29 November 2008

Vampire Queen to Catholic (again)

Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession, Anne Rice.

It's old news now. Anne Rice--vampire queen, Goth diva, gay icon--has returned to Mother Church. Her book, Called Out of Darkness, chronicles her journey back to the Church after years of wandering low and lower in the wastes of atheism, radical politics, neo-pagan fantasy, and the blackness forest of all--grief.

I won't spoil the book by answering the Big Question--what happened to bring her back? I will tell you how God lured her back. He used the author's sacramental imagination. He used the stuff of creation and the art of His greatest love, man, to seduce our vampire queen back into the fold.

Rice goes into some detail when describing how the last few occult books lingered in her mind as pseudo-Christian tales of redemption. But the spark that lit the fire of the Holy Spirit in her was that human faculty that Augustine and Aquinas argue is vital to art: memory. She remembered her Catholic upbringing. She remembered the sisters. Her high school. The Mass before the Council. She remembered the Baltimore Catechism, the devotionals, the sacramentals, and all the things whose absence now left her without anchor or bearing.

She came back and now professes a love for Christ. And here's where things get muddled for our goth diva. She comes back to the Church but not to the fullness of the faith. She comes back to her pre-Vatican Two Catholic cultural identity but not to the difficult parts of being a Catholic. She embraces confession, the Mass, the Holy Father. She embraces all those parts of being Catholic that make being Catholic something special in the eyes of the world. What she has not embraced quite yet are those parts of the Catholic faith that the make us look like Old World peasants in the eyes of our WASPY neighbors: opposition to abortion, same-sex marriage, all male priesthood, etc. If one wanted to be cynical, one might point out that our vampire queen has embraced just enough of the Catholic faith to seem weird among her NYC cocktail party friends but not enough to get her booted off the circuit list as an intolerant right-wing freak. That would be cynical.

Here's what I'm very happy about: Anne Rice has returned to the Church. Like any of us she will likely spend some time figuring out how to embrace the Whole Truth of the Faith without losing herself in a bizarre kind of Romish fundamentalism. I think this book is the very first step among many steps she will make to come to the fullness of the faith.

I will recommend the book as a great boost for anyone whose faith in God's Self-revelation in His creation is lagging. To anyone who needs to hear that someone from the Bad Ole Days before the Glorious Revolution of 1965 has been saved from the wreck that their generation has made of the Church since 1965. The book is very readable, chatty almost, beautiful in places, and even prayerful. We can't overlook Rice's reluctance to embrace the fullness of the Church's moral teachings, but we can rejoice that now that she's one of us again, she has a much better chance of finding that oh-so-narrow, oh-so-long road to holiness.

6 comments:

  1. I haven't yet read this book. Anne Rice has given a series of interviews about her reversion, all of which are very interesting. They are available on YouTube. In fact, one can trace a thread of this lingering fascination with Christ and with human redemption bubbling and churning somewhere inside of her when reading some of her vampire novels. She herself points this out many times.

    While she regrettably professes her continued support for the Democratic party and Obama, she seems to make clear that she desires to be pro-life, even if one doesn't quite get just how pro-life she is at this point. Like all of us, she is a work in progress, and her determination to write only for Christ is laudable.

    Her love for her son, a gay activist, also presents challenges to her, which she also seems very open about. So I agree with you; She is clearly struggling with the truths of the faith, not rejecting them outright. Her current writing, more than anything else, appears to be helping her.

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  2. Anonymous6:33 PM

    Father,

    Ms. Rice apparently spells her first name as "Anne' and not "Ann". At least that is what her web site seems to indicate:

    http://www.annerice.com/

    Ms. Rice still maintains links to her "vampire" past:

    http://www.vampirelestatfanclub.com/

    In the same fashion there are links to EWTN on her web site.

    Ms. Rice is an interesting lady of contradictions. One can only wish her well in her pursuit of the Faith.

    Paul Primavera

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  3. Paul,

    Thank you for pointing out the spelling error.

    I don't think she will ever fully surrender the vampire stuff.

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  4. I can also recommend the book, but you point out exactly what is missing from a fuller conversion to the faith.

    I pointed out some of these things in my review and was surprised that she linked to my review on her site.

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  5. Flambeaux4:04 PM

    I will note that what she has embraced, and continues to reject, is wholly consonant with the Faith as preached by the Jesuits and laymen who were responsible for my formation.

    That it is deracinated from the fullness of the Deposit of the Faith has, I think, less to do with a particular wilfullness on her part than malformation by those pastors of souls charged with her care.

    I knew her once, many years ago, and her son and I moved in close proximal orbits during adolescence.

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  6. " The book is very readable, chatty almost, beautiful in places, and even prayerful."

    in other words the girl can still WRITE! :-)

    I've not read any of her work since I got tired of vampires about halfway through Lestat.. I didn't know she had returned to Catholicism either. glad to hear it. We all must find places for ourselves and our pasts in our future........I wish her luck. maybe I'll pick up her book sometime soon.

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