Jesus the Vampire Slayer

9780307268273.jpgThe inside flap promised “the confessions of a vampire. Hypnotic, shocking, and chillingly erotic… mesmerizing beauty and astonishing force–a story of danger and flight, of love and loss, of suspense and resolution, and of the extraordinary power of the senses.”  With Interview with a Vampire, Anne Rice created a worldwide fascination with the myth of the vampire.

Now with Called Out of Darkness, Anne Rice confesses her spiritual deliverance from the world of the Enemy into the Kingdom of God. It is hypnotic, shocking only to non-Christians, a chronicle of mesmerizing beauty of the astonishing force of a breakthrough of the Kingdom of God. It is the author’s personal story of danger and return, of love and redemption, of suspense and reconciliation, and of the extraordinary power of God.

The first part of the book recounts her lovely and magical archetypal Catholic childhood in New Orleans. Trouble arrives,however, as it does for many Christians, when she heads off to college, “filled with a sense of personal power. I could become a great writer. And we had a multitude of great Catholic writers. Their books had been all over our house as I grew up. Yet within a short time, it was the modern world – wanting to know the great incidents and heroes and heroines of the world – more than sexuality – that eventually caused me to leave the church.” (112-113)

“There was also much talk in my late childhood of people ‘reading themselves out of the church.’ If you asked too much, read too much, questioned too much, you* would wind up outside the church and it would be your own damned fault. I took that to heart, as I took everything I’d been taught as a Catholic. But I was hungry for knowledge, hungry for information, hungry for facts…I was around students who knew much more of contemporary literature than I did, and who discussed subjects I’d never thought to discuss. They were hungry for learning, and there was no barrier to their learning. And they were good and wholesome people…My faith began to crack apart.” (120-121)

Collegiate Anne sought the counsel of a priest. But the encounter only furthered her alienation from the church. He “hit upon something which I couldn’t abide – the idea that my upbringing condemned me to be a Catholic forever, no matter what my heart and conscience told me was true.” (123)

She began to see the church and her faith in a new light, the “light” emanating from the Present Evil Age: “The church had become for me anti-art and anti-mind. No longer was there a blending of the aesthetic and the religious as there had been throughout my childhood.” (124)

While Ms. Rice sought help from a priest, she never went directly to God for help:

“I think I can safely say I never put my dilemma before God. I never knelt down before Him and said, ‘Please help me with this.’ I failed to perceive Him as a source of creative solutions to one’s personal problems. I failed to see Him as a Person of Infinite Compassion. My religious mind was an authoritarian mind, and once I found myself at odds with God, I couldn’t speak to Him. I couldn’t question Him. Instead I made decisions about Him. And they amounted to rejection of His existence, and a determination to face the world with a new courage which seemed right.” (125)

In retrospect, Ms. Rice now sees her eventual interest in vampires as “an obvious lament for my lost faith. The vampires roam in a world without God; and Louis, the heartbroken hero, searches for a meaningful context in vain.” She notes that in all of her books, “creatures shut out of life, doomed to marginality or darkness, seek for lives of value, even when the world tells them they cannot have such lives…I poured out the darkness and despair of an atheist struggling to establish bonds and hopes in a godless world where anything miught happen, and could, happen, where happiness could be torn away from one in an instant, a world in which the condemned and the despised raised their voices in protest and song.” ((138-140)

So how did the Kingdom of God eventually break  down  the bleak, dark world of Anne Rice and her vampire heroes?

It seems God did it in three phases.

First, Anne’s father, a former Catholic seminarian, brought her into contact with her “lost” Catholic family when she and her own family moved back to New Orleans in 1988:

“To my amazement, these churchgoing people completely embraced Stan and Christopher and me. They didn’t question my disconnection from Catholicism. They said nothing about the transgressive books I’d written. They simply wel¬comed us into their homes and into their arms… They had found a way to live faithfully with absolutes, and above all they had found a way to continue day in and day out believing in God…When my great-aunt, Sister Mary Liguori, died, my eleven-year-old son, Christopher, was a pallbearer at her funeral. We stood with all the other Catholic mourners, and from memory, I followed the prayers. Of course I believed that I could never really be one of these people again. I couldn’t believe in God! But the simple fact was: I did. The world of atheism was cracking apart for me…
I was losing my faith in the nonexistence of God. (153-155)

Second, a startling series of coincidences during trips to Israel and Brazil convinced Ms. Rice that she was “being pursued by the Lord. I did not think literally ‘He is pursuing me.’ After all, He wasn’t supposed to exist. He was supposed to be an idea. He was ‘located’ in nostalgia. I thought something is pursuing me. Something is happening.” (168)

The feeling that something beyond her control was  happening to her caused “a storm in my heart and soul.” Then one afternoon she confronted her aptly named son, Christopher, on the staircase and demanded, “Do you believe in God?”

“Here was a young man not yet twenty, brought up to believe in nothing, and in that time of life when beliefs are I most easily dismissed. And Christopher, after a moment’s reflection, responded, “Yes, I believe in God.”

How could that have happened? How could our free-thinking son believe in God?” (174)

Anne Rice began to believe she was blinded day in and day out by “an inexplicable light.” Her mind became the “private feverish sound” of God talk. She even came to believe that she was “Christ haunted.” She started to read St. Augustine, a kindred soul. In December of 1998 she went to Mass and Holy Communion: “Received Our Lord into my body and heart for the first time in thirty-eight years.” (176-178)

Finally, exactly one week later, the third attack of the Holy Spirit arrived on the back of a massive diabetic coma. Ms. Rice was rushed to a hospital with her blood sugar count over 800 and her heart not beating. Her fledgling faith kept her alive.

She calls entering the Kingdom of God “a transcendent moment when one senses with all one’s faculties that the love of God is the air we breathe.”

Yet she was full of questions to answer and situations to resolve:

“How was I going to go back to a religion that my sophisticated friends despised and denigrated, that some of the finer minds I’d known regarded with blatant contempt? How was I to be a card carrying member of a church that condemned my gay son?” (185)

And God had a message for Ms. Rice: Write for God. Write for Him. Write only for Him.

When a new member enters God’s Kingdom, The Enemy strikes to kill the new faith. Anne Rice was no exception. Within weeks of her decision to write only for the Lord, her husband of 41 years was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He was dead in four and one-half months.

In the years which followed Ms. Rice’s faith grew along with her understanding of her faith amid a world of controversies:

“If one becomes too involved with doctrinal arguments and sexual and gender controversies, one can be alienated from the Lord. And I can’t allow that to happen.”

Neither can anyone who seeks first the Kingdom of Heaven.

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