Sunday, January 31, 2010

Anne Lamott and Religious Inquiry

Recently I discussed Anne Lamott with a few avid readers. We had all come to the session having read, Traveling Mercies and Plan B (Further Thoughts on Faith).

Here are a few of the quotes that struck me most for the teaching session and a few notes of my own mixed in.

From TM, Forgiveness, "I thought such awful thoughts that I cannot even say them out loud because they would make Jesus want to drink gin straight out of the cat dish" (131).

From PlanB, holy of holies 101, "I know that with writing, you start where you are, and you flail around for a while, and if you keep doing it, every day you get closer to something good" (61).

I like Anne because I can read her stuff in chunks. She talks about small short assignments for each of us as writers and she gives us short assignments as readers. I'll be honest, I struggle with 300 page novels. I'm ashamed of the novels I don't finish. But with Anne, I check off a story and before I know it, I have checks next to each story and the book is complete.

I re-read her stuff more than most books on my shelf. I only do this with my favorite and most compelling words, like the Bible. She is worth a second and fifth read.

From TM, Sister, "Most of what we do in wordly life is geared toward our staying dry, looking good, not going under. But in baptism, in lakes and rain and tanks and fonts, you agree to do something that's a little sloppy because at the same time it's also holy, and absurd. It's about surrender, giving in to all those things we can't control; it's a willingness to let go of balance and decorum and get drenched (231).

Anne’s real. She tells the truth. When I say truth, I don’t mean to say that she is the final word on much of anything. That’s no longer my definition of truth, if it ever was. Truth is what is real and honest, what grapples with the dark places and courageously tells the story not as we would like it to be or wish it would be, but as it is for us today. You know when you are hearing this truth and you know when you are not. Frederick Buechner says that writing is simple, sit down to the typewriter and open a vein. That’s pretty much true. Let your soul come flooding out and see if anyone has something to say back. I hope that faithfully we are not waiting for the world to respond, though that may happen, but trusting that God will respond to our truth.

Listen to an interview with Anne Lamott at:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhP5GmybvPM
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