Wednesday, January 8, 2003

Christianity Today chats with Annie Lamott

She came to Jesus just as she was—a foul-mouthed, bulimic, alcoholic drug addict. One week after having an abortion, she surrendered to him in her very own version of the sinner's prayer, punctuated with the f-word.

When I recently called Anne Lamott—the funny, nutty, fast-talking, born-again author whose books include Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, Traveling Mercies, and most recently Blue Shoe—the same earthy candor came through.

To be sure, Lamott is a hard-core liberal. I disagree with her on many fronts, for example with her belief that personhood doesn't start at conception. Yet, deeper within her than her loud liberalism is a reality that has won her many evangelical readers: a zany ardor for Jesus. Lamott's fascination with all things Jesusy (a term she might as well have copyrighted) must be the reason why she is a mixed bag of hilariously antagonistic affections

.....Then Lamott is back to what she does best: proclaiming the grace of God. "But there wasn't a single thing that I'd do that Jesus would say, 'Forget it, you're out, I've had it with you, try Buddha!'

Now, even if you have problems with Lamott for whatever reason you might, you really have to admit that this last statement is one to sort of stop you in your tracks and force you to re-evaluate your sense of what faith is all about and how tempting it is for religiously-minded folk to decree that other sinners (whose sins are, somehow, worse than the religious folks' sins) must be, have to be, cut off from God's grace.

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