08 August 2010


Punk Catholic Thought of the Week
(And The Second Basket of Leftovers)

Would the real Anne Rice please stand up???

I'm being ironic, of course. There has never been a time the real Anne Rice wasn't standing up. But there have always been people who thought they got what was going on with her only to be sucker punched by some new writing that she didn't publish with them in mind but which they took personally, anyway.

I had to deal with some of them on an Interview with the Vampire discussion board soon after she "reverted" to the Church; and I'm seeing a similar disgruntled renunciation on Catholic blogs now that she has "deverted" from it again. Vampires, all of them! My LycanCath soul was disgusted enough when "we" collectively threw Mel Gibson under the bus, but this just takes the cake.

And now you're wondering what this has to do with my latest fragmentorum cofinus . . .

"To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself."

-- Anne Rice

The difference between autobiographical writing and blogging is that one of them has an ending and that the other has only a time stamp.

When I was still writing on my old blog, I could write about the same things over and over again for months. I'd look at them from different angles . . . see how they handled new writing styles . . . try to figure out what it was I really thought about them. And whenever I believed my mind had finally been made up, a new insight would come to me--via a comment or another blog I had been reading--and this process of thinking out loud (or thinking online) would begin anew.

I've been doing my thinking "on paper" since I started keeping a journal as a teenager. Until I graduated to HMTL, I filled up almost twenty notebooks with just my ramblings. Hundreds upon hundreds of pages. I still have those old journals; now and then I remind myself that I want to burn them. They are like so many old newspapers to me: the headlines, the editorials, the birth and death announcements, and the funnies of my life. Like old newspapers, they lose their relevance once the next day's news arrives.

Yes, the latest news is always hatched from the old news--or at least it is when I get to do journalism. I insist on continuity--and on context. And I wonder why, when the new contains the old, it is necessary to keep the shells.

Blogging was a new medium that completely changed the way I covered my own life. It used to be that my thoughts were not published until they had been thoroughly worked out--beaten into sharp swords or aged into a perfect vintage in the smithies and wine cellars of my mind. Nobody ever read anything before it was as perfect as it could be. I might have an editorial fit six months later and want to rewrite the whole thing, but it would have had all the integrity of the moment, in its own moment. But what blogging does is give everything I write--even the half forged weapons and the newly pressed grapes--the same integrity. That can be, as Anne Rice must know, a very risky way to be a writer.

Last December, I had some thoughts about being a "cradle Catholic" that seemed to clash with a certain pro-convert culture in the Catholic blogosphere. The dissonance ate at me; I had to write about it until I figured out why. Since I was also playing around with the idea of "theme months" at around that time, I called this period of reflection and gymnastics "Bad Catholic" Month and styled my posts accordingly.

Then the worst thing that could possibly have happened, happened: I went viral.

And people who did not understand what was going on--some people who had never before read a word I had blogged--showed up to scream.

Another blogger who had been particularly offended sent me a private message to explain why I had been so "wrong." Feeling simultaneously chastened and unrepentant, aware of both the power of my words and the fact that they had been taken the wrong way, I mused in my reply, "I don't think there is anything I can say to acquit myself." And he wrote back: "That's why I forgave you. Forgiveness is for the inexcusable." And I thought, "Oh, wow. You really are the jerk everyone says you are."

(Oh, dear. Was that a cheap shot?)

The whole experience ran along the same hilarious, ridiculous lines; but by the end, I was no longer laughing. More shaken than I wanted to admit, I closed that blog, moved all my public writing here, and decided it would be all funnies, all the time. With, yes, an occasional Punk Catholic post--because some things can't be completely suppressed.

But funnies aren't always edifying, and the "punk" theme is not one I can keep nursing forever. For the past few months, I've had hardly anything in that corner. And that is because there is, at the moment, nothing "punk" left to write. It is old news; it is the shell from which something new has hatched. But I'm not sure what that new thing is--and I won't until I've written about it for a while.

This is why I side with Anne Rice in her freedom to blog that she has renounced Christians out of loyalty to Christ.

I have no doubt that she means it. I mean everything I write when I publish it, too. But that doesn't mean I will still mean it several years from now. And this doesn't mean that I don't know my own mind. In this online culture which thrives on immediacy and in which last week's news is practically ancient history, it is hard enough to remember the wise saying that "Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future." It must be next to impossible to remember that saints and sinners are often difficult to tell apart in the tangle of the present.

I had thought that "Kiss My Blog!" was a good enough response to anyone having a self-important fit over something I had blogged; but now I think it would be more accurate to snarl, "Kiss My Time Stamp!"

The sweetest thing is that it will probably go over his sorry head . . .

I'm opening the combox again.

Image Sources: a) Anne Rice 1, b) Anne Rice 2


Sullivan McPig said...

I think people shouldn't get so riled up about other people's believes and thoughts as long as those believes and thoughts do not take away freedom from others or hurt anyone (long toes not included, if you step on those let them be hurt.)

Cozy Book Nook (Lesa) said...

We aren't robots or Stepford Wives-- our views/opinions on any topic should evolve with maturation and new information-- that is just common sense to me. People who are static in their thinking and freak out over what someone opined at age 14 or 24 or 34 ect are just stupid. Happens in politics all the time and I find it very annoying.

About Anne Rice: I don't keep up with her doings but I like her! didn't know she had a blog-- but then I've never read an author blog-- sounds like it might be interesting-- should I check it out?

Enbrethiliel said...


@ Sully: I think what happened was that I struck a raw nerve many people didn't know they had--or didn't know was so raw. I felt bad about hurting the feelings of my regular readers (which was not even intentional); but then complete strangers started showing up to argue with me, feeling they had the right to do so because I was the one who was "wrong," and I decided that I just didn't want to deal with that any longer.

By the way, I like the expression "long toes"! After we've gone out of our way not to step on other people's toes, we still can't help it if some have extra-long toes, can we? =P

@ Lesa: I kind of like Anne Rice, too, but her own biggest fans seem to think she's bipolar! =P Well, I've read Interview with the Vampire and thought it was both a brilliant expression of her grief at her daughter's death and a brilliant novel on its own merits; and also Feast of All Saints, which is a darkly seductive Historical novel about 19th century New Orleans' genteel, mixed-race class.

Since I'm not a big fan, I don't really read her blog and can't recommend it. I just learned about this because she made the news again for something she had written. But if you check it out and see that she's worth a follow, then that will be another good read for you! =)

Sullivan McPig said...

"After we've gone out of our way not to step on other people's toes, we still can't help it if some have extra-long toes, can we? =P "

Exactly! Some people are just too easily offended in my opinion.

ninjapeps said...

Exactly! Some people are just too easily offended in my opinion.

and then there are people who'll look for a reason to be offended.

CMinor said...

And now, as Paul Harvey used to say, I know the rest of the story!

It may just be my own tendency to be a little too blunt, but I have learned over and over just how full the blogosphere is of short fuses. Shaking it off when you've just been lambasted isn't easy, but remember that those angry folks are working with insufficient info.

Enbrethiliel said...


Peppy: The drama queens! ;-)

CMinor: I think what made it harder was that I was working with insufficient information myself. In fact, I usually am. =P Then I need six months or so to let my own story play out for me so that I can figure out what the moral is.

twowaysofrenouncingthedevil said...

I won't pretend to have understood (or even thoroughly read) all the muck over there, but as usual I have a definitive opinion.

*I* think what happened is you brought up an original point.

It surprised me.
It took me a minute to catch my breath, reflect, reread, consider. It was a lot of fun.

But some folks really, really, really don't like it when you jump out of the closet and go "Boo!".

I have wondered about Rice's story. I'll have to go look for it. . . .

As for what we wrote at 14, and politics, it's true that people seem to dig up stuff from 30 years earlier and use it to define a public figure today. But I also think it's interesting how public figures so often are reluctant to address that. A quick, "I was 14, I was stupid and led by propaganda, I don't believe that anymore, here are three pieces of evidence from the last year that show that" or "I believed that when I was 14, today I believe the essence of it but in this way, let me tell you about it. . . " sort of thing. Instead, they just let it sit. Of course, part of that is that anything you say about anything gets twisted, so silence is your friend. But I think, too, people are reluctant to give up those shells. My husband burns every rough draft he writes when the final is complete. But I keep every copy of everything, bins full of unsorted junk. Just can't get that the person I was is part of the person I am, not some past creature that will be forgotten entirely if I don't keep a photo.

Enbrethiliel said...


I think I'd be a bit more tolerant of some folks if they didn't click on the link from someone else's blog (or as in the case of the specific blogger mentioned here, click on the link in an anonymously sent e-mail) and choose to hear me go "Boo!" As for my regular readers . . . you'd think they would have known that I go "Boo!" a lot, anyway. I guess they just didn't expect me to do it at them. =(

And really, I didn't know I was going "Boo!" That was the last post of a whole month full of foreshadowing; I thought I was strolling into a room in broad daylight and going, "Hey, guys!"

Where rough drafts are concerned, I don't really burn stuff; but I don't bend over backwards to make sure I always have it. When I clean out my room, I'm always surprised at some of the papers that managed to get saved until that moment. But I did use to save every last bit of paper. I think I still would, if it weren't for my friend Blogger. =P And even now, there are several dozen drafts (on my old blog as well as this one) which will never see the light of day, but which I can't really bear to delete. (This is kind of irrational, though; I've deleted many others before.)

Terry Nelson said...

Excellent post - as you know, I will be linking. "Writing helps me think." Ah - who said that?

Enbrethiliel said...


Thanks, Terry!

And just when I thought a Catholic blog would never link to me again . . . ;-)

Pablo said...

Maybe Miss Rice got bitten by one of those vampires she writes about...

She was Catholic, now she has renounced her belief. Even though she claims to still believe in Christ. She just doesn't believe in what the Church teaches.

Take her name out of that equation, and you just described a Modern Novus Ordo Catholic.


Enbrethiliel said...


Her vampires are actually very autobiographical! They're also very Catholic. I remember being skeptical about her "reversion" the first time around, when she said she wouldn't write any more vampire novels, because they were the most Catholic thing about her life during the time she was separate from the Church.

I wouldn't know about "Novu Oro" either--it's too new a label for the specific sort of death of faith that her characters experience (which is an extension of her own experiences). But I also think she'll be back.

Thanks for stopping by, Pablo!