhaps read a few of his books. All of which are on sale (15% off) at Nineveh's Crossing, naturally. HERE: 

Best to all of you.


1 comment:

  1. She needs to move out of the 3rd story of her house. It seems the altitude has gotten to her. What a shame!!!!!!!!!!