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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by…
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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith (original 1999; edition 2000)

by Anne Lamott (Author)

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4,103592,136 (4.05)64
From the bestselling author ofOperating InstructionsandBird by Birdcomes 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.… (more)
Member:mattandbranson
Title:Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
Authors:Anne Lamott (Author)
Info:Anchor (2000), Edition: Later Printing, 275 pages
Collections:Your library
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Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott (1999)

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Showing 1-5 of 58 (next | show all)
Brian McLaren says, She’s a better writer than I am, and—here’s the selling point—she’s a better writer than I am, too.

Anyway.

It’s a memoir, largely about her family, although the “Overture” is not unlike the testimonies you can find online about people’s faith journey, hers being salvation from addiction. But what I’d really like to say is that one of the themes here is the relevance of the parent-child relationship in the life of faith.

Two points should suffice. First, there is the issue of faith and worry in a parent-child relationship. One example of this is when the parent has to make a decision about risk. In the section called “Mountain Birthday”, her son Sam decides that he wants to go paragliding with an expert for his seventh birthday. Lamott doesn’t like the idea but isn’t sure she isn’t being overprotective; questions such as “whether I should let Sam ride his two-wheeler for several blocks without me when I secretly want to run alongside him like a golden retriever” cause her angst. For awhile she goes back and forth on the issue internally while getting a lot of contradictory advice from friends.

Finally, she remembers a conversation she once had with a minister when she was considering having the child that would later become Sam; the minister had basically said to consult the inner light, advice that led to her having her child. Because this time, as she says later in the book over a similar issue, “my head thought we could do it but my heart was afraid”, she tells Sam he cannot go paragliding for his birthday, news that he greets with minimal disappointment. Instead, he is allowed to go “floating down a sleepy little creek at the foot of the mountain”. This causes her some anxiety—“or bashing his head against a rock in the stream, or....”, but it is minimal and manageable.

A second example of this first point is worry about a possible health situation for her son, a situation over which she had no real control. “‘We need to draw more blood today too’, she said.... I wanted to shout that he didn’t have any more blood, that she’d already drunk it all up because she was a *pig*”—but you can’t say that. “.... my sarcastic Jesuit friend Tom said.... sometimes you get to see just how little you’re actually in charge of. I told him I was never going to call him again.” She says more about prayer and remembering Bible stories and eating comfort food, but the thing about Lamott is that she doesn’t hide that sometimes you don’t have much that is clever to say. You can’t change the situation yourself, and you don’t like it, and that’s how it is. You can’t always spend more money or write a letter to your congressman.

A second point: the nature of formation of and differences in belief between parent and child are also present. “It was like we’d all signed some sort of loyalty oath early on, agreeing not to believe in God in deference to the pain of my father's cold Christian childhood.” Her parents were liberal intellectuals who “drank a lot, liked jazz and gourmet food. They were fifties Cheever people, with their cocktails and affairs.” But she does have various faith episodes (“lily pads”) in her childhood, usually with parent-figures, like the Christian Scientist mother who “gathered her children (and any other loose kids that happened to be there) into an armchair, like Marmie in *Little Women*, and read to them from *Science and Health* or the Bible”; also she is adopted by ardent Jews for awhile into their faith and family—“.... In college, though, most of the smartest, funniest women in the dorm, the ones who always had the best dope, were Jews and referred endlessly to their Jewishness”. Although she drifts away from these childhood religious experiences, she does eventually join a church in California as an adult in recovery, and when she does, she joins a very liberal group, probably the influence of her parents and especially her father, who thought that Reagan was a fascist.... And she brings her son with her to church as she explains in “Why I Make Sam Go To Church”: “The church became my home in the old meaning of *home*—that’s where, when you show up, they have to let you in. They let me in. They even said, ‘You come back now.’” Family is also where she lives out her values that she learns in church: “I tell you, families are definitely the training ground for forgiveness.”

The faith is, after all, and as James said, nothing if it is not made concrete, and this book is nothing if not filled with the concrete details called personal experience.
  goosecap | Apr 22, 2020 |
This collection of biographical essays that all center on Lamott's faith (except one of them is just about her hair). Most of them are about the beginning stages of her faith and how she eventually found a home in her church and in Christianity even though she initially didn't really want to. A good book for both religious and nonreligious people, as it is though provoking without being preachy and offers a very different view of religion than the one that is most vocal in this country. ( )
  covertprestige | Feb 24, 2019 |
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. ( )
  jepeters333 | Sep 15, 2018 |
She seems to confess to all her faults. She seems very human but I imagine she's pretty tough. ( )
  mahallett | Feb 9, 2018 |
I loved this book! Anne Lamott seems to have fought the calling of God most of her life. She speaks frankly of her alcoholism, bulimia, and atheistic family and friends. Despite all this, she is repeatedly confronted with God's presence and and his unconditional love. Finally she succumbs, and realizes, as we all do, that we are still confronted with the heartbreaks of a child with a terrible disease, the need to forgive those who hurt us, the insecurity of aging. She deals with these and other subjects by sharing stories from her own life. She is a rough, sometimes crass, believer and sometimes hangs on to her faith by her fingernails, but she learns to recognize God's hand all around her.

I especially enjoyed this book because while it evidences a strong faith, she doesn't pretend it always comes easily or that life becomes perfect once you become a Christian. She makes me feel that if God can love and accept her, with her flaws, he can surely do the same for me. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
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"Mine was a patchwork God, sewn together from bits of rag and ribbon, Eastern and Western, pagan and Hebrew, everything but the kitchen sink and Jesus."
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From the bestselling author ofOperating InstructionsandBird by Birdcomes 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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Lamott (Bird by Bird) reads a collection of her autobiographical essays, each a heart-wrenching detailing of a life grown up in a world of obsessions: food, alcohol, drugs and relationships. She tells of her childhood and early adulthood in Tiburon, Calif., where she started drinking and drugging young in a permissive 1960s-era disheveled household. The title essay, "Traveling Mercies," dwells on things "broken," such as her body, when she became a bulimic. Lamott's writing is honest and direct, and in her reading she presents her words with emotional insistence. She recalls episodes from her life with vivid ferocity, noticing how "everything felt so intense and coiled and M?bius strip-like." As she has a son, sobers up, her search for awareness turns spiritual. The sum effect comes across like a hipper version of Melody Beattie's self-help classic, Codependent No More.
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