All posts tagged: Anne Lamott

Judgement and Forgiveness

Why do we find it so easy to judge and so hard to forgive? Part of the answer might lie in the fact that holding grudges and passing judgement can seem so satisfying. As Tim Herrera wrote in a recent New York Times article, we may actually like them, as we “tend to them as little pets.” Anne Lamott, writing in her inimitable (some would say snarky) style in Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy, captures the same push-pull attraction when she says, “Kindness towards others and radical kindness to ourselves buy us a shot at a warm and generous heart, which is the greatest prize of all. Do you want this, or do you want to be right? Well, can I get back to you on that?” In our time of extreme political polarization, it may be difficult to identify the humanity amidst the ideology. The more we see religion, politics and life as a winner-take-all battle full of zero-sum calculations, forgiveness seems quaint — a lost art or forgotten concept. This was on my mind as …

There is Nothing Like Paradox to Take the Scum Off Your Mind

I’ve long been fascinated with paradox and its place in our understanding of the world around us.  When I recently heard historian Patty Limerick quote Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes as saying, “There is nothing like paradox to take the scum off your mind,” I sat up and paid attention.  That’s a more earthy way of phrasing the F. Scott Fitzgerald quote which I’ve often used:  “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” Paradox is hard, but writer Anne Lamott asserts that “all truth is paradox.”  Life is a beautiful gift. At the same time it can be impossibly difficult. As the old Albert King blues song puts it, “Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die.” To keep from having to keep two opposing ideas in our head at the same time, we often find ourselves moving toward certainty.  Theologian Paul Tillich has described this challenge in the spiritual realm by saying that …

Accepting Life as It Presents Itself…And Doing Goodness Anyway

Anytime we face natural disasters such as we’ve seen with the landfall of Hurricane Harvey, our first thoughts—and the work of the first responders—are rightly focused on protecting those in harm’s way.  Those of us at the National Trust are thankful that our colleagues in Texas and Louisiana are safe, and we continue to keep the millions affected in those states foremost in our minds.  Knowing that many want to help, I want to share some good counsel for effective disaster giving, if you are so inclined.  No matter the amount donated, the underlying message is to diversify disaster giving. Give to more than one charity. Just like any other investment, spread your funding to more than one organization, with different goals for each. Give to recovery as well as relief: remember the long recovery phase that comes after a disaster. The urgent relief phase often gets the bulk of attention and funding, but don’t forget about recovery, which is often far longer, harder and more expensive.  Recovery done well also requires different kinds of …

Observations from the Road: The Vacation Reading Edition

I’ve now been back from vacation for two weeks, and have finally decided that I am not going to find the time to write lengthy posts on each book I checked off my summer reading list.  So I’m resorting to my trusty “Observations from the Road” formula, to give you short takes on the four books I read over those two weeks. Hallelujah Anyway:  Rediscovering Mercy — Shortly before leaving on vacation, I picked up this book by the popular author Anne Lamott after seeing several short quotes attributed to her work.  Candice’s reaction was, “You’re reading Anne Lamott?” and I understand that sentiment. Yes, she is crafty and crotchety, and she has a “perfectly calibrated NPR appeal” which can grate on some. But yes, I am.  She’s funny and a bit snarky, both traits I enjoy (when I agree) and she’s a very good writer.  She’s also brief (a quality I’m enjoying more as I plow through 500+ page works). This is a book about mercy.  She wanders a bit in getting there, but …