Today instead of spending time with family, I decided to spend my day in bed with Anne Rice. As much as I love to read, I have never read her books simply because vampires and the supernatural were against everything I was taught. I knew she was from New Orleans but little else about her.
The same friend who challenged me to learn about the faith I so believed in could not believe I had never read a book by her. As I was in Barnes and Noble, looking for the Cathecism of the Catholic Church, right there was a book by Anne Rice. Intrigued and astonished that it was in the Christian section, I picked it up to read the inside cover.
Today I read this book from cover to cover. The day could not have been spent any better. No family nor friend could have taught me what this book did and so beautifully on Thanksgiving Day.
I walked and cried with her and actually felt the exact same things she felt growing up as a Catholic. She, in a more stricter sense than I, because she is older and from a time when the teachings were less forgiving. She lived and breathed Jesus growing up.
I have to admire her for consciously denouncing God and her belief in him. I understood her reasonings for becoming athiest. Unlike people who claim to be Christian and slowly losing their faith, she made a conscious decision not to believe. That was powerful but what was more powerful was her unconscious return to Christianity and her Catholic faith.
All I can say is...wow. She is one remarkable woman and one that I so admire now. I am thankful!
Called Out Of Darkness:
A Spiritual Confession
By Anne RiceKnopf; 245 pp.
In 2002 Rice, the queen bat of vampire fiction, shed her fangs and began writing books (two so far) about the life of Jesus. This memoir is Rice's attempt to explain her return to Christianity, moving from the idyllic New Orleans of her 1940s childhood to the renunciation of her Catholic faith — indeed, of all faiths — during her student years and after in 1960s San Francisco. Rice's reminiscences about her ensuing atheist period and the success of her decidedly irreligious vampire novels are tinged with some sorrow; she moves earnestly on to the 90s, years in which, she says, a benevolent deity "hunted" her down until she gave in and accepted His divine love.
Highlight Reel:1. An epiphany beneath the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro: "Suddenly the clouds broke, revealing the giant figure of Jesus Christ above us, with His outstretched arms. The moment was beyond any rational description...I had come thousands of miles to stand here. And here was the Lord. The clouds quickly closed over the statue; then broke and revealed the statue again. How many times this happened I don't remember. I do remember a kind of delirium...I didn't acknowledge faith in these moments at the foot of the statue. But something greater than creedal formulation took hold of me, a sense that this Lord of Lords belonged to me in all his beauty and grandeur."
2. The fate of Lestat: "My hero, the Vampire Lestat, the genderless giant who lived in me, was always the voice of my soul in this novel [2002's Blackwood Farm] and it is no accident that he begins it with a cry of the heart, 'I want to be a saint, I want to save the souls of millions!' [But]by the end of the novel, confessing his failure ever to be anything but a rambunctious reprobate and Byronic sinner, he...resigned as the hero of the books which had given him life...This character who had been my dark search engine for twenty-seven years would never speak in the old framework again."
3. On her differences with contemporary Christian teaching: "Centuries ago the stars were sacred. A man could be burnt at the stake for declaring that the earth revolved around the sun...Now the Christian world holds the stars to be secular...Is it not possible for us to do with gender, sexuality and reproduction what was long ago done with the stars? To realize that...new sources of information on them may be as valid as the information given us long ago?"
4. A shocking childhood scene recounted only 13 pages before the book's end: "I was with a group of children...playing in the side yard of a house that had a basement and an open basement window. At one point we crowded to the edge...and looked down into the empty room. The room must have been over eight feet deep. Perhaps it was deeper. There was a little boy crouching next to me at the edge of the window, and I turned to him, and pushed him so that he fell all the way down to the basement floor. I did it for no other reason than to see what would happen. I did it because I felt it was an interesting thing to do. I will never forget all my life that little boy's scream as he fell...I mention it now because I think I knew evil and wrong in that moment."
The Lowdown:Called out of Darkness is catnip for devout Christians: Rice's conversion is disorganized enough to sound real, her eagerness to embrace confession and discipleship is inspiring, and her arguments in a passage on "Christmas Christianity" suggest Rice could rival C.S. Lewis as a popular apologist for the faith. For those more interested in learning about what shaped the author of the bestselling vampire sagas and volumes of sadomasochistic pornography (written under a pseudonym), the book is maddening. Rice drops dark hints of severe dyslexia, militant gender ambiguity, alcoholism and bipolarity, but retreats, giving little away. The startling childhood confession very late in the book suggests that had Rice aired her demons more fully, the tale of her defection to the angels would be that much more powerful.
The Verdict: Read