She came to Jesus just as she was—a foul-mouthed, bulimic, alcoholic drug addict. One week after having an abortion, she surrendered to him in her very own version of the sinner's prayer, punctuated with the f-word.
When I recently called Anne Lamott—the funny, nutty, fast-talking, born-again author whose books include Bird by Bird, Operating Instructions, Traveling Mercies, and most recently Blue Shoe—the same earthy candor came through.
To be sure, Lamott is a hard-core liberal. I disagree with her on many fronts, for example with her belief that personhood doesn't start at conception. Yet, deeper within her than her loud liberalism is a reality that has won her many evangelical readers: a zany ardor for Jesus. Lamott's fascination with all things Jesusy (a term she might as well have copyrighted) must be the reason why she is a mixed bag of hilariously antagonistic affections.
Let me count the ways.
Every morning, before she gets out of bed, Lamott reads meditations by Emmet Fox (1886-1951), the progressive New Thought preacher who is popular in Alcoholics Anonymous circles. "You want to buy his book Sermon on the Mount today; it will change your life. I promise," she says. She looks up daily Scripture passages in Zondervan's Women of Faith Study Bible. The conservative publisher puts out "hundreds of books that I love," including If You Want to Walk on Water, You've Got to Get Out of the Boat by Willow Creek Community Church's teaching pastor, John Ortberg.
A commentator for NPR and a columnist at the freethinking Salon.com, Lamott shops "all the time" at Christian bookstores. She calls herself a "bumper-sticker Christian." The two bumper-sticker sayings she lives by are: "God loves you just the way you are but he loves you ...1
Already a CT subscriber? Log in for full digital access.
Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.
Subscribe to Christianity Today and get access to this article plus 65+ years of archives.
- Home delivery of CT magazine
- Complete access to articles on ChristianityToday.com
- Over 120 years of magazine archives plus full access to all of CT’s online archives
- Learn more