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3.5 out of 5 stars
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith
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265 of 294 people found the following review helpful
on March 9, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Anne Lamott is not for the faint-hearted. A bookseller and I agreed last week that Lamott is an acquired taste and more enjoyable if you've read a lot of theology and still find your heart is broken. Lamott reminds us that sanitized piety should not be confused with real faith; that Jesus Himself had radical ideas and didn't sit around worrying about whether our kids are watching PG movies.

Lamott's personal relationship with Jesus is one she's forged on her own, against all odds, reminding us that faith doesn't always come in an apple-pie/right-wing/Miss-America package. She is a roll-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work Christian -- a Christian who knows that it isn't enough to sit around quoting the Bible to be a good human being. Admitting her broken-ness and allowing us to laugh with her, we open our hearts to our own humanity. What a relief.
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196 of 221 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith contains a series of essays by Lamott from her salon.com column that she wrote during the beginning of the Iraq War. As a left wing Christian, Lamott understandably has trouble with the war and George W. Bush. As if that weren't enough, she is also turning 50 and her son is becoming a teenager. Lamott writes of all these things with great candor and humor. She is breathtakingly honest, but not in a way that makes me cringe or think "too much information." She also writes of friends and loved ones with great affection and compassion that manages to avoid sentimentality. Lamott has the ability to be very funny and very wise at the same time, which is always a pleasure. As a person who more and more searches for straight forward honesty, I find Anne Lamott a welcome breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this book.
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64 of 71 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I first encountered Anne Lamott when I read Operating Instructions, her wonderful book about her first year with her son Sam. I have never read a more honest account of motherhood's beginnings, or one with more love shining through. I've tried since then to find another book by her to love, without success.

I agreed with almost all Lamott's views in this book---which are mostly political, despite this being subtitled a book about faith. So my mixed feelings about this book are not because of differing political views. Rather, I felt that the tone here was mostly harsh. That's honest---it's nice to read that faith doesn't turn us all into happy clones. But I guess when I read a book about faith, I would like to have some feeling of grace or of being uplifted or at least of happiness. After reading this book, I felt totally depressed about the state of the world.

I also felt often that Lamott was making fun of people she didn't agree with. Especially when I read about her cruise, and her discomfort with all the flag adorned people, it seemed she didn't really try to follow the basic Golden Rule. She seemed to have little regard for those she met, and it seemed as if she was on her own personal cruise---which is fine, but again, not really too uplifting.

It was great to hear more about Sam, at least from my point of view. From HIS point of view, I would guess that he might not want to have it in print that he could be very mean to other kids, that he got drunk a few times, that he doesn't like to go to church...all somewhat normal teenage things, but I always wonder if it's really a parent's place to write about their teenager. There were a few times that she said she wasn't allowed to say more about him, but that didn't always seem to apply.

The writing is skilled here, and the honestly refreshing---especially the section about starting a Sunday School and race. But I don't really know what the reason for being of this book is---I don't feel like I learned more about Lamott's faith, or was given insight into my own, or even just plain enjoyed the reading. I will be honest about this, as Lamott unfailingly is!
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55 of 61 people found the following review helpful
on June 19, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Anne Lamott has written some wonderful texts, namely 'Operating Instructions; a Journal of My Son's First Year'. However, she has really fallen short of the mark with this collection of essays on religion, American presidency and her family.

Essentially, the greatest flaw of the work is its mind-numbing repetition. It unfailingly reinterates the same points and covers the same material in each and every essay or article.

Whilst I strongly agree with her endless tirade on George W. Bush and the state of American leadership, it does become slightly dull when repeated in every chapter. Similarly, I realise that she is angry at her mother and the behaviour of her son, but there is only so many times I can read about it. The work comes off as self-indulgent and Lamott herself is less likable in this work than her others.

Despite this, the text is beautifully written and does have a few topical highlights. These are generally the stories she shares about the unflinching beauty of others, such as 'Joice To The World' and 'One Hand Clapping'.

It is for this reason I give the work three stars, although it undoubtedly left a sour and negative taste in my mouth.
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37 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on March 26, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I feel like I'm not other reviewers of this book...I believe in the Christian teachings, but I am not a church-going, Bible-reading, Jesus-loving type. I don't do ANY of that stuff. In fact, I'm an atheist. So I was curious, but also a little hesistant. I've never read a book about faith before because any one I've ever picked up were all "fire and brimstone," "Jesus this, Jesus that," and it completely turned me off and turned me away. I picked up Anne Lamott's book at a tag sale & I knew who she was from "Bird by Bird," and I was willing to give her a shot because she has dreds. I know this sounds silly, but seriously, that was my deciding factor in reading a book about Christianity...the author has dreds.

It is FANTASTIC. This is coming from an avowed atheist who . I haven't been able to put the book of essays down since I bought it yesterday...she is nurturing whatever burgeoning spirituality I have inside me and making me think about thinks I have avoided thinking about before. That is all you can ask for from a book...that it makes you think.

The top two best things about Anne Lamott are 1) she's both really cool and really uncool at the same time, and 2) she's honest, even at the risk of having judgement passed on her. By 1) I mean that she's totally this Northern California, ex-alcoholic, progressive Bush-hating hippie, but she's also the mother of a teenager and writes about how they fight over him not having good manners.

By 2) I mean that she writes about her deceased mother very, very critically and that's so _refreshing_ for people who don't have nicey-nice, glowing things to say about our moms all the time.

I love her: I just bought 4 of her books off Amazon.

In summation: I feel calm after I read this book.
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40 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I have always appreciated Anne Lamott's writing for its upfront honesty, downright hilarity, and the raw edge she brought to her spiritual quest. Now a lot of what she is writing seems trite -- maybe like she's gotten pretty comfortable and lost her edge. The only thing that keeps her going is her hatred of the right wing in American politics,but she doesn't even probe that hatred very skillfully -- it's just there, like a dull toothache. There are some moving moments, for sure, like the ski trip with her friend who is dying of cancer. And it's nice to know she's made friends with her cellulite, I guess, but ultimately not very enlightening.

The spiritual insights aren't very insightful, they boil down to this: make friends with uncertainty. Be open to the universe. Breathe regularly.
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50 of 57 people found the following review helpful
Format: Hardcover
I read many of these online already. The book is slender, with big print and margins. I'm glad I borrowed it rather than buying it. I found the political essays less than interesting, and feel it will really date this book, unlike her others.
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54 of 64 people found the following review helpful
on May 4, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Let me preface what I am about to say by letting you know that I LOVE ANNE LAMOTT! Traveling Mercies resonated with me like no other book. Operating Instructions made me laugh and cry. This book however, left me feeling hollow and sad. It should have been called Further Thoughts on Anne's huge anger problem with the president, her mother and her son. I can appreciate getting real and honest, but come on, some serious therapy is needed here. Her hatred of George Bush borders on the obscene. She lost me when she compared him to Osama Bin Laden. The George hatred takes up about five chapters. Hate is a major theme in this book. Unlike TRaveling Mercies which deals beautifully with the issue of faith, this book really isn't about that. I think she throws in a few thoughts about Jesus here and there so she can put that in the title. Despite all of this, Anne is till one of my favorite authors. I hope her next book is more like her previous non fiction attempts and not so devisive and political.
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88 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I think you can make fun of George Bush. And I think you can inject a little humor in your own Theological beliefs. I mean look at what we put on television and call it a 'craft,' then host a show with people who only have one name telling us how great one particular show was and how the actors never gave up their 'integrity,' and then tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor. "Friends" ran on network television for what . . . 60 years?

It's just if you have a point, make it. Don't leave the reader confused as to what you were trying to say.

I find this to be mean spirited writing. Ms. Lamott seems uncertain as to what she is going to say and I am then left with uncertainty as to what she said. Or why. Writing about Christ and his teenage years is something I would expect from George Carlin or Moore. I get the feeling that Ms. Lamott wanted to touch on everything that might pull in a few extra readers. Like a director of a poor script, action, violence, skimpy tops on the female stars, "cool" humor between the African American and Caucasian heroes, more violence, more skimpy tops, fast cars. Let's do a little of everything.

Some points Ms. Lamott makes are genuine. They are unfortunately few and far between. 2 stars. Larry Scantlebury
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59 of 72 people found the following review helpful
on May 16, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I am a longtime Anne Lamott fan from Tiburon California, and a left-leaning democrat of eclectic but genuine faith. So you'd think this would be right up my street. I think of Anne as part of home, but I fear she's lost her mind. I loved Traveling Mercies: it didn't preach, it was funny, it was full of mercy and joy and wonder. Plan B is strident, arrogant, ignorant, and narrow-minded. I can't imagine who would like it. Annie! Quick, call your friends and get your joy of spirit back! And send Sam to a relative until you recover your sense of humor and proportion, for goodness sake!
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