Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

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9780679442400: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
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From the bestselling author of Operating Instructions and Bird by Bird comes a chronicle of faith and spirituality that is at once tough, personal, affectionate, wise and very funny.

With an exuberant mix of passion, insight, and humor, Anne Lamott takes us on a journey through her often troubled past to illuminate her devout but quirky walk of faith. In a narrative spiced with stories and scripture, with diatribes, laughter, and tears, Lamott tells how, against all odds, she came to believe in God and then, even more miraculously, in herself. She shows us the myriad ways in which this sustains and guides her, shining the light of faith on the darkest part of ordinary life and exposing surprising pockets of meaning and hope.

Whether writing about her family or her dreadlocks, sick children or old friends, the most religious women of her church of the men she's dated, Lamott reveals the hard-won wisdom gathered along her path to connectedness and liberation.

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Review:

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

From the Publisher:

"Can Anne Lamott get any better? It hardly seems possible. After three books that have enjoyed both critical and commercial success, she now turns her attention to perhaps her most powerful subject yet, her faith in God. Traveling Mercies is an account of both her conversion experience and her attempts to lead a faithful life. Hilarious and genuinely moving, it is her best book yet. . .The essays in Traveling Mercies address serious and often grim subject matter: making sense of the grave illnesses that have struck several of Lamott's friends; learning to accept suffering; practicing true Christian forgiveness and love. Yet Lamott has a magic toch with this tough material. She can render almost any situation indecently, riotously funny, then turn around on a dime and find the lesson in it, find exactly how God has worked his (or her--Lamott is big on inclusive language) way into every moment of her life, no matter how painful and bleak. Never preachy, often reminding us not to take her too seriously...Lamott's essays could give an atheist pause. . . It is to Lamott's credit that she has taken what may be the last truly "private" subject and written about it with such ease and grace. She shares everything about her faith, from the two best prayers she knows ("Help me, help me, help me" and "Thank you, thank you, thank you") to the time God appeared to her as a physical presence on one of her darkest nights. . . In truth, she uses her books as a means of exploring questions much larger than herself. She has written powerfully on some of life's most important subjects: motherhood, work, faith. One can only wonder what she will write about next--and hope that she will do it very soon."
--Caitlin Flanagan, San Francisco Chronicle

"If you're stuck in an elevator when the Big One hits, you couldn't do much better than be stranded there with Anne Lamott. In a pinch, even her latest book, a collection of funny, warm, and sagacious personal essays. . . could get you through the dark hours. . . How much, and how little, faith can change us is Lamott's real theme. In meditations on her bulimia, her natty hair, her irritation with her aging, much-loved mother, she makes it clear that she is the same old Annie she always was, with the same insecurities and quirks. She doesn't wake up in a pool of sunlight every morning. But her faith provides an outlook on life that is less selfish than the one she would normally resort to. . . What saves Lamott's stories from sentimentality is is her ability to face truly taboo subjects, like envy and maternal competitiveness. Instead of a rose garden, she presents us with a scraggly, half-planted patch of earth--a real garden, with mounds of fresh soil and a steaming compost heap. One senses that Lamott, like most of us, is just working through things. Some flowers will get trampled or blighted, but others will burst into bloom. What remains with the reader are her tenderness and generosity. She gives enormous credit to her friends and family, to the old women at her church, to the authors she has read and to that "someone listening."
-- Regina Marler, Los Angeles Times

"It's like having a coffee with a cranky, funny, chatty hilarious friend... It's a wonderful book."
--Diane Sawyer, Good Morning America

"Hilarious... Anne Lamott has got the sort of heart that takes the chill out of the winter air. Like the rising tide, it floats all boats. This writer is tough. Tough on the world, tough on herself as well. Faith, for me, is not a place I've landed. It's a cliff I run off. You get the whole journey here. Lamott falls off the cliff, comes back brilliant, generous and funny. This is C.S. Lewis in Surprised by Joy. Only better."
--Ben Cheever, San Jose Mercury News

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780385496094: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

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ISBN 10: 0385496095 ISBN 13: 9780385496094
Publisher: Anchor, 2000
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9780965070959: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Pantheon, 1999
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9780786219612: Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith

Thornd..., 1999
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9780375408809: Traveling Mercies

Pantheon, 1999
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