on January 19, 2004
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.
on June 16, 2004
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.
on December 26, 2003
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.
on August 26, 2003
...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.
on August 10, 2003
Each time I read another of Anne Lamott's works, I think it is my all time favorite, until I read the next one. Traveling Mercies is now my favorite. Anne Lamott is one of the most genuine and brutally honest authors I have read.
I am not a religious person, and in fact much the opposite, but I loved this book. I loved the way Anne fully admits that she does not "conform" to the traditional ideology of Christianity, and yet Jesus loves her anyway. I love the writing about her son Sam, her lost friend Pammy . . . all the people who have touched her life in one way or another. All of these people make her look deeper inside herself, and also to God, for answers and solutions to problems that we all face every single day. Of course, her sense of humor also plays a part in this book, as I don't think it's possible to read Anne Lamott without reading her sense of humor. It would just be wrong!
Traveling Mercies touches on the issues that we all have with feeling "not good enough" or like a failure; and how to overcome those things through the stark realizations that flash before our eyes now and then and also through humor.
Truly, if I had one wish on this earth before my life runs out, I would wish to meet her and be a part of her life . . . and after reading Traveling Mercies I can see that she is even more of a loving and compassionate person than I had already assumed. Beautiful writing of a beautiful, though messy at times, life.
I admire Anne for being a Christian but for also accepting others in their own faith, no matter what that faith may be. I think that, truly, this should be a required read for anyone who is a Christian . . . a lesson in acceptance because none of us are perfect and none of us will ever believe exactly the same things because we are all so shaped by our life experiences. Anne Lamott is truly beautifully amazing, and I recommend this book, and all of her others, to everyone.
on July 11, 2003
Anne Lamott, author of 'Bird by Bird,' 'Hard Laughter,' 'Operating Instructions' and 'Blue Shoe' has written this personal account on her journey of faith and spirituality. Her leap of faith in everyday life braves the challenge of leaping across the abyss of doubt with fear and trembling. She recalls from Micah...and what does the Lord require of you, but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with God. Both a divine human comedy and error of Christ-like suffering and passion with a penance for honest and wise sense of humor that has raw courage to spill it out on the page.
If you're still struggling with faith and you've tried source books after another. Then I'd recommend Ms. Lamott's 'Traveling Mercies.' Lamott tells it like it is with a been there, done that kind-of-spirit who wasn't afraid of living life but still loved God with all the passion and yearning. She shares her life with open insight and truly genuine faith in raising her son Sam, the relationships with her family, old friends, women of her church and men she dated. She tells us in a vibrant, warm and funny way in her journey of faith that sustains and guides her. Traveling through as a shining light in the darkest of life and exposing her inner well of meaning and hope. Lamott is a cross between Erma Bombeck, Cyndi Lauper and Ruth Graham. Well, sort of. If you're trying to find your walk of faith and what to understand in an honest, wise straightforwardness approach to the ups-and-downs of daily living Ms. Lamott can be your friend. My top recommendation on real faith.
on August 19, 2002
I can't fault this book, only praise it. For who else has written in such a unique way about a faith journey? Lamott makes it real (for someone of her age [middle-aged] and from a definitely Californian point of view.) But, her observations and the way she writes about them are universal. And funny.
If you can't laugh at yourself, your foibles, and even at God, don't read this--you'll start feeling self-righteous and will be quickly entering a "how dare she?" review. You will, of course, have totally missed the point.
Everyone can learn something about the way LIFE has a sneaky way of surfacing painful and joyous memories and feelings. These emotions are triggered by life's details, which Lamott expertly captures. She finds the most unassuming triggers to release a flood of feelings about various topics. The stories she tells are God-given, precious moments. Perhaps we don't "see" these moments and reflect on them enough in our lives. Is that why Lamott touches us? Thankfully, she remind us that they are there.
Read and savor this book, if you are open to what makes someone an imperfect person--and a Christian.
on March 25, 2002
In this quirky insightful memoir, Lamott reveals a remarkable range of emotional aptitude. Ranging from the ridiculous to the sublime, her spiritual flounderings might be amusing were it not for the deeply painful or exuberantly gratifying circumstances under which her understanding of her place in the universe steadily evolves. Anne Lamott is a mother who prays. She says, "Here are the two best prayers I know:"Help me, help me, help me," and "Thank you, thank you, thank you." She then tells us that ,"A woman I know says, for her morning prayer, "Whatever," and then for the evening, "Oh, well,".........When all of the theology and dogma are rinsed from the muddied waters of religion, those four prayers (help me, thank you, whatever, and oh, well) will be visible in the sands below for anyone snorkeling by to celebrate. Funky faith stories whose author courageously tells us more than we deserve to know about Anne Lamott will continue to circulate this book from one spiritual seeker to another.
on October 29, 2001
Anne Lamott's thoughts on faith are an alternative to the "how to be a better Christian" alternatives we find in our Christian bookstores. Many of us feel weary of trying to become "the perfect Christian" when it is actually an impossible feat. I appreciate Ms. Lamott's honest reflections about her life and her faith.
However, I wish liberal Christians could see that they can still be political, social, and economic liberals without supporting abortion. Jeremiah 1:5 says: "Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sacrificed thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations." Psalm 139 should also be considered.
The only thing that makes a person a Christian is our faith in Jesus Christ as Saviour. (John 3:16) That is all! It is that easy. But after salvation, why do Christians choose only bits and pieces of the bible to believe as truth? If I could ask the talented Ms. Lamott one thing, that would be it. Why pick and choose?
Anne Lamott's commentary of the Old Testament story of Abraham and Isaac is alone worth buying the book for.
on August 16, 2001
If I were inclined to buy some billboard space, the first thing I would do would be to spread the letters of Anne Lamott's name and her Traveling Mercies title as joyously as if I were paving the staircase to Heaven with my two hands. Anne Lamott allows her personal history, a newly-found and budding faith, and personal experiences to collide in Traveling Mercies, without letting her personality slip out the back door. She writes on topics we all know: family. Loss of loved ones. The joys and perils of parenthood. And, of course, her "aunties": the thighs that follow her around like a pair of loving aunts. After reading Traveling Mercies, I was amazed at the clarity of a point she makes: Christians can screw up. (Gasp!) Yes, believers have their doubts occasionally. And some of us repeat the same sins and the same mistakes countless times. Anne Lamott is willing to admit it. What a breath of fresh air. And that isn't the only breeze blowing through Lamott's text. She's witty, insightful, sarcastic, and blatantly honest. Finally. Someone who's willing to admit their faults, credit their faith with guiding them through life, and occasionally spout -- unapologetically, nonetheless -- the ever-universal F word. If you're looking for a book to satisfy a craving for entertainment, Traveling Mercies gives a heaping helping -- with a little dose of faith instruction on the side. Three cheers for Anne Lamott! Now, about that billboard . . .