Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Not Completely "Out of Darkness"...

I recently finished Anne Rice's Called Out of Darkness, her spiritual memoir of a childhood swimming in Catholicism that transformed into an adult life as an atheist and that has professed belief once again, having returned to the faith.

I admire Ms. Rice's courage to write about her faith in Christ Jesus knowing that she would receive skeptical looks from friends and possibly fans of her 28 penned novels.

I appreciate any personal testimony that is given by a person who has rediscovered the faith and has returned "home" to the Church.

I found interesting her description of a childhood drenched in Catholic culture, education, and family life.

I give thanks to God that anyone, but especially someone so well-known, would be active in the faith and bear witness to God's grace at work in his/her life.

However, while Ms. Rice has been "called out of darkness" I wonder if she has completely or at least intellectually. In her memoir she readily admits her ignorance of how her Church works in this modern age. She does not try to hide or deny her ignorance about current Church issues or discussions. Her participation in the sacramental life of the Church and her active cultivation of a prayer life and love for Scripture are all commendable and heartening. But all of this seems to be done separate from the intellectual heritage of our faith.

So, as a fellow Catholic I would gently and kindly suggest she enroll in some sort of continued education about the faith and the Church. I would also recommend, though perhaps with more force, that her publisher hire a well-read and knowledgeable Catholic editor who could correct the seemingly numerous nonfactual statements present in the book and fill in the gaps that are left when Ms. Rice quotes from various catechisms, etc.

Recommend? Sure. It is uplifting to read a witness to God's grace at work in a person's heart. But, be careful not to expect a finessed account of theology or rationales for the Church's ways.


Fr. Stephen, C.S.C. said...

Michael - Even having recently mentioned this book favorably in a homily, I can agree whole-heartedly with what you say here. I think Rice has very much immersed herself in the Church's vast resources on Scripture scholarship - but she has not done the same "homework" for other areas of the Church's life and mission. Hopefully she will. In the meanwhile, I think this book serves as a resource for people, like her, who are moving from a life of atheism toward a personal encounter with the loving God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ.

Fr. Michael Wurtz, CSC said...

I agree with your assessment, Koeth, and I suppose that if I had to name my strongest concern, it is the fear I have for those non-Catholics who pick up this book and do not receive a more nuanced and "smart" description of the Church and her life. But all in all, better to have a "confessional" type memoir than not at all.