Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Anne Rice, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt"

A friend went to a book signing at Grand Central Terminal in NYC by Anne Rice of her new book, "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt". Expecting yet another in a long line of Gnostic Jesus tales, this time from the Queen of Vampires and Witches, I was surprised to hear that she rejoined the Catholic Church of her youth and was attempting a serious, orthodox telling of the life of Jesus. Here are some notes from her official website to give you some flavor.

October 28, 2005

"Dear Ones,
Tomorrow, October 29th, I leave on my book tour for the promotion of Christ the Lord. So far, the reception of the book has been quietly astonishing. Reviews have been far more kind than I ever expected, and the the talk on the internet is far greater than I ever imagined it would be, if I imagined it at all.

Let me make a few statements before I leave you for an extended period of meeting my readers face to face. First off, there is much misunderstanding about this book floating around, and misinformation about me.

This book, as I've already explained, is a sincere attempt to bring to life in fiction the world of Jesus of Nazareth, whom I believe, is the Son of God. The Four Gospels are definitely the main framework for the story, the main source for it, and the firm structure into which any fictional liberties are carefully placed. Use of the Apocrypha is extremely limited in this novel, and the reasons for the use of early legends about Jesus' childhood is fully explained in The Author's Note in the book.

I do not have any particular interest in the gnostic gospels. They do not figure in this book at all, as far as I know. Also I have not written anything at all resembling the Da Vinci Code. I thought the Da Vinci Code was a scream.

Regarding my return to the Catholic Church in 1998, this had nothing to do with my husband's illness, as he did not become ill till four years later. And it had nothing to do with my own illness in 1998 which happened afterwards.

My return to faith is described in The Author's Note as well. It was not something that happened over night. It came about over a period of years.

I make these statements because as I check out the blogs at night, I'm amazed at the momentum of false statements about me and the book and the opinions generated by these false statements. There is something frightening about seeing the same mistaken assumption repeated over and over again from blog to blog. Of course this chatter will undoubtedly die down at some point, and it may or may not affect the fate of the book in the Public Square. Whatever the case, if you've followed me this far, let me ask you to be open minded about Christ the Lord. I am not exaggerating when I say that the book surprises people.

I'm very much looking forward to this tour for all the obvious reasons: I'll see my readers, hear their voices, experience their presence in positive and fortifying ways. And this publication is especially thrilling to me because my conversion was so intense and so total, and this book represents for me the pinnacle of what I have attempted in a lifetime of writing. Understand, I've never written anything without zeal. But I do feel that all my previous research and all my earlier writing was preparation for this. ...

Take care and be well, and love, Anne."


Blogger christopher3rd said...

Here is the Book Review in the New York Times:

10:29 AM EST  
Blogger Andrew Middleton said...

Although I appreciate Rice's desire to "serve the Lord" the question begs to be asked: is it ever appropriate for a Christian to undertake a novel such as the one she has just published? There seem to be "practical benefits" to its publication (increased interest in Christianity, and so on), but if the undertaking is fundamentally flawed, then the whole house crumbles, so to speak.
Any thoughts?
My gut feeling is that there needs to be a certain amount of aesthetic distance between a literary representation of Christ and Christ...this is why Lewis's Aslan is successful: Lewis is careful not to confuse Aslan and Christ...that Aslan is a lion and lives in an imaginary world provides a great deal of distance between the two...although Aslan is like Christ in many ways, he is never identified as a representation of Christ...and if there are many similarities, there are even more differences.

5:46 PM EST  
Blogger christopher3rd said...

I would tend to agree with you, Herman. Inevitably, it will represent her personal view of who Christ "really was" than it will represent the real Jesus. From what I have read so far, it also rides very close to the line of whether Jesus knew Himself to be God, or whether he came to that understanding. This could very easily fall into an Adoptionism that is anathema to catholic, orthodox Christianity. Her statement that she believes that Jesus is God could be a convenient and defensible sophistry for an Adoptionist, but I believe she has gone on to say that she believes as does the Catholic Church (but, what does she mean by that?).

At the same time, it could also be seen to be a poetic exploration of the true, full humanity of Jesus Christ that grew in knowledge and understanding- as to his human nature, will, soul, etc.- while his Person fully knew. But, is it possible for the knowledge proper to the one nature is somehow fenced off from the other nature in the same Person? Doesn't this devolve into Nestorianism, or worse?

While this may be a courageous and honest attempt to poetically reveal Christ, it is a field riddled with mines. It is probably not the safest course of action to take as a struggling, relatively new, Christian trying to tame an art that had taken her to places she likely regrets having gone to, now. Imagination and art are powerful weapons that are as often turned on the dreamer/artist, or that has been my experience.

9:46 AM EST  

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