In 2005, I witnessed one of the greatest changes in literary history.
Anne Rice, the woman known for writing about vampires, witches, mummies and spirits announced she was going to write books about the life of Jesus Christ.
I remember thinking that this was someone’s really great idea of a joke. But the joke was on me. The first book, Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt, was released shortly after the incredible announcement.
At the time, I worked in a bookstore. I had seen the book on the shelf and ignored it, largely because I thought it wouldn’t be any good. How could a woman who wrote such incredible books about legendary figures switch to writing about Christianity?
In the end, out of sheer curiosity, I bought the book. After the first page, I was held spellbound. Indeed, Anne Rice was writing about the most incredible legendary figure of our time: Jesus Christ.
I devoured the next book about Jesus Christ: Christ the Lord – The Road to Cana. I felt that Out of Egypt and The Road to Cana were Rice’s best work. The reserved, elegant prose read like liquid poetry and the passion and spark that had been lacking in some of her later books had returned in full force.
But I was still left wondering: why? Anne Rice did made a living out writing about characters that go about trying to prove God doesn’t exist. Her books had been incredibly angry towards God and Christianity in particular.
Now here she was writing about the life of Jesus Christ. There is a lengthy authors note in the back of Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt, but I was still left with questions. Though Out of Egypt and The Road to Cana were her best books in years, possibly the best books of her entire career, why did she make such a drastic change?
We finally have an answer.
That answer arrives in Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession. It is Rice’s first memoir and first work of non-fiction. It also seeks to explain her spiritual transformation that resulted in an incredible change in her literary career.
Rice begins the memoir by telling us of her strict Catholic upbringing. How she was surrounded by God and the Church and Catholicism. How she was required to go to church every day and be thankful for God, though he was cruel and vengeful.
What is most interesting, however, is when Rice begins to talk of her years at college and how her strict Catholic upbringing does not fit into her new life away from home. The struggle that Rice goes through to hold on to her relationship with God while being confronted with the normalcy of life outside the Catholic church is truly harrowing.
You feel for her as she struggles internally with what she feels inside and what she sees and experiences all around her. I actually found myself moved emotionally when Rice decides there is no God, that there is no Christ, and becomes an atheist.
And yet, though she claimed not to believe in God, each of Rice’s novels prior to her new relationship with God as a Catholic, has to do with God and those who seek him. Each of her novels featured those who are constantly searching for a bliss they do not feel in their souls.
Through out all those years, she was really a closet Christian, a woman obsessed with God but unwilling to admit it to herself. It takes something miraculous to bring her back to the Catholic Church.
And back to God.
Now, I am not a Christian. I don’t normally read what I would call Christian books. They don’t appeal to me, they don’t interest me and I normally pass them by in the bookstore. In fact, they usually make me slightly uncomfortable.
There are a few reasons for this. Like Rice, I grew up in an incredibly religious home. I was subjected to rules and regulations that were all dictated by the Church. God seemed to be filled with more hate than love, more vengeance then forgiveness. My church at the time and my family were not able to show me a God capable of love.
I moved away from the Catholic Church as soon as I could.
After much searching, found a spirituality that suited me, that sated the need for spirituality I had. But I still get a sour taste in my mouth when I think of Christianity. Regretfully, it is my families’ skewed version of Christianity that always comes to the light first.
All that to say: I don’t normally read what I would call Christian books. However, Called out of Darkness is beyond wonderful. The same beautiful writing that shines on the pages of Christ the Lord – Out of Egypt and Christ the Lord – The Road to Cana graces the pages of Called Out of Darkness in abundance.
But the most beautiful thing about Called Out of Darkness is that Rice makes the distinction between God and the Church. One of the most beautiful parts of Called Out of Darkness is when Rice laments her lost relationship with God and realizes that it has nothing to do with the Church. It all has to do with God and with God’s love.
Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession is an intimate account of Anne Rice’s journey back to Christianity, back to Catholicism. Back to God. It is a story of one woman’s search to find herself in a world that is often confusing.
Called Out of Darkness is an incredible, moving story of one woman’s search for who she is and what she believes. It is the story of one woman who searched for, and found, her spirit.
More than that, Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Journey is a beautiful, haunting book. Regardless of whether or not you are a Christian, or have even read any of Anne Rice’s books about Jesus Christ, read this book.
Your spirit will thank you for it.