Monday, July 03, 2006

Book 44: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Anne Lamott is most notably the author of Traveling Mercies.   That book was something of a spiritual biography as she wrote about her life having come to find a faith in Christ after years of drug abuse and bad decisions.  But her faith is not that which the average person or the average Christian would think of when they consider "faith in Christ".  Perhaps Lamott is more honest than most in that she willingly admits her prejudices, faults, and failings.  Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith is less memoir and more a collection of 24 essays regarding different aspects of her personal faith as told in a humorous and down to earth, salt of the earth manner.  She writes about screaming at her son and her desire to hit people with a wide variety of objects.  She writes about finding little bits of grace in unexpected and perhaps unwanted places in her life.  She writes about not forgiving her mother for years after she had died.  She writes about the grace in being able to give someone from her church a ham when the woman wasn't able to afford gas or food money.  Lamott writes with frankness, with attitude, with humor, and gets to the heart of Christian life roundabout ways. 


This isn't to say that Plan B is a perfect book, because I far prefer Traveling Mercies.  This is more an essay collection than a continuous narrative, and I would have preferred the narrative, but that's my prejudice.  My real gripe is Lamott's constant sniping at President George W. Bush.  You don't like him.  You don't approve.  We know.  It's obvious.  Enough, already.  Lamott doesn't build a case against Bush, not to any great extent, because this book and these essays aren't about that.  It's little pot shots that she admits is something she is working on in the "not hating" category.  It makes her human, but it's too much.  I didn't even vote for the man and it's too much.  Maybe once or twice and essay (or every three essays, but it feels like more) does a comment fly out.  It's distracting. 


But let me go back to the grace that Lamott finds bits of...


This is a decent book, but not the powerful work that Traveling Mercies is.  Anne Lamott is, and seems to be, an Earthy Christian.  She is of this world, is grounded in reality (though she may dispute that herself), and brings one heck of a perspective to Christianity.  She's not the contemplative that a Kathleen Norris is, but both are favorite authors for the Christian/Spiritual writing.  Given the choice to find an entry point to Anne Lamott, I would have to recommend Traveling Mercies instead.  Plan B is good, Traveling Mercies is better. 

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