Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grace Notes

I've been reading Lamott and L'Engle simultaneously. These are both woman who are excellent wordsmiths, committed to faith, service, and love. And yet, my response and take-away to both is so fundamentally different.

When I read Lamott I am pulled into the grit of life, exposed to situations, language and realities that magnify that milk-toast aspects of my own. I relate to Lamott's writing because I was an adult before I considered myself a Christian and besides writing about the raggedy arse conflict of life without faith, she also writes of California, which I love. She writes of Northern California, which I love more. And she writes of working out her faith with fear and trembling. I basically fear and tremble and hope to God my faith is getting worked out. While you won't find that method being touted at seminary,  it's the one most often adapted by humans I know.

I like Lamott's writing very much, though her flippancy with colorful euphemisms has caused me to fall off the potty mouth band-wagon more than once. Don't worry, I'm working my program.

In any of L'Engle's work you will not find one single swear word, one single mention of drugs or illicit sex or working your program. There is an innocence and an elegance that flows through her pen. Her vocabulary and understanding of the deep magic- rooted in theology, space, science and words- leaves you with the feeling that you've touched something golden. L'Engle believed that God's love, His LOVE, welcomes everyone in, and for that her work is not welcome in many Christian bookstores. Not doctrinally sound, you know.  Though if you read enough of her work, you understand that her theology is not casual or flippant or doctrinally unsound but an outworking of her own tremblings.

Both of these women understand grace, get grace, embrace grace, write about grace, serve up grace. I like that in a word-smith. Yes, I do.


Lillian said...

I love L'Engle, I'm not familiar with Lamott but it sounds like I need to become familiar with her. Are you talking about Anne Lamott? (Yes I Googled her and found some quotes by an Anne Lamott that I really like).

I definitely understand the idea of "fear and tremble and [hoping] to God my faith is getting worked out." I wish our bible schools and seminaries would cover this. There are so many people who find themselves questioning their walk because they are questioning that fear and trembling.

So in your opinion which Lamott book should I start with?

LaughingLioness said...

I like (Anne) LaMott's non-fiction unquestionably. Her fiction can be a lot more dicey. Several of her non-fiction books are essays on faith. Great musings. I also just finished her fiction "Imperfect Birds." Great fiction- but really raunchy lives of "normal" Americans. She captures the despair and lack of being rooted in something more grand and bigger than ourselves- kind of a cultural study on a west coast family. Be prepared for lots of swearing and immoral living.