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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith Paperback – Feb 15 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; Anchor Books ed edition (Feb. 15 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385496095
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385496094
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 204 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (243 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #44,358 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From Amazon

For most writers, the greatest challenge of spiritual writing is to keep it grounded in concrete language. The temptation is to wander off into the clouds of ethereal epiphanies, only to lose readers with woo-woo thinking and sacred-laced clichés. Thankfully, Anne Lamott (Operating Instructions, Crooked Little Heart) knows better. In this collection of essays, Lamott offers her trademark wit and irreverence in describing her reluctant journey into faith. Every epiphany is framed in plainspoken (and, yes, occasionally crassly spoken) real-life, honest-to-God experiences. For example, after having an abortion, Lamott felt the presence of Christ sitting in her bedroom:
This experience spooked me badly, but I thought it was just an apparition born of fear and self-loathing and booze and loss of blood. But then everywhere I went I had the feeling that a little cat was following me, wanting me to reach down and pick it up, wanting me to open the door and let it in. But I knew what would happen: you let a cat in one time, give it a little milk and then it stays forever.
Whether she's writing about airplane turbulence, bulimia, her "feta cheese thighs," or consulting God over how to parent her son, Lamott keeps her spirituality firmly planted in solid scenes and believable metaphors. As a result, this is a richly satisfying armchair-travel experience, highlighting the tender mercies of Lamott's life that nudged her into Christian faith. --Gail Hudson --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly

A key moment in the step-by-step spiritual awakening of the author came to her as a freshman in college when an impassioned professor taught her Kierkegaard's Fear and Trembling. Raised by her bohemian California family to believe only in "books and music and nature," Lamott (Bird by Bird; Operating Instructions) was enthralled by the Danish philosopher's rendition of the biblical story of Abraham and Isaac. Abraham, Lamott learned, so trusted in God's love that he was willing to follow the order to sacrifice his own son. This story pierced Lamott and she "crossed over. I don't know how else to put it or how and why I actively made, if not exactly a leap of faith, a lurch of faith.... I left class believing?accepting?that there was a God." Nonetheless, it would take the heartbreak of her father's death and more than a dozen years of escalating drug and alcohol addiction to bring Lamott to fully embrace Christianity. In a short autobiography and 24 vignettes that appeared in earlier versions in the online magazine Salon, Lamott blends raw emotional honesty with self-mocking goofiness to show how the faith she has cultivated at St. Andrew Presbyterian Church in the poor community of Marin City, Calif., translates into her everyday life and friendships, especially into her relationship with her young son, Sam. Although Lamott's clever style sometimes feels too calculated, the best bits here memorably convey the peace that can descend when a sensitive, modern woman accepts the love of God with her own brand of fear and trembling. First serial to Mirabella; author tour. Agent, Chuck Verrill.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on Jan. 19 2004
Format: Paperback
Super, super, super.
I can't say it any better than many of the other reviews I've read of this book, so I'm just going to second all the five star reviews in this collection.
Anne Lamott did me the supreme honor of offering to write a cover blurb for my own book, so I owe her big time. But even if she'd not done me, a first time author, this supreme honor, I would kiss her toes and paint them with sparkle glitter green polish for having written this nitty-gritty, HONEST, shining and quirky book about her own journey to faith.
I have to share my favorite line (paraphrasing, cuz I can't find it right this minute...): I'm not going to tell you what I really thought of that woman in her Lycra bicycle shorts, because if I did, it'd make Jesus drink gin straight out of the cat's dish.
You've gotta love her. I just wish she lived next door.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Book Spy on March 12 2010
Format: Paperback
I had high hopes for this book as it was highly recommended by a friend -- I was deeply disappointed. It's hard to tell what was more annoying...her constant self-indulgence, her self-conscious writing style, or her adolescent political views. I bought this book because I wanted to read something spiritually uplifting, something to give me some insight as my own relationship with God develops; however, there was no spiritual insight in this book at all. There was very little about God...just the writer going on and on and on about herself writing I did this and I did that and aren't I clever! It was like watching a bad actor alone on stage. What a waste of money this one was.
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By A Customer on June 16 2004
Format: Paperback
Until I read Anne Lamott I associated the word "Christian" with holier-than-thou, priggish, etc. Now I see clearly that that's just a stereotype. It IS possible for a Christian to be a liberal with a wicked sense of humor.
Lamott isn't afraid to present herself in a less than flattering light whether it's secretly hating her mom or yelling out of frustration at her young son. We all do these things, but most of us prefer to show the world the "good" side of ourselves. Lamott is wonderful when it comes to making the everyday petty irritations of life funny, so that you empathize with her rather than judging.
Lamott writes about children, her friends, relatives and church. She writes about the competitiveness that can develop among parents of young children, and she writes about the path she took to becoming sober. Unlike some reviewers, I don't think it's going to be detrimental to her later relationship with her son when she makes him go to church. There could be a lot worse things she could force him to do.
In one essay, she writes about feeling unattractive after standing with a group of teenage girls waiting for a bus back to her hotel. Then she realizes that no one in the group is probably satisfied with her body, and this is something I've started to tell myself when I find myself in that kind of situation, too.
This atheist gives this book two thumbs up.
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Format: Paperback
Overall, this book is entertaining and engaging. I echo the opinions of other reviewers in saying that Anne Lamott's honesty and transparency in her descriptions of her internal and external life are refreshing and endearing. I also understand the sentiments of some of the reviewers who found her irreverance, well, too irreverant. She is a self-proclaimed "drama queen" and lives up to that title and then some. Usually her "drama queeniness" is hilarious, because you can tell that her supposed self-centeredness comes from a constant need to prove herself (as she herself admits). She says that she has a superiority complex rooted in an inferiority complex.
People who have trouble with this book are wanting to make Anne Lamott a role model instead of a story teller. We can certainly learn from the authenticity and self-awareness shown in the way she tells her stories in this book. She does not shy away from the less flashy aspects of faith--doubt, sin, suffering, etc. and that is what makes this book realistic and honest. She is not writing a story about how we should live our lives, and it is wrong to take that book in this way. But in the end it is a real and engaging story of love and relationships; between her and God, her son, friends, the church, family, and life. It is greatly entertaining, and a refreshing look into someone's life who is as open with her blemishes as with her crowns.
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Format: Paperback
...and let's face it, if there's one thing we need more of, it's feelgood stuff where God is credited with performing 'miracles' that don't actually involve anyone getting healed of an incurable disease.
Actually this book is quite readable and good fun. Some of it is charming. There's a surprising amount of humourous self-reflection that reminded me more of Bridget Jones's Diary than anything else, but such is the nature of trendy Christian thought, apparently.
Particularly illuminating is the old joke about the guy who crash lands in the snow, complains about how God didn't rescue him, and, when reminded that he is in fact alive to tell the tale, says that it was because some Eskimo came along and saved him. We laugh because we are so used to Christian apologists using the 'mysterious ways' ploy, so we all know it was really God that sent the Eskimo, right? Lamott parrots this one without a comment. It would have been interesting to see her think about it a little; I'm disappointed that she accepts something so fatuous at face value.
This is good to read on a plane or a beach. You'll enjoy it, toss it aside, and never think about it again.
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