Saturday, May 13, 2017

Book Review: Hallelujah Anyway

I like Anne Lamott. I really do. Yet, once again, I felt less than satisfied with her newest book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy. I think, in order to fully grasp mercy, one has to fully grasp mercy's need. To that end, Lamott spends quite a bit of time portraying the faults and failings of our humanity. Still, the true extent of our need for God's mercy is never tapped. In the end, the reader comes away with ruminations on personal need to show one's self and others mercy.

Just as in Help, Thanks, Wow, I bristled at the political infusion in categorical denunciations. And, once again, I found it hard to stomach the familiarity and crassness used in speaking of both Paul and Jesus. At one point, she declares (when Jesus wept for Mary and Martha's sorrow) that Jesus was "pissed" and she responds to this sentiment with her own declaration "Oy vey!" Hmm. Not my take on that whole scenario. She calls Paul "cranky, judgemental, and self-righteous," although does admit that she sees these very attributes within herself. For me, it feels like a lack of respect. I want to step back and recognize holy ground when I see it. I don't want to sully things beyond me with my own limited perspectives.

Moreover, I didn't really feel a strong sense of connection with what was being said. Many times in reading previous books by Lamott, I have felt moments of kinship. This time, I couldn't get inside her pain or her acts of mercy. I wanted to feel more deeply, to be convicted more intensely.

So, while there is some value in reading Lamott's observations - we all could certainly stand to treat one another with more mercy and forgiveness - I came away wishing for more depth, more respect, and more conviction. We need mercy from God far more than we need mercy from ourselves. We cannot hope to show mercy to others without recognizing the depth of our need for mercy from the One who atones for our death-infused sins.

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