Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Anne Rice: Still Clinging to Christ

At first I was (naively and mistakenly, as it turns out) impressed with Anne Rice's decision to "leave Christianity."

But from the moment she announced her faux apostasy, Rice has continued to loudly and monotonously defend both the founder of the Christian religion and the "sacred" writings of that religion, while condemning the religion itself, in its modern form, as a "deservedly infamous group."

Those who claim that Christianity was originally a wonderful religion of brotherly love and simple morality have never seriously studied the New Testament itself, at least not with anything approaching a critical eye. The Gospels tell us that Jesus preached intolerance for all other points of view, and encouraged his own followers to treat others contemptuously unless they meekly submitted to Jesus' teachings. Jesus explicitly pronounces that all those who refuse to follow him are condemned to Hell.

And it was Jesus himself who taught, "By their fruits shall ye know them." Therefore there is no justification for judging Jesus separately from the "fruits" of his teachings, namely, "this thing called Christianity", as Thomas Paine put it so eloquently.

If anyone wishes to get up to speed on the reality of Christianity, including the truth about it's founder, here are some suggestions for further study:

Intolerance and the Gospel: Selected Texts from the New Testament
by Gerd Luedemann
Contemporary Christians usually suppose that Christianity is quite congenial to the democratic ideals that are the basis of free, open Western societies. Among these ideals is freedom of religion, which encourages a broad tolerance for different belief systems. Nonetheless, a careful examination of core Christian beliefs and the history of Christianity reveal little tolerance for thinking or acting outside the orthodox Christian tradition.
[Amazon blurb]

The Price of Monotheism
by Jan Assmann
There are two kinds of religion. First there are those "primary" religions that spontaneously arise as a natural expression of the intrinsic spiritual urges of homo religiosus. These religions are polytheistic, tolerant, and ubiquitous throughout human history.

Then there are secondary religions. These arise first and foremost as a rejection of primary religion. "For these religions, and for these religions alone, the truth to be proclaimed comes with an enemy to be fought." That is how Jan Assmann describes these "counterreligions".

[blurb de moi]

There is no crime for those who have Christ
by Michael Gaddis
"There is no crime for those who have Christ," claimed a fifth-century zealot, neatly expressing the belief of religious extremists that righteous zeal for God trumps worldly law. This book provides an in-depth and penetrating look at religious violence and the attitudes that drove it in the Christian Roman Empire of the fourth and fifth centuries, a unique period shaped by the marriage of Christian ideology and Roman imperial power. Drawing together materials spanning a wide chronological and geographical range, Gaddis asks what religious conflict meant to those involved, both perpetrators and victims, and how violence was experienced, represented, justified, or contested. His innovative analysis reveals how various groups employed the language of religious violence to construct their own identities, to undermine the legitimacy of their rivals, and to advance themselves in the competitive and high-stakes process of Christianizing the Roman Empire.
[Amazon blurb]

Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries
by Ramsay MacMullen
Persecution: describing the determination of the Christian leadership to extirpate all religious alternatives, expressed in the silencing of pagan sources and, beyond that, in the suppression of pagan acts and practices, with increasing harshness and machinery of enforcement.
[chapter description from the book]