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'One Thousand Gifts,' Reconsidered

A second take on Ann Voskamp's bestseller about gratitude.

Like every other woman in Western Christendom it seems, I've been reading Ann Voskamp's One Thousand Gifts. This month our family moved from San Francisco to Austin, Texas. The book group for the church I visited last week? Reading it in October. The women's group of the church I looked up on the Internet? Reading it in September. And why? With its lyrical—some might say grammatically adventurous—prose ("I am all eye, seeing through life as glass to God"), the book is nothing like the prose we're used to from our Zondervan-pressed inspirationals.

Though everyone may be talking about it, not everyone is convinced that the book belongs alongside C. S. Lewis and Oswald Chambers in the devotional canon. Two weeks ago, regular Her.meneutics writer Rachel Marie Stone critiqued the book, believing Voskamp's emphasis on Eucharisteo (joyful gratitude) is overreaching as "the key that opens all locks" in the Christian's spiritual life. Stone expressed concern that gratitude was being upheld as an additional requirement for salvation to be effective.

Stone also noted that Voskamp's "wrestling to be grateful for everything" is not necessarily biblical, citing a scene from the book in which one of Voskamp's sons throws a piece of toast in his brother's face. In that moment of anger and frustration, time seems to pause and Voskamp grasps for thanksgiving, a "Zen-like acceptance" that seems Stone says runs counter to biblical examples. Stone cited the Book of Job and Jesus' prayer ...

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