Synopses & Reviews
Struggling with her return to the Christian church after many years away, Kathleen Norris found it was the language of Christianity that most distanced her from faith. Words like "judgment," "faith," "dogma," "salvation," "sinner"—even "Christ"—formed what she called her "scary vocabulary," words that had become so codified or abstract that their meanings were all but impenetrable. She found she had to wrestle with them and make them her own before they could confer their blessings and their grace. Blending history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir, Norris uses these words as a starting point for reflection, and offers a moving account of her own gradual conversion. She evokes a rich spirituality rooted firmly in the chaos of everyday life—and offers believers and doubters alike an illuminating perspective on how we can embrace ancient traditions and find faith in the contemporary world.
"Norris's lyrical prose rings with clarity and grace as she brings life to her experience of the church's vocabulary." Publishers Weekly
"An engaging meditation on the language of faith."The New York Times Book Review
"A unique and glorious voice."Boston Globe
"[Kathleen Norris] writes about religion with the imagination of a poet."Chicago Tribune
"It's hard to imagine less off-putting or pious writing about religion than this sublimely commonsensical lexicon of words and concepts that, as Kathleen Norris explains them, have rarely sounded less frighteningor quite so simple to understand."Elle
"One of the most eloquent yet earthbound spiritual writers of our time...frequently irreverent and funny...She makes us converts to her simple faith of warmth."San Francisco Sunday Examiner and Chronicle
"Definitely worthwhile reading...She combines an impressive understanding of theology with personal experience, making her essays read like letters from a highly literate friend."People
The beloved author of The Cloister Walk takes readers on a moving journey in this thoroughly original investigation of faith. Taking as her starting point the "scary words" that can intimidate and distance us from our religious heritage words like "judgment, faith, dogma, salvation", and "sinner" Norris blends history, theology, storytelling, etymology, and memoir to reflect on their meanings.
About the Author
Norris is an award-winning poet and writer.
Table of Contents
Amazing Grace Preface
Inheritance: Blessing and Curse
Conversion: The Family Story
Belief, Doubt, and Sacred Ambiguity
Inheritance: What Religion Were You Raised in, and WhatAre You Now?
Conversion: The Stories
Virgin Mary, Mother of God
Conversion: The Feminist Impasse
Conversion: One More Boom
Sinner, Wretch, and Reprobate
Good and Evil
The Bible: Illiteracies and Ironies
Conversion: The Wild West
The Bible Study
Conversion: My Ebenezer
The Bible: Give Me a Word
Conversion: The Scary Stuff
Imagination (Or, How Many Christians Does It Take to Balance N. Scott Momaday?)
Prayer as Remembrance: The Expert Marksman's Medal
Interpretation: "I Know Not"
Prayer as Mystery
The New Jerusalem