Thirteen years ago, novelist Anne Rice returned to her roots in the Roman Catholic Church. She has apparently now turned her back on the church that welcomed her home in 1998.

Blogger Mary Valle, shares many of the struggles about the Roman Catholic Church that troubled Anne Rice. Yet Valle has managed to remain within the fold.

On her blog “Communicant” Mary Valle recently discussed Rice’s decision to leave the church:

Valle explains the reasons for Rice’s departure as she understands them, saying,

Rice is peeved at some of her fellow Christians and their condemnation of some of her most cherished ideals—gayness, feminism, science, Democrats, etc. I sympathize with Rice’s struggle.

Valle’s sympathy with Anne Rice’s views then causes her to wonder:

Am I really a Catholic, given most of my views? Should I quit for good? Maybe I should just be a Unitarian after all! But where’s the fun in hanging out only with people who are exactly like you, anyway? Don’t we have room for differing points of view in the Mystical Body?

Mary Valle goes on to offer her reasons for staying in the church, despite her many misgivings.

I’ve been to church more in the past year than I have since leaving for college. I’m not just taking Pascal’s gamble—well, not solely. The church’s recent troubles (along with my own) actually seem to draw me closer. I suppose I like losing propositions. I root for underdogs, usher live insects outside, snatch mice from the jaws of my cats and set them free.

I still hate the music. Perhaps it’s just Stockholm Syndrome. But I think you’re supposed to love your captor in that case, and I can’t really say that I love being a Catholic. It’s just that nothing else seems to suffice. I will say that early-morning weekday Masses are quite to my liking. There’s a silent acknowledgment amongst the odd group assembled that we’re a people who know that life is hard, that death awaits us all, and that we need all the Help we can get.

It seems odd to me to be talking someone else into staying, but: Anne, I think you’re missing a great opportunity here. Quitting is the easier option. Go in the direction of discomfort, and see what happens. If everyone leaves, one of the biggest “we” situations on the planet will have diminished, and maybe along with it, humanity. But you’ll probably be back, anyway. Catholicism, to quote the terrible band Chicago, is a “hard habit to break.”

I like Mary Valle’s reasons for staying in a church with which she has such deep disagreement.

The church is a community of “underdogs.” We all find ourselves from time to time “under” some circumstance that feels overwhelming, even intolerable. We all suffer; we all need encouragement along the way. We need to gather in a place where we intentionally connect with other people who are willing to acknowledge that life is sometimes desperately difficult. We are enriched when we can share in a community where we encourage one another to look together in a common direction for “Help”.

I like Valle’s argument that to quit the church is to diminish “one of the biggest ‘we’ situations on the planet.” There are not many “we” situations left in the world. If you take away McDonalds, Starbucks, and Walmart, we are a pretty divided community. There are not many expressions of human community that cross the artificial boundaries of nationhood.

The world community is diminished when the only forces that unites us across ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic divides are those that are driven by economics.

We need an alternative voice. We need to hear words that hint at the ineffable, the mysterious, the hidden reality that has the power to bind us together in diverse human community beyond mere self-interest.

The human community needs a consistent voice capable of speaking in every language of the earth about letting go, self-sacrifice, compassion, and gentleness.

Religious institutions do not always do a good job at providing this alternative voice; but I do not know many other organizations that even try to fulfill such an important but elusive task.

If everyone who disagrees with some aspect of the church abandons the often difficult discipline of abiding with those with whom they disagree, even this fragile attempt at community reaching across boundaries will be lost. And Mary Valle is right – “the planet will have diminished, and maybe along with it, humanity.”