The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


'Grace,' Lamott's way

It shows up almost every day

The newest book by Anne Lamott, whose spiky attitude combines reverence and irreverence, wicked humor and loving humility, is out in paperback. Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith (Riverhead Books, 2008) tells of her many sins, including earlier alcoholism and drug use. Lamott became sober more than 20 years ago after she started attending a Presbyterian congregation in northern California where she’s a member.

Grace (Eventually)Lamott finds grace in common experiences: She fights with her teenage son; she dances with disabled people; she tries to quiet her Sunday school class; she comes to terms with her dead mother; and she binges on apple fritters and ice cream when she feels overwhelmed.

Some of the essays in Grace deal with forgiveness. One tells about her purchase of a carpet remnant for the church. The salesman cheated her, and she is never able to right the situation. Yet she overcomes her anger and forgives him.

Several of the selections describe hikes with her dog, Lily. In one, Lamott picks up droppings from all the other hikers’ dogs. In another, she’s ticketed for letting Lily off-leash. Lily runs away, in a third, and just at Lamott’s moment of greatest panic, a friend appears unexpectedly and helps calm her.

Lamott loves hikes and walks, and she’ll set off when she’s in the midst of a frustrating experience. About one, she writes: “I went for a walk: that is what Jesus always did. He gave crazy people some space. He would say, ‘Go ahead. You’re a mess. Go be a mess. Work it out. We’ll talk again.’ ”

She is a very political writer—expressing outrage at injustices she perceives. She angers some readers, delights others and generally just plunges ahead, buoyed up by her admittedly imperfect faith.


iris laflamme

iris laflamme

Posted at 9:08 am (U.S. Eastern) 6/20/2008

Dear Editors,

I guess my comment is more of a question. I am confused by the phrase: "buoyed up by her admittedly imperfect faith". I understand how we can be buoyed by our faith despite our imperfections. Is this what the author meant? If our faith is a gift from God, how can it be imperfect, whether it is the size of a mustard seed or the size of a mountain?

Thank you.  idbl


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