Anne Rice, author of twenty-eight books, including Interview with a Vampire, has had a conversion.
In her new spiritual memoir, Called Out of Darkness, she writes of being born Catholic and growing up immersed in a Catholic Community in New Orleans. She writes of her fond and rich memories of the beauty of the churches and schools and neighborhoods where she came of age. When she got to college, however, a series of troublesome episodes led to a total abandonment of her faith, and the beginning of her life as an atheist. It wasn’t until 1998 that she began turning back to the faith and the God who she believed was in pursuit of her.
Since her conversion, she has completely abandoned writing her vampire and gothic horror novels–which she remarks were allegories for her own spiritual emptiness–and has devoted the rest of her life to writing for God.
Anne Rice’s Christ the Lord novels (Out of Egypt and The Road to Cana) are profound Christian texts. Based on years of research of highly regarded sources, her own insights, and the gospels, themselves, Rice has created a new body of work reflective of her own revelations in her religious study. The books are told in the first person point of view from Jesus’ perspective, and manage to paint a simultaneous portrait of Jesus as fully human and fully divine–something that Christians have historically had a very hard time understanding.
What makes Called Out of Darkness a great spiritual memoir, is Anne Rice’s acknowledgement of her own sinful and imperfect state, the imperfect state of the church, and uphill struggle she continues to face in her return to Catholicism. There is no rapturous joy or touchy-feely theology. One still senses her inner turmoil over her choice to return to the faith, but it is this recognition of her inadequacies that helps send Christ’s message to her readers even more–his message of love for all that seems so simple, but is so utterly complex.
My favorite passage from the book had to do with a spiritual experience she had on her way home from working in the convent as an adolescent, that was so simple–yet so overwhelming–that it left its imprint on her heart forever.
“I retain one key memory from that period. One evening I left the convent as usual and headed for the streetcar stop to take the car home. It was just one of many such evenings, with the sun still burning in the rapidly changing sky. On this particular evening as I walked up Prytania Street to Amelia Street, I caught sight of a huge tree, against the golden light, with its branches catching the breeze. The breeze took hold of the tree, limb by limb, and finally the entire tree, with its countless tiny curling leaves, was moving as if in a great dance. I knew perfect joy then as I looked at that tree. I knew a joy that was beyond description. All was right with the world. The world made sense. God made us and God loved us; and I’d done a good day’s work with the best people I knew and for the best reasons I knew; and here was this magnificent spectacle, this entrancing vision of this simple common tree caught in the simple common miracle of the evening breeze.” (p 86-87).
I recommend this book.