Truth be told, I didn’t have the guts to post this on RevGalBlogPals. However, all of the terrific questions asked are by RevAbi. Others posted their responses but, in general, I think they were more positive than my response. So, with fair warning, this is not a glowing review. If you love Anne Lamott, stop reading now so I don’t hurt your feelings.
Here are some questions to get us started in our book discussion. You are invited to write responses to them or to write your own thoughts ask other questions as well:
1. Did Grace Eventually live up to your expectations? Why or why not?
Not really. I really wanted to like this book. I bought it just to participate in the discussion and I mostly slogged through it. There were a few turns of the phrase that I particularly liked but all too often I found myself “outside” of the book. I wanted to be captured, but I just wasn’t.
2. How much did you know about Lamott and her spirituality before you started reading the book? Were you familiar with the her platform, and did this influence your decision to choose the work? Did the book live up to your expectations of the author? Did it exceed your expectations? Why or why not?
I mostly knew about Lamott from others quoting her. I didn’t really know about her platform but I could understand, and sometimes echo, her sentiments. The point of view was not a problem for me, even though sometimes the expression was pretty strong.
3. What did you like or dislike about the book that hasn’t been discussed already? Were you glad you read this book? Would you recommend it to a friend? Do you want to read more works by this author?
I probably would be willing to read “Traveling Mercies” if it were loaned to me. But I probably won’t be looking for anything else by her and I’m not likely to recommend it to anyone. Madeline L’Engle’s Crosswick Journals I would recommend even though there are spots where they are a little dated.
4. What do you think motivated Anne Lamott to share these particular personal stories? How did you respond to her “voice”?
Maybe part of why I wasn’t captured is that I couldn’t always figure out why these particular stories were shared. Some of them were obvious to me but to only include them would have made a booklet instead of a book. I actually liked her “voice” and the way she told the stories for the most part. But, I wondered “why is she telling me this?” too many times.
6. Do you think Anne Lamott is trying to elicit a certain response from the reader, such as sympathy? How has Grace Eventually changed or enhanced your view of her?
My view of her was 3rd hand so there wasn’t much to change in a direct way. However, I’m not as impressed as I was prepared to be. I do think there is something to be said for her giving voice and thought for some who may feel quite isolated with their similar feelings.
7. In one of her chapters, “Wailing Wall,” she writes that “anger is good, a bad attitude is excellent, and the medicinal powers of shouting and complaining cannot be overestimated.” Do you agree or disagree and tell why?
Isn’t that why there are more lament Psalms than any other kind?
8. One of the most controversial chapters of the book, tells about Anne helping a terminally-ill friend die. How did you react to this chapter? How does “Grace” fit into this or not?
I hated it.
9. She writes at one point “I prayed impatiently for patience, and to stop feeling disgusted by myself, and to believe for a few moments that God, just a bit busy with other suffering in the world, actually cared about one menopausal white woman on a binge.” What are your thoughts about that?
Regardless of age or situation, I think everyone has times of struggling with self worth. I think our own preoccupation with our own feelings of disgust interfere with our ability to know that God does in fact care for each one of us. I don’t think it is God’s care or presence that is missing but that we are completely oblivious to it.
10. “I wish grace and healing were more abracadabra kinds of things,” she writes in one of her essays, “that delicate silver bells would ring to announce grace’s arrival. But no, it’s clog and slog and scootch, on the floor, in silence, in the dark.”Do feel the same way about Grace and healing or do you feel differently? If so why?
I think that abracadabra grace and healing would be too much like a vending machine; put in your prayer, poke the button, get your grace. However, while I have experienced that clog and slog and scotch on the floor in silence in the dark, I believe the part of Psalm 139 that says God hems me in behind and before that wherever I go, even Sheol, God is there.