Monday, March 7, 2011

The F-word in the Bible: Anne Lamott

Pardon me for writing so sloppily this morning.  This is what Anne Lamott would advise:  a shitty first draft.  I learned that while doing oh so much writing for a Ph.D. in English, when the English Department experts here at the university advised me to read even more.  They said to learn how to write the dissertation I'd do well to read an Anne Lamott book, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.  That's where I got that "shitty" advice from, great advice, one of the best books on writing I've ever read.  I'm follwoing it now, I'm sure.

But what my advisors didn't know about was how reading Anne Lamott's books had alreayd helped me learn to read the Bible.  It's her materiality, or what Rod might call her body, that gets me reading the Bible differenlty.  More on that in just a sec.  I wanted to stop on the body again just to give you how Rod writes on your body and on mine and probably on Anne Lamott's as we all decide how to read the Bible.  He concludes:

Therefore, while tradition provides Christians with a closed canon, reading Scripture, one can understand how to live into an open story, where one’s body becomes part of the biblical narrative as one learns to participate, by the power of the Holy Spirit, into the divine life of Yeshua the Messiah, our New Humanity.
(Now go read how he got there!  Stop, read, then come back here if you like).

Thanks for coming back.  Isn't Rod giving us some wonderful insights?!  How to read the Bible.  What if there's the F-word in it?  How would we read that?

Well, depends, doesn't it, on what we mean by the F-word.  Could mean Fe-male.  Like Mary Magdelene, or Miriam as Rod and others who read hebrew do call her.  Lots of problems reading the Bible that way, with Eve being "Life" but then "sinning first"; with the wife of Lot turning around; with the non-Jewess heroine being a prostitute (yeah Rahab is who); with a non-Jewess snuggling with our hero Boaz (yeah Ruth is who); with the wife of Uriah bringing down David the King; and so forth and so on.  Bodies, and bodies sexed Fe-male. 

There still here today.  Read about em in the blogs.  Now the real f-word is Fe-minist.  Listen:

Rod writing a whole month long series, with fe-minists Elisabeth Schussler Fiorenza, Renita J Weems, April DeConick, and Suzanne McCarthy all in the body of one blog post.

Clayboy (aka Doug Chaplin) is showing his "feminist interest in early Christian history" by relying "A story of a North African woman’s courage... a genuine first-hand journal by the high-class and educated [Vivia ] Perpetua."  Oh, read this one!

The wonderful Jane Stranz is confessing:
Sometimes I get bored with calling myself a feminist. It seems sort of tired and old fashioned, yet it is very much part of who I am and what makes me tick. I admit I have sort of given up smiling every time I get comments such as "when are we going to have an international men's day".... So today I felt energised and encouraged when reading Mariella Frostrup's excellent essay in the Observer.
And if that's not enough to stop you from reading, the Bible, the blogs, etc., then there's Anne Lamott.  No she doesn't blog and she didn't write the gospel of Anne, non canonical.  But, like the Fe-males in the Bible she meanders into spirituality, into wonderful relationship with God, in her body travelling.  And like the Fe-minists blogging and being blogged about (she doesn't blog, but writes stuff for Salon and such online), Anne Lamott has liberty that's refreshing as I come to where I am, when I read, when I'm opening bible pages to read.  Well, here's a spoiler alert or a reader's advisory.  Anne Lamott really does use the F-word.  At a dead old blog now, I once wrote what she wrote (clikc the linke if you must, and read).  Now I'm writing what she's written in Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith - it's her story (after she was making step by step progress - not perfection - out of so much, going to nicer motels with the men and not the very seedy ones, and such); she writes of faith:
I began to cry and left before the benediction, and raced home and felt the little cat running along at my heals and I walked down the dock past dozens of potted flowers under a sky as blue as one of God's own dreams, and opened the door to my houseboat, and I stoo there a minute , and then I hung my head and said, "Fuck it: I quit."  I took a long deep breath and said out loud, "All right. You can come in"

So this was my beautiful moment of conversion.
Which makes me think of all the beautiful moments of conversion in the Bible, of all the F-words in it, and how they make a difference, even to me, maybe to you too.

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