Some months ago, on John J. Miller’s radio webcast Between the Covers, Miller interviewed Anne Rice on her book Called Out of Darkness, which you can hear here. You may know of Anne Rice by her Vampire Chronicles series. Her “prodigal” story is fascinating and moving, and the interview is worth your time.
After two thousand years of such testimonies, I still find them extraordinary. Rebellious children return to their forgiving and patient father, reenacting over and over again the parable in life lived and in life suffered. These stories remind me of the line from the film Shadowlands where Lewis and one of his students share an intimate learning moment wherein Lewis states that we read to know that we are not alone. It is quite a striking thesis that has continued to move me whenever I reflect upon it. How obvious it is that human beings from all ages and lands face the same limitations, turmoils, temptations, and pains, and, yet, we in our self-absorption easily forget to remember that insight. Encounters in books with the struggles of other souls remind us of this truth and assure us that, yes, indeed, our particular path has been tread before and that, yes, groundless hopes may yet be more than irrational flights into the fog of unknowing night. Of course, such consolation comes only with trust in the speaker, and the lack of that trust is what underlies our fearful alienation and restlessness in the first place. Nonetheless, faith becomes more acceptable, at least to me, when buttressed by the concrete supports of fellow pilgrims’ experiences. For such a contribution, I am thankful for Anne Rice.