Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Anne Lamott

3/4/2008--Anne Lamott came to Pittsburgh last weekend. Lamott is the author of many spiritual books and writes autobiographically. She is very popular.

Although Lamott describes herself as a left-wing, born again Christian, she is a better example of a new, spiritual longing in America that is outside most organized religion. You can see this longing in the book, The Life of Meaning, which follows the PBS project Religion and Ethics Newsweekly. In the book, the phrase is repeated, I’m spiritual, not religious. Lamott is sort of like that.

I find myself oddly uncomfortable with this trend, which is surprising since some would say my work is a part of it. But I think it misses the God of History and also misses some of the most important aspects of the biblical witness. For example, Lamott wrote in Salon back in 2005 that she had a “core belief that all people are good, and precious to God, and that everyone deserves to be cared for.” But are all people good? The evidence is sort of to the contrary. And God loves people, if I understand the Christian message, despite the fact that people do not deserve God’s love. This may seem a small point, but it is the difference between religion and pablum.

Like a good liberal, Lamott is committed to the separation of Church and State, attributing this view to Jesus (Give to Caesar…). I wonder if this makes sense. She says God does not take sides. But the God I see in the Bible is very much one who takes sides. And a God who takes sides is a part of political life, not separated from it.

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