grace (eventually): thoughts on faith

graceeventually.jpggrace (eventually): thoughts on faith, by anne lamott

no question, i’m an annie lamott fan. more specifically, i’m a fan of anne lamott’s non-fiction. i’ve tried her fiction, and continue to find it ok, but not brilliant. but her non-fiction: ooh.

traveling mercies, lamott’s first autobiographical book about faith, remains in my top 5 books of all time (not that i actually maintain such a list; but if i did, it would be). and operating instructions, lamott’s autobiographical reflections on her pregnancy and the first couple years of her son’s life, should be suggested reading for all humans, and required reading for all parents (especially expectant parents). lamott’s last non-fiction, plan b, was a bit of a let-down. i really wanted to love it. so i found myself loving parts.

but, other than a horribly repetitive titling and cover treatment (and, really, that’s more of a publisher’s gaffe than a reason to wag my finger at anne lamott), grace (eventually) brings us back nearly to traveling mercies (notice i say “nearly”). yes, some have complained that this book is another collection of mostly already-published essays. i say: i don’t care. they’re great; they hold together; and i hadn’t read them elsewhere anyhow.

why do i love lamott’s writing so much? well, i can’t deny the fact that she makes me laugh out loud. and they’re not those “slowly creep up on you laughs” that move from smile to tiny “huh” sound to low chuckle to pleasant and appropriate laugh. no: my occasional laughter while reading anne lamott is more the out-of-the-blue cackle, one that surprises me as much as it would anyone within painful earshot.

reason two for loving anne lamott’s non-fiction: she is unevenly insightful. what i mean is, there are moments when i’m reading, and i have to stop and breathe for a moment, and think about the profundity of what i’ve just read. and then there are lots of moments in-between those moments that aren’t so insightful. but here’s the thing — the uneven-ness of the insighfulness somehow works. it’s almost as if it creates a reading culture where the insights catch me off guard that much more. i’m always hopeful of stumbling onto them, but never quite expecting them when they appear.

reason three for loving anne lamott’s non-fiction: there are books — maybe 1 in 30 books i read, where the very act of reading is joy. the choice of words, the structure of sentences, the odd metaphor, they leave me smiling or astonished. christopher moore writes this way. anne lamott writes this way.

6 thoughts on “grace (eventually): thoughts on faith”

  1. I’m reading that book right now, she’s amazing. Her honesty at what a mess she is, although still a Christ-follower, is inspiring.

  2. I love Annie as well and am hoping every year that you might tag her to speak at one of the NYWC … she is an inspiring and honest speaker.

  3. betsy — we had her speak at the national pastors convention and emergent convention a few yeas ago. she was fun to have, but REALLY expensive!

  4. Yeah … I thought she was probably pretty pricey! Too bad you “wasted” the big money on the pastors, she seems much more a youthworker person. I love her little riff on who youthworkers are in Plan B, keep in pinned above my desk at work/church to remind me why I keep doing what I’m doing! (And seriously, how geeky are we that we are on our computers this much?) I’ll see you in St. Louis in November … Annie or not!

  5. marko

    i dont know if you check comments in old posts… but what are your “top 10 most helpful/provoking books for youth worker/pastor”

    you may have already posted something like this, and you may also try to avoid questions like this because (1) they are cliche and (2) your list is probably always changing… but i would still like to know..

  6. Marko –
    Just chiming in with an “I love Anne Lamott too!” I think I’ve read (devoured, really) all but this latest of her non-fiction and will re-read them some time. I’ve purposely not read her fiction because I’m afraid it would taint my opinion of her.

    I can totally relate to the “laugh out loud” factor. She is brazenly candid about how messed up we humans are and brings to the surface some realizations about my own thoughts that I didn’t previously know were true about myself. I also like Donald Miller’s writing for this reason.

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