Anne Rice: Moderate & Liberal Christianity

I highly respect Anne Rice for being so open about her views. I think people, no matter what their beliefs or change of beliefs, should always be honest.

I was raised as a liberal Christian and so I appreciate liberal Christians like Anne Rice standing up for moderation and humility. Too many religious people act like they have the answer for everything. There is nothing that irritates me more than a fundamentalist who defends their dogma through intellectual dishonesty and/or righteous arrogance.

Just imagine if all the religious liberals and religious moderates of the world (whether Christian, Muslim or whatever) stood up and made themselves heard. I suspect that most religious people are moderate on most issues and my sense is that the numbers of religious liberals is larger than one would guess from watching the mainstream media. The religious fundamentalists and extremists are very loud and very active. They dominate the political narrative about moral and cultural issues. Through evangelism and political organization, they have immense influence. Just consider how the Mormon church influenced (through illegal donations) public opinion about Prop 8 and contributed in no small part to its originally having been passed into law. When liberal and moderate Christians do speak up about civil rights and the public good, about caring for the poor and helping the needy, rightwing leaders such as Glenn Beck attack them.

Anne Rice is the biggest name that has come up in criticism of religious fundamentalism from the perspective of religious moderation and humility. I hope her example will help others to also speak up. I’d love to see someone like Michael Moore make a movie about Christianity in America and it’s relationship to progressivism and the civil rights movement. Few people realize that Moore is not only a Christian but is specifically inspired by Jesus Christ in doing his work as a documentarian and activist. Because liberals are so moderate and humble in their religiosity, they tend to believe religion should be kept as a personal issue. That is a generally good attitude, but I think it’s time to shake off some of that humility and demonstrate that liberal religiosity isn’t something to be hidden.

I’m not religious myself these days. I can’t say I’m fighting for my own conception of true Christianity. I really don’t care what others believe Christianity to be. I’m just tired of the overt politicization of Christianity by the religious right. Going by the polls, the younger generations are also tired of this religious politicization. The liberals and moderates shouldn’t become like the rightwingers in their challenging the politicization of the rightwingers. Unlike what some rightwingers believe, this isn’t a fight where only one version of Christianity can become victorious. I just want all voices to be heard so that there can be sincere discussion about issues that are very important.

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 * Note: I don’t mean to imply that all conservatives are fundamentalist extremists and far rightwingers. In using the term “moderate”, I’m also including moderate conservatives. I’m actually arguing that most people who identify as conservative probably are moderate. To illustrate this, polls show that more Americans identify as conservative than liberal, but if you ask about specific issues most Americans lean towards liberal/progressive views.

Religious Scholars and Horror Writers

Religious Scholars and Horror Writers

Posted on Dec 23rd, 2008 by Marmalade : Gaia Explorer Marmalade
This relates to the connection between Gnosticism and the Gothic.  Many Horror writers study religion and spirituality.  Some even practice it or are members of churches.  Some horror writers go so far as giving up their horror for religion… such as Anne Rice’s conversion.  Most Christian horror writers find a middle-ground because Christian theology gives plenty of space for the horrific… especially Catholicism.

A Biblical scholar I enjoy is Robert M. Price.  He is very well respected as a Biblical scholar, but he is also an expert on Lovecraft and writes horror himself.  Not surprisingly, he is very knowledgeable about Gnosticism.

Some other examples I’ve heard of:  Russell Kirk wrote ghost stories, but he was more famous for his influential political theories.  Charles Williams is best known for his horror novels (or supernatural thrillers as  T.S. Eliot described them), but he also wrote widely on many nonfiction subjects.

Thomas Ligotti and Quentin S. Crisp have both been highly influenced by religion and spirituality.  They’ve both studied diverse topics, but I do know that they were highly attracted to Buddhism.   As far as I understand, both had done spiritual practices such as meditation and so their interests aren’t merely in the abstract.

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Marmalade : Gaia Child

about 1 hour later

Marmalade said

Thinking about it, Catholocism and Buddhism are good religions for horror writers. Catholocism obsesses about original sin, evil, and demons. Buddhism has strong tendencies towards world-denial in their idealization of non-being and I’ve heard that they traditionallyhave rituals for funerals but not for weddings.

Marmalade : Gaia Explorer

about 9 hours later

Marmalade said

There is another connection between the Horror genre and the traditional world religions. Both are a bit wary of sexuality and often don’t portray it in the most positive light. I won’t generalize too much about horror and sexuality, but I will say that it seems common for people (especially sexually attractive girls)to bekilled in horror movies after making out. And then there are dark writers such as Kafka where sexuality is almost entirely absent.

I don’t feel up to speculating why this connection exists. I do know that Crisp and Ligotti have spoken disparaging about sex (and procreation)on more than one occasion. In fact, Ligotti has written a lengthy treatise that revolves around this and relatedsubjects. Ligotti is more articulate in his philosophizing, butone of the more amusing quotes about sex is from Crisp (in an interview with Martin Roberts):

“…I am interested in the erotic potential of sexual unfulfillment.”

I enjoy Crisp’s self-deprecating humor. If you can’t laugh at yourself, then who can you laugh at.