Book Review: Traveling Mercies


Hey friends,

As mentioned a couple of posts ago, I have been blessed with some extra free time lately to read anything I so choose. And so I've got myself a Goodreads account (at my librarian wife's suggestion) and a summer reading list, and started going to town. Let's see if we can beef up the book reviews section of the J-Blog here!

I wanted to start with some books that I read a long time ago, and haven't come back to since. Anne Lamott's Traveling Mercies hopped right off the shelf, begging for a second go around. I read it in college actually, in my introduction to religions course. This was how our professor introduced us to Christianity (something I was at least a little familiar with), and I am eternally grateful that he did!

If you're like me, and you grew up in the kind of rigid mindset that Christianity has to look like it does on TV or in the news or how everyone thinks that Christianity is going to look, then Traveling Mercies is like drinking an incredibly refreshing glass of water. For starters, Lamott writes in the same voice/style as what's going on in my brain, and for that we should pray for her! But I can relate, and that's half the battle when reading isn't it?

I don't think Lamott's upbringing was standard for most Christians, or at least certainly not for me. But I love it anyway. I loved to read lilly pads and see how Jesus was hard at work in Lamott's life, trying to find his way in like a cat that followed her around for days. I love that Jesus can heal and refresh all of us, including the drug addicted alcoholics who struggle with eating disorders. Those, he can turn into a great spiritual voice in our generation.

What I can appreciate is that this book isn't quite as controversial today as it probably was in 2000, and by that I mean I think the Church as an institution has grown up a bit in America. Or at least I hope it has. The things that caused my college classmates to bristle at this book when we read it seem like every day occurrences now, as though we're trying to adapt our way of thinking to what Jesus is asking from us in this time and in this place. I hope we're always ready to adapt our way of thinking to what Jesus is up to. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when the 7 year old Sam (Anne's son) leans his head out of their broken down car to curse at the people who are cursing at them. Life is real. Sometimes cars break down and the F Bomb is the only appropriate word to hit your tongue. Jesus is real. I think he wants to meet us where our life is at its most real, difficult, and challenging. It only makes sense that we try not to be fake around Jesus.

Anyway, if you're new to Christianity, this is actually a great place to start. And if your particular stream of Christianity could use a bit of a refresh, it's equally awesome. Pick it up today!


Carrot Top Studio said...

I enjoy Lamott's books also. Have you have listened to them? She reads them herself and I find the "voice" adds to the already wonderful voice in her writing. Just listened to the book about Sam's baby....can't think of the title.

Thanks for blogging!