"Anne Lamott is walking proof that a person can be both
reverent and irreverent in the same lifetime.Sometimes even in the same breath."-San Franciso Chronicle
I'm reading Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. It's allowing me to see a lot of things in a new light. Have you seen the website Lost in Translation? You type an English phrase, it translates the phrase directly to several other languages and then back to English, with no allowances for nuance or context. The results can be quite funny, a lot like the Telephone game I played as a kid (or was it called Gossip Chain? Maybe that was the Sunday-School-Moral-of-the-Story version).
Reading anything by Anne Lammot is a lot like that game. She writes about topics that are familiar to me (church, spirituality, Bible, Jesus) but her descriptions are so "foreign" to me, I feel like I'm reading about new subjects entirely. Her life experiences are so far removed from my life experiences as a home schooled church-girl that my conclusions are challenged at every turn. I pick up the book with my own ideas on forgiveness, prayer, love, doubt, grief and self-image. When filtered through the "translation" of Lamott's writing, the result is almost unrecognizable.
I find this enormously refreshing.
I've become so sick of my version of Christianity, how I understand faith, and what's required of a person who claims to be spiritual, that I've ducked out of it altogether. Like being at a party where I'm forced to face people I'd rather not interact with, talk about subjects that are unimportant to me and exude a general social-good-naturedness, I've made enough excuses to slip out the back door unnoticed, go home early, and skip the whole uncomfortable thing.
But Anne Lamott is making me reconsider. She describes a believable Jesus. And I don't necessarily mean A Jesus I Can Put My Faith In, I just mean Jesus as a person I can accept as having actually existed. Maybe even, given the right circumstances, someone I might consider hanging out with. And that's saying a lot because Jesus As I Imagine Him is not so appealing. Childhood make-believe, bedtime stories, and Bible verses are all so intertwined that it's hard not to view God as a phase to grow out of. Biblical truths via flannel graph rank right alongside building forts out of couch cushions or flooding my old sandbox with the garden hose: fun at the time, but no longer relevant, no longer enjoyable.
Now I've discovered this adult woman who writes about faith like she means it. The Chicago Sun-Times describes her as
"the religious queen of crankiness; she's Christianity's Howard Stern - a swearing spiritual pundit who prays for redemption but brags about her offenses."That doesn't sound like child's play.
I'm going to go read.