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A Discussion of Messianic Judaism, the Emerging Messianic Jewish Paradigm, and Related Leadership Issues from the Preoccupied Mind of Rabbi Stuart Dauermann, PhD.

All Contents ©2004-2007 Stuart Dauermann - ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Monday, November 06, 2006

A Book Review - Anne Lamott - Traveling Mercies

Anne Lamott. Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith. New York: Anchor Books, 1999.

When not traveling on book tours, or out of town doing public speaking or teaching writer’s workshops, Anne Lamott can be found in her native Marin County, California, probably hanging out with her son Sam, who is a little boy in this book. Anne is a single mom, and never was married to Sam’s dad, who is one in a succession of lovers she has had in her quest to fill the gap left by her now deceased Dad, whom she loved as much as sunshine, air, and life itself. Anne embodies a unique blend of sorrowful sensitivity, sharp observation, unashamed candor, unmarred eloquence, and spiritual sweetness and vulnerability. Her humor delights and astonishes, as does her wisdom, often expressed in brief epigrams worth becoming the armataure around which you just might restructure aspects of your life. I love the woman and trust her because above all, she is unafraid to be real.

However, this fearlessness did not come naturally, and Anne has had a very messy life. In Traveling Mercies she pulls the bandages off her wounds that we might see. In her “Overture,” titled “Lily Pads,” she retraces her fragile journey into the arms of God, telling us how she was dragged kicking, screaming and crawling, into the Kingdom by pierced hands, and how her wounds are now healing. What follows is twenty-four chapters divided into seven sections: Mountain, Valley, Sky; Church, People, Steeple; Tribe; Kids, Some Sick; Body and Soul; “Fambly”; Shore and Ground. She reveals glimpses, sparks, glimmers of God’s glory in the mundane relationships and neurotic struggles of her life, teaching us about forgiveness, grace, and hope. Never preachy, she is always vigilant to preserve life’s mixed quality, light in the midst of darkness, hope in the midst of despair, joy, wet with tears of sorrow. You won’t find a plastic Jesus on the dashboard of her car, or anywhere in this book.

Lamott’s candor, humor, faith and groundedness are everywhere apparent, as in this quotation: “God: I wish you could have some permanence, a guarantee or two, the unconditional love we all long for. ‘It would be such skin off your nose?’ I demand of God. I never get an answer. But in the meantime I have learned that most of the time, all you have is the moment, and the imperfect love of people” (168).

The book is aptly titled. She is sharing with us the some of the mercies she’s found traveling the bumpy, potholed pathways of life in the raw. If you are looking for pat answers, look elsewhere. But if you’re looking for mercy and a little light in the midst of your darkness, find it here.

At 11/09/2006 12:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Unmarred eloquence!

Indeed. I don't see how anyone could say being unmarried or never married with kids would ever be eloquence.

Edith Ann

At 11/09/2006 3:41 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

I didn't say "unMARRIED" eloquence, but unMARRED eloquence!

Of course I was referring to her writing which is "unmarred" as in "flawless," at least for the most part.

As for single-parenthood, her messy life, well, all of us have our messes, don't we? It's just that some of us hide them better than others do.

She has elected to not hide hers, to the benefit of other strugglers like myself.

At 11/10/2006 1:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

2 moral questions.

1. What do you call it when the blog master doesn't post the second blog sent in so he can get credit for the punch line?

2. Since this posted after noon on Thursday 11/9, do that mean the Anonymous writer did get a ground swell of support or that the blog master over stated his ability to keep Anonymous from posting?

At 11/10/2006 3:45 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

The anonymous poster has continued to demontrate his disposition to pick fights. There was not ground swell of support for the man. I believe there may have been ONE response.

In my view I was in error to readmit him to the blog because his criticisms are too often designed to undermine, to wound, and are the kind of wrangling about opinions which Scripture wisely discourages. However, in the past ten responses, some have actually been issue oriented so I am ambivalent.

I don't require that people agree with me. I do require that I be treated with respect, at least on my blog. Life is too short to volunteer to be someone's urinal.

I trust this clarifies matters.

At 11/10/2006 4:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

However, in the past ten responses, some have actually been issue oriented so I am ambivalent.

So why did you not post the issue oriented ones and did post the others?

At 11/10/2006 9:31 PM, Blogger Stuart Dauermann said...

You should see the nasty ones I leave off the site. I have scores of them from one or two parties, especially from this particular Anonymous sender.

Contrary to your comment,I *have* published some if not all of the nicer ones. However, I do not publish those which amount to sermons or long grandstanding essays. People who wish to publish essays on the Web should get their own blog rather than use someone else's blog comment area as a place to placard their own treatments.

I began allowing the recent spate of published comments, after having excluded this particular party from the site for months, because he conducted himself more humanely by sending a genuine inquiry. Sadly, this quickly devolved into his bating me, which is why he was excluded in the first place, and which practice he apparently enjoys, and not he alone.

However, as I said in another comment, I choose not to volunteer to be someone's urinal and so exercise my freedom to step out of the way, in this case by not publishing screeds designed to pull my chain for someone's personal amusement or satisfaction.

By the way, I am not here to endlessly defend my decisions in these matters. As the old TV shows used to say,"The decision of the judges is final." Anyone finding my judgment in these matters to be annoying, or deeming my judgment to be neurotic, psychotic, or exotic, and anyone wishing to pull my chain. is free to go elsewhere and even start his/her own blog for those purposes.

Meanwhile, I will exercise my freedom to exclude comments from this blog which *I deem* to be assaultive, nasty, personally directed hostility, or otherwise inappopriate.

Don't expect me to spend further time justifying my decisions in these matters. I have no intention of doing so.

This site is here to offer materials for those who appreciate them. Others are free to go elsewhere, with my blessing.

At 3/14/2007 12:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Beautiful review!!!
The anonymous sender seems to portray illusions of boredom and distain.
As for the writer...
Very good work!!!
I just got done reading this fabulous book and are now in the process of writing my own review.
Yours helped immensely.


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