Adding structure to these Expressions starting now, and going for at least the next month. 7 days of the week, one topic for each day.
Thursday is “Thinking About Books” day.
[Warning: this is a long post]
I finished Anne Lamott’s “Grace (Eventually)” just now. While reading the book my mind was regularly driven to make comparisons with “Eat, Pray, Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Anne, daughter of atheists, is a self-proclaimed Christian; Presbyterian by church affiliation. Liz, descended from Puritans, practices some kind of Eastern religion involving yoga, silent meditation, chanting, and the following of an undisclosed guru’s teachings. Anne and Liz have both written about spirituality’s impact upon their lives. We love Anne Lamott’s recklessly candid writing style. Her vulnerability makes us feel less vulnerable. We love Elizabeth Gilbert-she is our Don Quixote, believing in, and finding more, than what they told us we could expect; and writing about it with sublimely perfect pitch, tone, and harmony.
I am sad that Anne, who proclaims an allegiance with Christ, has missed so much Him. I am astonished that Liz, who makes no claim of fealty to or knowledge of Christ, has acquired great depths of spiritual insight. I am compelled to confess that my Jesus-loving heart feels intense affinity with the spiritual journey traveled by…Liz the Hindu/Buddist-type. Her life-weariness, her sense of God reaching out for her, her learning to pray, her progressive increase in spiritual strength, her spiritual breakthroughs, her experience of the perfection of solitude with Greatness; these things resonate with my own experiences with the Lord. On the other hand, Annie’s belief in [reliance upon, hope in, and trust of] mankind, who is helped along in little ways, eventually, by the grace of a good and loving God, felt off. My inner “Caution: corrupted beliefs in view” light flickered on regularly as I read Anne’s essays. I pitied her bitter dissappointment over mankind’s misdeeds, and her despair over the seeming inevitable suffering in store for future generations.
I ask you, what subtle religious device is it that causes Christians to flee from the spiritual and instead to focus their attention on mankind’s own ability, wisdom, and feeble strength? What worldly craftiness is it that causes searching souls to find a spiritual side, to transcend in prayer, and to trust in power greater than themselves while at the same time robbing these lost souls of understanding of the purpose of the spiritual side, of understanding of the person hearing the prayer, and of understanding of the personality of the Power Who Governs All? The plot is revealed: let the saved know Christ, but hide from them all knowledge of His/their power; let the lost find spiritual power, but keep from them all knowledge of Christ.
Both Annie and Liz, and all of us represented in the pages of their work, are in trouble.
“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
I Peter 5:8 (ESV)