Today I quit being a Christian. I’m out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being “Christian” or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to “belong” to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I’ve tried. I’ve failed. I’m an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else. … I’m out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
So … let’s ignore the unfortunately clarion pretentiousness of her “I’m an outsider,” “My conscience will allow nothing else,” and that awful “Amen.”
Let’s also ignore that “I’ve quit being a Christian, because I’m too committed to Christ” is a waffle so huge it’d give Mrs. Butterworth a coronary.
And let’s definitely ignore that her entire statement is based on the assumption that being a Christian and being anti-gay, anti-women, anti-science, etc., are virtually inseparable. It’s like saying, “I renounce my American citizenship, because every American is an insufferable jerk!” Well, sure, some are. But what about those who aren’t?
Finally, let’s ignore that this statement couldn’t be more perfectly timed to coincide with a novel Ms. Rice has coming out in November, “Of Love and Evil,” the second in her “Songs of the Seraphim” series. It’s too cynical to wonder if she chose this moment to publicly renounce Christianity because she knew perfectly well it would bring her exactly the kind of media attention it has.
So. If we remove from Rice’s statement its pretentiousness, prevarication, illogicalness, and (possibly!) shameless opportunism, is there anything left worthy of our attention?
There is for me; and it’s that I, too, have grown wary, and weary, of calling myself a Christian. The word simply connotes too much that doesn’t describe me or what I believe. In a lot of ways, calling myself a Christian makes me feel like a Jew who’s gone into some crazy universe where he has to identify himself as a Nazi. Right after the last time I wrote in one of my blog posts the simple sentence, “I am a Christian,” my fingers hovered still over the keyboard for a long time. I thought of how to modify that articulation, how to change it, work around it. I thought of deleting it.
But in the end I left it. Because … well, fuck ‘em. (Those of you who read my recent “Just Married” will recognize the official Shore family motto.) From the moment of my conversion, I have written and said, “I’m a Christian,” because I refuse to cede that term to those whom I feel are perverting and ruining it. I’m too ornery not to call myself a Christian.
My conscience (whaddaya know!) will allow nothing else.