Last Updated:Friday - 09/24/2010
November 7, 2005
Horror author finds new hope through Jesus
Conversion stirs rejoicing in heaven
On the Other Hand
SPECIAL TO THE WCR
Jesus said: "There will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over 99 who do not need to" (Luke 15:7).
Consequently, there must have been quite a party in the Holy City over prolific author Anne Rice, widely considered queen of the horror/macabre genre, returning to the Catholic faith she abandoned at age 18, and turning her talents to writing Christian literature.
After a close encounter with the real grim reaper in 1998 when she went into a sudden diabetic coma, then again last year with surgery for an intestinal blockage, Rice promised, she told Newsweek's David Gates, "that from now on I would write only for the Lord."
JESUS AT 7
In a blog entry last July, Rice wrote: "I'll do anything to get it out there - to the Christians of which I am one . . . to my regular readers who may think they can't care about this 'character' who made the world. It's a vocation; it's an obsession. It's an evangelism."
Getting it out there she is with her first new novel since 1993, Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt (Knopf, November 2005), a first-person narrative of Jesus at age 7, to be the first of a four-volume series.
In a Publisher's Weekly press release, Marcia Nelson says "the subject turnabout is no stretch for her fans - her books about vampires and witches have always explored good and evil. For research, she sank her teeth into extensive biblical scholarship." "If I can make vampires so real that people would call me up at home and ask about them, can I make them feel the presence of Jesus Christ?" she asked.
Some of Rice's fans are unenchanted by the change in focus, to say nothing of reviewers. "Unfortunately, what she has written is worthy of a Sunday-school life of Jesus," sniffed the Canadian Press's Kim Covert.
Ummm, I think that's precisely the point. Rice herself acknowledges that the new book and its sequels may not be well received by her dedicated fans. "I've told them, 'You may not want what I'm doing next,' " she told Newsweek. But "My life has led to this book," she says. "I was ready to do violence to my career. . . . I mean, I was in despair."
Unsurprisingly. After a life spent focused on researching and writing some 25 books themed on spiritual darkness, who wouldn't be in despair? Rice affirms that her stories about vampires and witches featured compulsive, conscience-stricken evildoers that were a reflection of her own spiritual unease, and now calls Christ "the ultimate supernatural hero . . . the ultimate immortal of them all."
Of course, as a Christian, I think God had something to do with it as well, working as he does, in mysterious ways.
Throughout history, God has frequently used unlikely individuals as instruments of the Gospel: St.Paul, zealous persecutor of Christians who held the coats of the crew that stoned St. Stephen to death; the promiscuous sex-addict who became St. Augustine of Hippo; John Newton, the slave ship captain and self-described "wretch" who found Christ and penned one of the all-time favourite Christian hymns: Amazing Grace; former Marxist/feminist radical activists - now orthodox Catholics - Eugene and Elizabeth Genovese; Mel Gibson as Christian filmmaker.
How many are aware that prototypical '60s shock-rocker Alice Cooper, a son of missionaries who spectacularly drifted away, became a Christian about 14 years ago and has quietly headed the Christian youth outreach Solid Rock Foundation in Arizona for a decade.
"That had everything to do with what the Lord did for me," Cooper recently told the Gallup Independent's Kathy Helms. "It was a miracle - an absolute miracle. It had nothing to do with my will power, because I have no will power. But it had everything to do with Jesus coming into my life and just taking it away from me."
WHERE IS MARILYN MANSON?
Who's next? Ozzie Osborne and Marilyn Manson?
Anne Rice, 64,says she hopes to make Jesus come alive to readers through her new story. Newsweek's Gates observes that her "attempt to render a child's point of view can read like a Sunday-school text crossed with Hemingway." Which is no bad thing.
Her publisher, Knopf, has ordered an initial print run of 500,000, released Nov. 1, and is working with WaterBrook, Random House's evangelical Christian imprint, to get Christ The Lord: Out of Egypt into evangelical book distribution and retail channels.
I have some problems with Rice's lapses in orthodoxy. She's still quite socially liberal, and references heretical material like the Infancy Gospel of Thomas in her bibliography. But God isn't through with her (or me) yet, and I hope her book becomes a bestseller.