Anne Lamott’s quirky, intimate, outraged-liberal voice has been a breath of fresh air in the sometimes stuffy genre of modern Christian literature. And so fans of her wry, witty observations on faith and life will welcome her third faith-focused book, Grace (Eventually), a collection of 23 essays, 15 of them previously published.
Lamott is as always—gossipy, charmingly self-deprecating, given to eloquent if predictable rants about the Bush administration that skid into pithy, personal amens. She makes us laugh as she prays to stop a hormone-triggered eating binge, wrestles with a clueless Sunday school class, learns to dance with the developmentally disabled and looks for her lost dog.
But this collection doesn’t work as well as its predecessors did. It’s disjointed in a way that makes one wonder if it wasn’t a catch-all for B-side ruminations. Some of the essays are downright bombs, as in one about Lamott reading in front of a group of old hippie acquaintances that takes too long to get nowhere.
That being said, there’s still some Lamott fizz here. Two provocative essays tackle euthanasia (she helped a terminally ill friend die) and abortion rights (she lost her temper at a conference of Catholics) in a way that will make many readers uneasy but also make them think deeply.
Lamott is at her very best when writing about motherhood, a topic that evolves with every book as her son, Sam, grows older. “You’ve got to wonder what Jesus was like at 17,” she wisecracks during a struggle to get some perspective after a fight with Sam. “They don’t even talk about it in the Bible, he was apparently so awful.”
And she rocks when directly pondering her countercultural Christianity, which she believes saved her from alcoholism, despair and self-absorption. A riff on how Jesus’ directive to “Behold the lilies of the field” can help us stop stressing and striving and truly experience “holy beauty” is especially lovely.
Lamott’s concept of radical grace continues to appeal to many Christians put off by rigid, unimaginative religious upbringings, and it is that group that will find Grace (Eventually) most valuable.