Item description for Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession by Anne Rice...
Overview The author presents a personal journey of faith that records her New Orleans Catholic childhood; loss of faith and involvement with secular humanism; and her eventual return, after thirty-eight years as an atheist, to New Orleans and a belief in Christ.
Publishers Description In 2005, Anne Rice startled her readers with her novel Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt, and by revealing that, after years as an atheist, she had returned to her Catholic faith.
Christ the Lord: The Road to Cana followed.
And now, in her powerful and haunting memoir, Rice tells the story of the spiritual transformation that produced a complete change in her literary goals.
She begins with her girlhood in New Orleans as the devout child in a deeply religious Irish Catholic family. She describes how, as she grew up, she lost her belief in God, but not her desire for a meaningful life.
She writes about her years in radical Berkeley, where her career as a novelist began with the publication of Interview with the Vampire, soon to be followed by more novels about otherworldly beings, about the realms of good and evil, love and alienation, pageantry and ritual, each reflecting aspects of her often agonizing moral quest.
She writes about loss and tragedy (her mother's drinking; the death of her daughter and, later, her beloved husband, Stan Rice); about new joys; about the birth of her son, Christopher; about the family's return in 1988 to the city of New Orleans, the city that inspired so much of her work. She tells how after an adult lifetime of questioning, she experienced the intense conversion and consecration to Christ that lie behind her most recent novels.
For her readers old and new, this book explores her continuing interior pilgrimage.
“[A] very affecting story of a well-known prodigal’s return. . . . Called Out of Darkness is the vivid, engaging tale of the journey of a soul into light.” —Chicago Sun-Times
“Rice couples her writing talents with the zeal of a recent convert.” —Christianity Today
“Rice could rival C.S. Lewis as a popular apologist for the faith.” —Time
“Rice’s memoir shows what true belief really involves. It exacts a price. James Agee had a lovely term for this. He called it ‘cruel radiance.’” —Los Angeles Times
“Anne Rice is not a convert but a revert. . . . A loving reconstruction of the pre–Vatican II Church of the 1940s and 1950s. . . . [After] twenty-five years and twenty-one books . . . Rice entrusts both herself and the people she loves to God.” —First Things
“Called Out of Darknessis rich in both poetic simplicity and liberating confessionals. This memoir is not to be missed.” —East Bay Literary Examiner
“I am not a Christian and I normally don’t 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. . . . [But] I picked up [Called Out of Darkness] up this afternoon and it’s beyond wonderful.” —Jamieson Wolf
“As a long-time reader of Anne Rice’s, the impetus she presents here makes me want to re-read many of her prior works. I highly recommend this book to anyone who seeks the inspiration and motivation behind the bestselling novels they’ve read.”—BookReporter.com
“Nothing short of magnificent. . . . What a real blessing, what a vulnerable sharing.” —Flos Carmeli
“A lovely, intelligent book.” —PopMatters
“Even if you don’t consider yourself to be a religious person—even if you are not a Christian—read this book. Anyone can appreciate the message contained in Called Out of Darkness. . . . It is a thinking person’s approach to faith.” —Edge (Provincetown, MA)
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Anne Rice is the author of twenty-eight books. She lives in Rancho Mirage, California.
This book is about faith in God.
For more than twenty centuries, Christianity has given us dazzling works of theology, yet it remains a religion in which the heart is absolutely essential to faith.
The appeal of Jesus Christ was first and foremost to the heart.
The man knocked on his back on the Road to Damascus experienced a transformation of the heart. St. Francis of Assisi, giving away all of his clothes as he turned to follow Christ, was reflecting a decision of the heart. Mother Teresa founded her world-famous order of nuns because of a decision of the heart.
The immensity of these figures finds an imperfect student in me, but not an inattentive one.
I want to tell, as simply as I can—and nothing with me as a writer has ever really been simple—the story of how I made my decision of the heart.
So here is the story of one path to God.
The story has a happy ending because I have found the Transcendent God both intellectually and emotionally. And complete belief in Him and devotion to Him, no matter how interwoven with occasional fear and constant personal failure and imperfection, has become the true story of my life.
If this path to God is an illusion, then the story is worthless. If the path is real, then we have something here that may matter to you as well as to me.
Before I can describe how I returned to faith, at the age of fifty-seven, I want to describe how I learned about God as a child.
What strikes me now as most important about this experience is that it preceded reading books. Christians are People of the Book, and our religion is often described as a Religion of the Book. And for two thousand years, all that we believe has been handed down in texts.
But no doubt many children learned about God as I did—from my mother and from the experience of church which had little or nothing directly to do with knowing how to read.
Over the years, I turned out to be a consistently poor reader, and I don't think I ever read a novel for pleasure until I was in the sixth grade. Even in my college years, I was a poor reader and, in fact, couldn't major in English because I could not read the amounts of Chaucer or Shakespeare assigned in the classes. I graduated with a bachelor of arts degree in political science, principally because I could understand the historic background I received for political ideas through good lectures.
I was twenty-seven before I began to make up an undergraduate degree in English, and thirty-one before I received a master's in English. Even then I read so slowly and poorly that I took my master's orals on three authors, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, and Ernest Hemingway, without having read all of their works. I couldn't possibly read all of their works.
The reason I'm emphasizing this is because I believe that what we learn through reading is essentially different from what we learn in other ways. And my concept of God came through the spoken words of my mother, and also the intensely beautiful experiences I had in church.
It's important to stress here that my earliest experiences involved beauty; my strongest memories are of beautiful things I saw, things which evoked such profound feeling in me that I often felt pain.
In fact I remember my early childhood as full of beauty, and no ugly moment from that time has any reality for me. The beauty is the song of those days.
I vividly remember knowing about God, that He loved us, made us, took care of us, that we belonged to Him; and I remember loving Jesus as God; and praying to Him and to His Blessed Mother, the Virgin Mary, when I was very small.
I can't really associate any one image with Jesus because there were so many around me, from small highly sentimental holy pictures, which we treasured at home, to magnificent images of Jesus in St. Alphonsus Church.
I'll describe the church in a minute, as it takes considerable describing, but first I want to mention a small place where we went often to pray. This was the Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help on Third and Prytania streets, a consecrated Catholic chapel with a tabernacle and an altar, in which Mass was celebrated every day. The chapel was a huge room inside an old Garden District mansion, set in spacious gardens, that was also a high school.
My mother had graduated from this high school many years before, and I recall going to a garden party on the grounds when I was a little child. The building itself was impressive, with a central doorway, floor-length windows on the front and on both sides, and colonnettes along the front porch that held up the porch above.
Much later in life—during the 1990s—when I was a well-known author, I actually bought this building, as it had tremendous meaning for me. Not only had my mother gone to school there, but my aunts and cousins had gone to school there as well. Some cousins had been married in the chapel. And my strongest religious memories were centered on this place. The story of that purchase and what it meant requires a book, and indeed I wrote a novel using the building as a key backdrop, but that is not my concern just now.
This is what it was like in the 1940s to go to the Chapel of Our Mother of Perpetual Help.
We left our house at St. Charles and Philip, and walked up the avenue, under the oaks, and almost always to the slow roar of the passing streetcars, and rumble of traffic, then crossed over into the Garden District, a very special neighborhood filled with immense Greek Revival–style homes, many of which had been built before the Civil War. This was an immediate plunge into a form of quiet, because though traffic did move steadily on Prytania Street, it was nothing as loud as the traffic of the avenue. The oaks were bigger and more ancient, and the enormous houses with their Corinthian or Doric columns were monuments in themselves. Everywhere there were flowers. Purple lantana and ice blue plumbago burst through the pickets of black iron fences, and beyond in the more groomed gardens grew the flowers I associated with rich people: multi-petaled camellias and gorgeously defined roses in black beds. It was fine to pick the soft fragrant lantana, and the bunches of plumbago. The finer flowers one left alone.
It was often evening when we made this short walk, and I remember the pavements as clearly as I remember the cicadas singing in the trees. The pavements varied; some were herringbone brick, very dark, uneven, and often trimmed in velvet green moss. Other sidewalks were purple flagstone, just like the purple flagstones of our own front yard. Even the rare stretches of raw cement were interesting because the cement had broken and buckled in so many places over the roots of the giant magnolias and the oaks.
The walk was two and a half blocks.
The chapel stood behind a high black picket fence with its gate permanently open, and a short flight of white marble steps led up to the white marble porch. I don't recall the chapel ever being locked.
The sky during these trips was often bloodred, or purple, and the trees were so thick that one could only see hundreds of fragments of the sky amid clusters of darkening leaves. The color of the sky seemed to me to be connected with the song of the cicadas, and the drowsy shadows playing everywhere on the margins of what was visible, and the distinct feel of the humid air. Even in winter the air was moist, so that the world itself seemed to be pulsing around us, enfolding us, holding us as we moved through it.
The chapel had an immense and ornate doorway.
Immediately on entering, one smelled the wax of the flickering candles, and the lingering incense from the Tuesday night benediction service and from the daily or Sun- day Mass.
These fragrances were associated in my mind with the utter quiet of the chapel, the glow of the candlelight, and the faces of the tall plaster saints that surrounded us as we moved up the aisle.
We went right past the many rows of dark wooden pews on either side, up to the Communion railing, which I think was white marble, and there we knelt on the leather-cushioned step as we said our prayers. We laid down there the flowers we'd picked on our walk. I think my mother told us that Mr. Charlie, who took care of the chapel, would put these flowers in some proper place.
The great altar against the back wall, just beyond us, was a masterpiece of white and gilt plasterwork, and the altar proper, the place where Mass was said, was always covered with an ornate lace-bordered white cloth.
In a long horizontal glass case in the lower body of the altar, there sat a long series of small plaster statues around a table making up the Last Supper, with Our Lord in the center, and six Apostles on either side. I knew this was Jesus there at the table, facing us. And in later years, I came to realize the figures were arranged in imitation of Da Vinci's Last Supper. It was detailed and artful and complete.
The Body and Blood of Jesus were in the golden tabernacle on the altar above. This was the Blessed Sacrament. A candle burning in a red glass lamp nearby told us that the Blessed Sacrament was there. This was called the sanctuary light.
On account of this Presence of Our Lord in the chapel, we moved with reverence, whispering if we had to speak, and kneeling as was proper. This chapel required all the same respect as any large Catholic church.
I remember the gold tabernacle had a concave front, and carved doors. The tabernacle was set in a lavish plaster edifice that included small white columns, but the details are now gone from my mind.
We said our prayers as we knelt there. We paid our “visit.” And we left as quietly as we had come.
I don't remember being particularly puzzled by these truths, that Our Lord was in the tabernacle, in the form of bread, which was in fact His Body and Blood. I just remember knowing it. He was most definitely there. He was splendidly and miraculously there. He was also completely accessible. We talked to Him. We told Him our prayers and our thoughts.
I was accustomed to all this before I could talk or ask a question, and I was as certain that Jesus was there as I was that the streetcars passed our house. I was nourished on the complexity of this, and I suppose I felt quite gently filled with these ideas.
Above the tabernacle, in an ornate frame, was an exotic and dark golden picture of Our Mother of Perpetual Help—the Virgin with the Boy Jesus in her lap. This was indeed a distinct image, quite different from anything else in the chapel, and I don't recall ever asking why.
Years later I discovered it was a Russian icon, and that was the reason for its unusual style. What I remember knowing when I was little was that Mary was our Mother as well as the Mother of Jesus, and that in this picture, the Boy Jesus had come to her with a broken sandal, seeking her help.
A long time later, I learned the story of the picture—that the Boy Jesus had run to His Mother in fear. Angels on either side of Him, quite visible in the icon, had frightened Him by revealing to Him the cross on which He would one day die, and the nails that would be driven through His hands. These angels hovered in the air with these terrible instruments. Being only a boy, Jesus had run to His Mother for comfort, and with a sorrowful face she embraced Him and sought to give Him the solace He so badly needed.
As a little child, I saw all these elements and I understood them in a less narrative way. There was the Child leaning tenderly on His Mother, and there was she, His eternal comfort, and, yes, there were the angels holding the emblems of what Jesus would one day undergo.
That Jesus had been crucified, had died, and had risen from the dead was completely understood. One had to look no farther than the Stations of the Cross along the walls to see that story acted out step by step.
These Stations, which were square paintings, each richly colored and detailed, were vivid and realistic in style, as was every other image in the church.
To me they looked interesting and were irresistibly pretty. There was nothing exotic or abstract about them as there was with the icon.
In each picture, Our Lord was serene and infinitely patient, a tall handsome man with long soft brown hair. We felt an immediate sadness when we thought about what Jesus had suffered. But Jesus was now quite beyond all suffering, and what He had suffered, He had suffered on earth among people, and He had suffered it for us.
The other important elements in the chapel were the life-size statues, each painted in vivid color. They stood on pedestals along the walls.
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Format: Deckle Edge
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.64" Width: 6.56" Height: 0.98" Weight: 0.95 lbs.
Release Date Oct 7, 2008
ISBN 0307268276 ISBN13 9780307268273
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More About Anne Rice
Anne Rice is the author of thirty-two books. She lives in Palm Desert, California. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Anne Rice currently resides in New Orleans, in the state of Louisiana. Anne Rice was born in 1941.
Anne Rice has published or released items in the following series...
Reviews - What do customers think about Called Out of Darkness: A Spiritual Confession?
An amazing tale, fascinating to this non-Catholic Christian (a review of the audiobook) May 16, 2010
Running time: 7 hours, 9 minutes 6 CDs Read by Kirsten Potter
Let me start this review by saying three things:
1) I am not a Catholic (I am a Lutheran); 2) I have never left the faith in any meaningful way; 3) This is my first Anne Rice book - I've never even seen more than a tiny bit the Tom Cruise movie.
I have never had much interest in the topic of Vampires and Vampire LeStat series was literally of no interest to me. When I noticed that Rice was writing the Christ the Lord series I had the same thought that she expressed in this book - what is she going to do to mess with Jesus? So, I ignored that as well.
But, when I ran across this audiobook I suddenly grew interested and I was not disappointed.
The book is broken into three general sections: her childhood in New Orleans, her college/career/atheism and her return to Catholicism.
The childhood section is deeply descriptive, so lush that I felt like I was wandering the streets of post-World War II New Orleans with her. Her descriptions of the full and complete life she had as a young Catholic are nothing short of beautiful. As a Lutheran I am mystified by the Maryology and the prayers to saints. This is the largest of the three sections. If the book were truncated to include only this part it would still be a worthy read.
The second section is much less detailed and is the smallest of the three parts. It is interesting but I never was quite satisfied as to the explanation for her falling away from her faith. But, then again, she notes it was just one comment from one priest that finished the job of pushing her away and, in my experience, that is often what people use as the excuse for walking away - a comment or a look from someone. Rice's comments about the Hippy scene in San Francisco in the late 1960s and early 1970s are very interesting and, at times, highly amusing.
The third section is about her return to faith. It is well done and nearly as good as the first section. I suppose that Rice intentionally made the first and third chapters much more vibrant than the middle chapter since those involve her life as a believer and she emphasizes its importance by making her work much more descriptive.
Interesting comments that I noted along the way:
-Rice notes that Christmas at the mall is the only place that some encounter the "sacred" in their lives and, sad though it is, at least there is that.
-She notes that there are, for her, two kinds of Christians: Christmas Christians (celebrations and joy) and Easter Christians (perserverance and struggle for the Faith). I've never thought of it that way but it something to ponder.
-She has serious thoughts about what she should do as a follower of Christ. This is a struggle for her and, I have to say, I've had my own struggles with this very issue. It was nice to hear a fellow Christian's thoughts.
-She was asked in an interview" "How has returning to Christ actually influenced your life?" Answer: "It demands of me that I love people."
She goes on to say: "To love my friends and to love my enemies. And the mystery was that loving my friends was sometimes harder than loving my enemies."
I laughed out loud and nearly cried at the same time at this one - so true and such a mystery of life.
This audiobook was brilliantly read by Kirsten Potter, and I am not using the term "brilliantly" lightly. She made this book her own as she read it and transported this listener with her voice. Amazing.
Rounding out the picture May 2, 2010
I found this a wonderful rounding out of the picture Of Anne's rediscovery of faith as begun in the foreword of "Christ the Lord: Out of Egypt."
Having never been a particular fan of vampire stories, I didn't read any of the earlier works, although at least one of my daughters and one of my granddaughters have read them extensively. I definitely am, however, a fan of novels relating to the life of Jesus, and as I've stated in my reviews of both "Out of Egypt" and "The Road to Cana", I greatly enjoyed both the depth of her historical development and the psychological, sociological and theological insights of these books, presented in a well-told story format.
Perhaps the highest compliment I can give this book is that after reading the chapters on her reminiscences of her early childhood, especially of the poetry and stories her mother shared with her and her sister, I was prompted to begin a small reminiscence of my own beginning with similar experiences with my own mother. This was a gift of inspiration of the highest order, and I was blessed by it.
No Surprises Here Apr 16, 2010
It doesn't surprise me in the least that Anne Rice has left the world of "darkness" to return to her Catholic roots. It's also no shock that she spends no time in this memoir explaining the "darkness" that she was in, because she would have to reject her body of work, something she refuses to do.
That's work like Belinda, in which an older man is in erotic thrall to a 16 year old girl (speaking of paedophiles), or the Beauty trilogy, with its endless litany of spankings, homosexual and heterosexual rapes, fistings, enemas, and creatively imagined and described tortures of sexual slaves, or the sadism and homoeroticism and ravishings laced through her vampire and witch stories. She did mention in one interview that if she was read at all in 200 years, it would be for the Beauty books. What artist is going to give up that kind of potential legacy for the church?
No worries, though; there's enough sadomasichistic eroticism in Catholicism to feed her imagination for the rest of her life. I'd guess that when she gets to the crucifixion, she'll lavish that keen eye for detail on every stroke of the scourge and blow of the hammer, much as Mel Gibson, another devout Catholic, did with his lens in The Passion of the Christ. Even in The Feast of All Saints, she describes in incredible detail the forcible castration of a teenaged, unwilling castrati (a boy church singer neutered to keep his voice pure). The one consistent theme in Rice's work is erotic power and submission, and the Catholic church has a rich heritage of that. The lives of the saints would be pay dirt, with all the flayings, rapes, piercing with arrows, grillings, upside down crucifixions, eye gouging, etc. of the martyrs. She hasn't left the darkness so much as merely changed the venue.
Anne Rice Explains It All Apr 16, 2010
I've read most of Anne Rice's books. This autobiographical explanation of why she left the Catholic Church and why she returned after three decades of avowed atheism was fascinating. I feel I understand Ms. Rice so much better now. Over the years she has brought me countless hours of reading entertainment. Her book, "Called Out of Darkness...." has now given me inspirational hope and guidance that transcends entertainment.
O LUMEN! O VIA! Apr 8, 2010
When I finished reading of this journey, I felt so inspired -- full of life's spirit! From the first chapter regarding, in many ways, pre-reading learning and knowledge, I was hooked. As the work continued it went from a reading experience to a personal encounter with an artist on a search for meaning. As with Augustine or Teresa of Avila or Dorothy Day, there was the unfolding of serious matter, but shared with delight while not taking oneself (the author) too seriously as to miss the very human element.
In Psalm 95 the author invites us to pray in this attitude: "O that today you would hear God's voice, harden not your heart." Anne Rice could not have been more transparent regarding her search for the Truth -- or the Meaning, as described so well by Victor Frankl. How does the Divine speak? For this author, surely through Beauty and color, through the values of trusted others, through following paths that seem honest but possibly unfulfilling, through study, and through keeping the eyes open from one's heart as well as one's intellect. In her life review she seems to have revisited persons, places and things, and opened her heart to the experiences that made her feel most alive. And, the happiest message is that she is willing to share that message with others, even if it is politically incorrect for some.
In her novels the careful readers, it seems to me, try to understand the metaphors taking place, and go deeper into the message of the volume. In this very different reading experience, there is no need to look for metaphors as she speaks so plainly and invitingly. Whether one can identify with her particular experience or insight (with regard to God within the context of the Catholic experience) is almost moot. In these days of high anxiety, wars aplenty, political correctness, random murders, failed relationships and so forth, it is refreshing to read of another's search, and a challenge to take up one's own work to find the deepest meanings in a happy life.
A final remark, somewhat tongue-in-cheek...! If I was the pope of Rome and was confronted with the issues of the day, I would call-in Anne Rice to be my up-beat Catherine of Siena. I would seek someone with her insight, experience, and love of the authentic Christian message to be my advisor. The Red Buttons cohort group is not doing so well, it seems, but an artist and novelist of great imagination could bring back to people the message of Jesus, even those who are not multi-degreed theologians who have developed their own gnosticism at the expense of sharing the faith. Thank you deeply, Anne! Through your Darkness we have found a great Light.