Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott
Penguin Publishing Group: 4/4/17
eBook review copy; 192 pages
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott is a so-so exploration of mercy, as radical kindness.
Lamott says: Mercy is radical kindness. Mercy means offering or being offered aid in
desperate straits. Mercy is not deserved. It involves forgiving the
debt, absolving the unabsolvable. Mercy, grace, forgiveness, and
compassion are synonyms, and the approaches we might consider taking
when facing a great big mess, especially the great big mess of
ourselves—our arrogance, greed, poverty, disease, prejudice. It includes
everything out there that just makes us sick and makes us want to turn
away, the idea of accepting life as it presents itself and doing
goodness anyway, the belief that love and caring are marbled even into
the worst life has to offer.
Drawing on her
own experiences on how difficult it is to extend mercy and accept it in
the real world, Lamott uses plenty of personal examples and stories
along with Biblical stories to support her thoughts. "When we manage a
flash of mercy for someone we don’t like, especially a
truly awful person, including ourselves, we experience a great spiritual
moment, a new point of view that can make us gasp." She shares a few
good examples of the difficulty of extending mercy to some of the
especially unlovable people you might come across in your life, but also
the same difficulty in extending mercy in disagreements with those you
truly care about.
This is not her best work and it fell flat for me. It sort of felt like
she phoned this one in and stretched the reach of some of the stories in
order to make them apply to the point she wanted to illustrate. I agree
with some of her conclusions and thoughts, but ultimately reject how
she expressed herself in several instances in this book. Additionally,
I've heard plenty of colorful language during my life, but it didn't
feel all of the usage was entirely appropriate or needed when used in Hallelujah Anyway.
Of course, I can extend mercy and ignore the language in multiple
instances. But why were the multiple usages necessary to begin with?
Finally, when she describes Jesus as getting "pissy" in his reaction,
she lost me entirely. There are so many more appropriate and descriptive
words in the English language, so why go low?
My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group.