A Lifeline for Our Damaged Selves: A Review of Anne Lamott’s “Help. Thanks. Wow.”

For many female Christian writers, particularly those like me who write about theology in non-academic terms and in the context of our lives as mothers, neighbors, church members, and writers, novelist and spiritual memoirist Anne Lamott embodies our highest aspirations. I remember reading her memoir Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son’s First Year, and being completely surprised and enchanted by the gems of practical theology sprinkled throughout her account of the usual indignities and frustrations of bearing and nurturing a baby. I picked the book up because, as a new mother myself, I was enchanted by the emerging “momoir” genre. But Operating Instructions proved to be so much more than a motherhood memoir. It was instead a convincing, inspiring portrait of how a mother can see God’s hand in her love for her child, and how a person can be both a committed Christian and a political/social liberal. (There are a fair number of folk who refuse to label Lamott as a Christian writer because her politics don’t fall in lockstep with the conservative Christian right; as far as I can tell, this bothers Anne Lamott not a bit).

I am honored to have reviewed Anne Lamott’s latest book, Help. Thanks.Wow: The Three Essential Prayers (Riverhead 2012) for the Englewood Review of Books. While it was not my absolute favorite book of hers, it is a wise and very slim volume on the simplicity and necessity of prayer. Read more about it in my review.

 

About Ellen Painter Dollar

Ellen Painter Dollar is a writer focusing on faith, parenting, family, disability, and ethics. She is the author of No Easy Choice: A Story of Disability, Faith, and Parenthood in an Age of Advanced Reproduction (Westminster John Knox, 2012). Visit her web site at http://ellenpainterdollar.com for more on her writing and speaking, and to sign up for a (very) occasional email newsletter.


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