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Review: Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith

Editorial Review - Bookreporter.com - Cindy Crosby

"On my fortyninth birthday, I decided that all of life was hopeless, and I would eat myself to death." So begins PLAN B: Further Thoughts on Faith, a collection of delightfully honest and gritty essays from Salon.com columnist Anne Lamott. Lamott, like the best essayists, finds most of her inspiration in the ordinary stuff of living: the exhaustion of parenting, the frustration over a middleaged ... Read full review

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If you’re familiar with Anne Lamott or have read some of her more intentionally theological pieces like “Traveling Mercies” before, you know that she’s quite the eccentric writer but that, just when you think her story couldn’t have anything less to do with God, she levels you with brilliant spiritual truths.
If you’ve never read Lamott before, she’s dabbled in fiction, has offered great guidance and assurance for novice writers like myself, but she’s at her best in her autobiographical vignettes. Here’s a quick review of ”Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith,” a book chock-full of insight, wit, humor and profound spiritual meaning. *warning – “profane” language used throughout*
Lamott’s book weaves in and out of various periods and moments of her life. Through a sort of stream-of-conscious approach, she similarly weaves in and out of ideas. Grace and beauty; life and death; love and loss; race, religion and politics — Lamott covers the spectrum of human experience in an emotional rawness not often found in other pieces of “theology.”
For those with children, her stories of life with her son capture the essence of a relationships with children, lots of good but sometimes just as much bad. She and her son Sam have alter egos — “Phil” and the “Menopausal Death Crone” — and the interactions between the two of them are priceless.
She tells tales of how she mourns both life and death: living relationships affected by her “fucking things up” and those with the dead that she can never reconcile. For example, she keeps the ashes of her recently deceased mother in her closet for over two years as post-mortem punishment for years of agony she blames on her mother. But, later in the book, in beautiful display of forgiveness and “letting go,” she releases her mother’s ashes to wind with those that she holds dear.
Chapter 6 entitled “This Dog’s Life” is a beautifully written story surrounding the death of a beloved pet. As she describes the depth of relationship shared between her, her son, and their furry companion, Lamott invites the emotional reader (like myself) to lament the death of a dog they’ve never met but also rejoice in the shared love between the community of family and friends that surround her.
She also celebrates life and death in an “Easter People” sort of way that connects to a “Good Friday world.” A recurring theme is her hatred and struggled with that hatred of George W. Bush and his campaigns in the Middle East. Distraught by military campaigns and the thoughts of death of Iraqi children, she protests and foments and moans about the Bush presidency. In Chapter 17, she knows that Jesus would love him, too, and that he is her brother no matter how much she hates it. It drives her crazy that “God has no standards” when it comes to love. Lamott demonstrates standard in the live of her cancer-stricken, one-handed church-sister who’s outlandish love and compassion for all becomes more visible and palpable in the final days of her life. The story of her friend who views his life-long facial deformity as a “disguised gift from God” which has allowed for him to have a “militant self-acceptance” of himself. This self-acceptance allows him to transform the way that other see, not only him and his face, but also themselves becoming away of the fears they have within themselves.
A similarly recurring theme and philosophy throughout the book is “Don’t be an asshole.” This is the philosophy of her father, the strategy she employs when interacting with her son, and how she understands a key element of the words and life of Jesus.
Somewhere in Lamott’s colorful book, any reader will find a story or vignette that touches their heart or their funny bone. Like her practice of transcribing silly or wonderful things her son says onto postcards that decorate her walls, Lamott’s book interspersed with just brilliant nuggets of wisdom like “Nobody gets into heave without a letter of reference from
 

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The most offensive book I almost read! How she calls herself a Christian i'll never understand. She says we need to learn forgiveness, yet she is obsessed with hatred for a man she has never met!! If she wants to be a TRUE Christian, she should model herself after the wonderful man she so vehemently despises...GEORGE W. BUSH. If I ever ran into Anne Lamott and her "octopus head", I would spit in her face. This book is going in my fireplace! 

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