Skip to main content

Called Out of Darkness

I just finished a splendid book, Anne Rice's "spiritual confession." This is one of those utterly beautiful spiritual works that brings me to tears at points. Rice grasps the heart of Christianity.

I have about twenty strips of paper sticking out of the book where I marked meaningful passages. The chapters are arranged thematically, and as a memoir this book is reminiscent of Eudora Welty's One Writer's Beginnings. Here are some themes I found particularly interesting.

Rice sees beauty and art as redemptive. She firmly identifies herself as an artist, as someone who lives a certain way and pursues certain goals out of a belief in beauty and creativity. My favorite description in the book reflects this.

My father listening to the opera on Saturday afternoons was a delightful part of our world. He would sit at a table in the back bedroom working on his woodcarvings, and the sounds of the opera would fill the house. I loved the voice of Milton Cross, who always read a synopsis of the action before each act, with great and elegant expression. And I associate all of this with sheer happiness, with the breezes flowing through the open windows, even with the rain falling, with the windows filled with the green of the surrounding trees.

Her take on gender is wonderful. I don't think I agree with everything she says, but her perspective is freeing and helps to explain some of the struggles I have experienced as a thinking Christian woman. She calls her mind "genderless and oversensuous," meaning that the part of her personality that reasons and feels (and for an artist, these two always become intermingled) is not masculine or feminine. It is simply herself.

Knowledge is another theme. She became an atheist because Catholicism stopped making sense to her. Her moment of return to Christianity was when she realized that even though she couldn't understand everything, Jesus could.

This is really a love story about how God's love - "the world around me was filled to the brim with God" - became inescapable to her, and she found herself loving Him even though she was a professed atheist, and now she wants to love others as much as Christ loves her. Her Christianity is entirely relational. Even though she doesn't agree with major Roman Catholic doctrines, she submits herself to the church out of love for Christ. So be forewarned - you may read this and be unable to see past your doctrinal disagreements with Rice. If so, you're missing out.

In fact, on that note, I'd like to end with this quirky statement: "The more I study the New Testament, the more I see the contradictions enshrined within it. But I see something else there too. We have been a quarreling religion from the beginning, born out of an earlier quarreling religion - Judaism - and in a sense the New Testament enshrines us as such very clearly, with no easy solution as to how we handle our quarrels or the contradictory passages except that we must love!"

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

How to Waste Time When You Could Be Watching a Zombie Movie

Today I read one of those horrible articles that the internet seems to have been designed for, consisting of 40 tips for becoming as successful as the author: "How to Live a Full Life (and Leave Nothing on the Table) by 30." Yes, that's really the title. Normally I wouldn't publish a blog post in response, but because I managed to Come Down with a Chronic Illness (and Achieve Basically Nothing Else) by 30 and Am Currently Feeling the Aftereffects of One of the Treatments I Periodically Take, Which Causes Me to Feel High and Lose My Inhibitions, I'm just going to go for it. (Author's point #33: "Seriously, You Can Do Whatever You Want." Why thank you, young man, I think I will!)

The author's name is Ryan Holiday, and he has published several books. It sounds like he is also very wealthy, because note point #15, "Sooner Is Not Better," where he says he had a weird goal of becoming a millionaire by 25, but it didn't happen until after

Lyme Recovery, Seven Years In

When I first got my Lyme diagnosis, I went to the library and borrowed all the books on Lyme disease I could find (there were only three, if I recall correctly). One book was the personal account of a woman whose undiagnosed Lyme crossed her placenta and infected her unborn son, who later died in childhood after horrific symptoms. That book and a second featured images of magnified ticks, and I would peek through the pages taking care not to accidentally touch the photographs. I realized I might never have children. I returned the books to the library.

The third book was Biography of a Germ by Arno Karlen, a scientific essay on the Lyme spirochete. I didn't finish it because I took it back to the library as part of my stop-scaring-myself-silly dragnet. But I remembered it fondly. The author methodically explored the Lyme bacteria, Borrelia burdorferi, as an organism in its own right, a marvel of evolutionary survival that relies on a complex chain of ticks, small ani…

Waking Up Is Hard to Do

Ever since I was six or so, I have battled alarm clocks. They've jolted me awake. I've turned them off. I've hit snooze. I've gone back to sleep. I've tried to awaken myself gently with the classical music station or Aaron Copland CDs. No matter what, I can't get out of bed when the alarm says I should.

When I was a child, my father and I would race after the school bus. As an adult, I was chronically late for work. I'm not a morning person. I don't sleep well and rarely feel rested. Lymies don't feel well in the mornings anyway, and it didn't help that I'm easily startled and was being shocked awake each day with the equivalent of those paddles they use on heart attack victims. All morning I'd feel groggy and queasy and antsy, with adrenaline pumping through me.

A couple years ago I got sick and had to stay home from work for a few days. When I was ready to get back to the office, I took it easy for a few alarm-clock-free mornings while…