Good Christian woman that I am (hold the snickering), I cannot tell a lie: when I began reading my first encounter with Anne Lamott, my prim religious senses were immediately accosted by her slightly off-hue world. In fact, once I realized she all but hated Republicans, I very nearly put the book down.
But if I were to not read a book I was actually interested in reading, because the author had a severe prejudice against a group of peoples in the name of loving all people, then I’d be no better than Anne.
I’m not sure what prompted me to select her book, nor am I quite sure why I found it in the section usually reserved for Christian encouragement; only that I had heard her name, had no idea who she was, and am too nosey not to find out.
I was ill prepared to be offended by her, even less prepared to be enamored.
The truth is, her truth is skewed. But if I were to judge her based solely on whether or not she knows what she is talking about, I’d have to look in the mirror. The common ground I find myself on with her, when differences seem to loom, is that neither of us seems to know what we are doing and both of us wants to do something to please Jesus and love people.
I’m far too removed from the “typical good Christian”, if there is such a thing, to tell her she’s doing it all wrong. She’s doing some of it wrong, her theology needs some brushing up, but she’s doing some. Some talk about Jesus is better than no talk. Some pointing to God is better than no pointing. Some reference to peace and love, at the extreme expense of past Republican presidents, is I guess, better than no reference.
The thing about her is, she’s sixty years old (or was when she wrote the book I read) and has dreadlocks. That right there kind of makes me want to hear her thoughts. The other thing is, she has insight on some really genius observations. She says things like, “They are willing to redefine themselves, and life, and okayness…” when speaking about friends who have to live- or die- with unfavorable circumstances. That line alone spoke volumes to my rigid soul and child-like need to have my way. Because, if we want peace, don’t we all?
But then she comes out in the next chapter, guns blazing, discussing the “missing book in the bible” which must have been the lost book of welcome to all people full of faith, hope, and love. The irony here is, of course, that the bible is the welcome book. The entire thing, cover to cover, is how to have faith, hope, and love and thereby live your best life. Ever. Period. I have a sense that Miss Lamott likes her Christianity where she can see it, on the left side of accurate.
Yet even that didn’t deter me from reading the words she carefully selected to make up the book she managed to publish, because there were moments of humor, delight, brilliance, and vulnerability. She is open about her extreme humanness and transparent with her less than favorable thoughts, and I really like that in a person- in an author. Her belittlement of particular people and particular political parties shines light on the unfortunate truth that she is prejudice to a fault; even as she does it in the name of an anti-prejudiced culture. And sure, red flags were raised throughout the entire reading of her book… but my unwillingness to hear something I don’t agree with would put me smack dab in the middle of Anne Lamott and her radical pals.
I’d rather hangout with Jesus.
So I read it. And for the most part, I enjoyed it. And I’m sure, given the right circumstances, I’d even considering reading another one of her many published pieces. I’d read her for curiosity purposes, as much as to prove to myself that I am not near her level of falsehood and reproachful passive aggression towards anyone who doesn’t agree with everything I find important.
I’d read her for entertainment. Still, despite her apparent blindness to the entire context of the religion she aligns herself with, I will always find the truth about faith, hope, and love securely in the binding of my pretty, aqua bible.
What’s your take on her? Know her? Read her?