Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith by Anne LaMott

"Laughter is carbonated happiness." Anne Lamott

As the war continues, peace activist and Sunday school teacher Anne Lamott is finding it harder to love George W. Bush. She has other spiritual challenges: her son Sam is a teenager who does not want to go to church; their dog Lily has died; several of her friends have cancer; she has her mother's ashes in a closet; and she is asked to be a flower girl in a wedding. Her doctor has diagnosed that she is clinically sensitive and recommends that she avoid stimulating situations, but this not something she can do. Fortunately for us, she can write about all these issues.

Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith is a collection of twenty biographical essays written since Lamott's previous best seller Traveling Mercies. In these she often discusses the unfairness of life and the reasons for hope and celebrates the friends that help her face each day.

My favorite story tells about her church friend Ann who was born with a birth defect because her mother worked in a munitions factory during World War II. This woman bravely showed her deformed arm as part of her campaign to fight prejudice. Children were fascinated, wanting to touch the scars of the missing fingers. When Ann's death from cancer was imminent, she asked to be buried in a plain wooden coffin decorated by the children of the church. Lamott decided it was not a good idea to have children work directly on the coffin, so she had them create works of art that she and friends then attached to the coffin. Ann was able to admire a colorful coffin before she died.

In our politically divided country not everyone will like this book, which I find sad, for Lamott is trying to make the world a better place through humor and honesty. I recommend listening to Lamott read her book on CD to get the full effect.

Lamott, Anne. Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith. New York: Riverhead Books, 2005. ISBN 1573222992

5 compact discs. New York: Penguin Audio, 2005. ISBN 0143057340

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