It’s interesting, how certain writers meander along various spiritual paths. The vampire queen, Anne Rice, comes to mind. Once acclaimed for her vampire chronicles – which inspired Tom Cruise’s ghastly film performance in “Interview with a Vampire” – Rice went into self-reflection after her atheist husband, Stan, died just before Christmas 2002.
Personally, I think the most amazing insight Rice had as she redirected her writing efforts by crafting two novels about the life of Christ was her dumbfounded explanation of why she returned to the faith of her youth.
In “Christ the Lord Out of Egypt,” Rice wrote that among other things she noticed in her historical research was the fact that she concluded the Bible is true based on the mysterious preservation of the Jews. She read the Bible, with its rich promises to that chastened people … and decided that if Isaiah and Jeremiah and friends had recorded the preservation of the Chosen People – despite ridiculous odds – then there must be a God.
So the “mother” of Lestat and legions of other undead fiends left it all behind to follow the one who said he is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
The atheist found child-like faith.
It is at least ironic that some faith writers follow an opposite path. I’m thinking of writers like Sue Monk Kidd, whose spiritual metamorphosis has taken her from evangelical Christianity to New Age.
Then there are those Christians who dabble in writing, editing and gadflying (did I invent a new word? I think I did!). These are folks who work behind the scenes, developing projects that prove far more eclectic than anything from their more traditional backgrounds.
Although he didn’t acquire the new series from psychic Sylvia Browne, for HarperOne, Michael “Mickey” Maudlin (vice president and editorial director) still stands as a fascinating bridge between the evangelical world and the Oprah world. Meaning, I suppose, that some writers and editors are comfortable traversing the whole of the spiritual landscape.
Publishers Weekly has reported that the San Francisco–based imprint, HarperOne, has signed Browne for a three-book deal, commencing in 2010.
I mention this because, if Rice is correct and the Bible is true, psychics are trudging over dangerous territory; sort of an unreal landscape like that seen in “What Dreams May Come” – a troubling perversion of reality.
The Bible forbids the practice of necromancy (communication with the dead), but we somehow don’t believe in that old wives’ tale anymore. After all, the Bible is pretty old and was written for another time and for different cultures.
I looked at Browne’s website, where she is touted as a spiritual teacher and psychic. She also has a line of jewelry, which would no doubt make a great Christmas idea for pagans.
It is her memoir, “Psychic,” which will be published by HarperOne (owned by HarperCollins, which also owns Christian publisher Zondervan) in May 2010.
Maudlin, once an editor at evangelical flagship Christianity Today, is at home with the pluralistic list at HarperOne, one can assume. It is quite a mixed bag, from “365 Zen,” to Bart Ehrman’s “God’s Problem,” which claims that the Bible contradicts itself on the subject of suffering. Another title, “Racing Toward Armageddon,” is no doubt in part a hatchet job on conservative Christians who believe the world will end as the Bible predicts.
All this to say, Rice’s scintillating spiritual experience is uncommon today, because the world is pluralistic when it comes to religion. Exclusivity, as offered by the subject of the New Testament, is a stone in the cultural shoe. It aggravates, annoys, eventually seeming to invite hostility.
Sylvia Browne is popular today. So is Oprah’s spiritual buffet. Deepak Chopra. Heck, even Thomas Merton in death is a rock star.
Rice will continue to sell books, but by removing her fangs and talking about Jesus like he is actually the Son of God, she will take her place with the writers of more modest success. They write and work in a world where book parties in Manhattan and fame and gleeful interviews on Oprah are for someone else.
Like Sylvia Browne.