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on May 31, 2014
I have read other books by Kathleen Norris, and am working my way through the rest. Above all else she is a magnificent storyteller. In my opinion, storytelling is a lost (but terribly necessary) art. I find myself lost in her books and, when I stop reading (when I can), I feel like I've been in another place. She has a way of pulling you in and never wanting to leave. In this book she is trying to define spiritual words that people of faith use. She was coming out of a time of being away from the church, and finding that she had trouble accepting these words that she's heard most of her young life. As a Christian who has been away from the church and is now trying to return, I find myself in the same place. A lot of the language of the church leaves me confused. Kathleen takes these words and defines them in a technical sense, but more so applies stories and examples that make them so clear. I recommend anything she's written, especially her book Dakota.
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on July 20, 2014
A rare example of an open minded look at religion and particularly at Christianity based on the writers personal experience, good and bad. Kathleen Norris was brought up in a traditional mid-western family with strong ties to the Methodist and Presbyterian denominations. Like so many of us, she found the church irrelevant to her life and career as a writer, poet and educator.

The book addresses her struggle later in life to find again her faith and commitment to the small town church where her grandmother had attended faithfully for sixty years. Organized around the words that most scared her, she presents the challenges faced by so many who try to find meaning in the code language of those on the inside. I have read many stimulating books on religion but this one stands out for its honesty and value. I would recommend it highly both to Christians seeking to understand better their religion and to those who are not Christian but would like to better know it.
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on January 7, 2007
My aunt recommended this book to me several years ago but I was involved with other things at the time and did not get it. Then Amazon recommended it to me again later and that time I did get it. I read it one essay at a time as a part of my daily devotional. It's a great feeling when an articulate, gifted writer puts into words one's own beliefs as this one did for me.

Page 310: ". . . Here, too, is the justification of the mystic's certainty, as in Shaw's 'St. Joan,' when she responds calmly to an inquisitor's pouncing on the word imagination, as if to spring a trap. 'I hear voices telling me what to do,' Joan says. 'They come from God.' 'They come from your imagination?' her interrogator asks, and she replies, 'Of course. That is how the messages of God come to us.'"

Kathleen Norris's extensive study of the Christian religious history is expressed in this book and benefits the reader.

It is poetic in parts which presents a difficulty for me because although I value poetry and admire poets, as an analyical person, I often don't get it. (She says her husband is both poetic and analytical -- a wonderful gift.) Nevertheless it was a priceless experience.

This is not a book for fundamentalist Christians. It is a book for us spiritual seekers who love God with all our hearts.
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on May 14, 2017
a group from my church (The United Church of Christ) read and had very good discussion about the different chapter found in this book. We received some very good (understandable) information. It is an excellent book especially for people thinking about joining a church.
this is a book for people of all faiths.
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on July 16, 2002
Kathleen Norris has given us all the benefit of her spiritual journey, and I have now given this book to several friends. We're all unique, created "a little lower than angels", and our relationships with God are unique. Not all of us have been born with child-like faith, and this book is profound reading for folks who have struggled along the way. Ms Norris correctly places her emphasis upon the importance of our spiritual vocabulary as a key component of this process. I agree with one reviewer who compared the book to candid conversations with a highly literate, understanding friend. This is not the "warm and fuzzy" language of faith, but the testimony of a woman who has looked long and hard at questions that many of us struggle with in becoming a "woman of fatih", much to her own surprise. Her testimony will speak volumes to many people who grew up in the 1950's and 1960's who need to hear from just such a voice. Buy this book and take the time to absorb what this poet has to say. Highly recommended.
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on June 19, 2017
Kathleen Norris is a gifted writer who conveys through lyrical prose a sense of deep spirituality without being preachy. Inspires me to pursue that deeper faith that can only lead to peace and harmony. I had another copy of this book and accidentally gave it away. Had to get another one!
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on January 10, 2015
It met a need in my life and thought. She has had some of the same religious concerns as I have had, and to find another person who also has had those concerns was a blessing for me. She writes clearly and coherently. When she writes about resolving doubts, she is honest about the process and about the doubts that remain. Where there are issues she has not resolved, she is open and honest about those, too. She is a layperson, but a very well read one. She does not attempt to resolve profound theological issues. She deals will how one lives as a Christian despite doubts he/she might have. I recommend it to anyone who wants to explore Christian life and belief at a deeper level and who is willing to honestly face questions and concerns.
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on March 8, 2012
It took me a long time to finish Kathleen Norris' 'Amazing Grace' because I kept re-reading chapters. Norris spans centuries and reflects on her life in Hawaii, New York, and South Dakota as she gives life to words common to the Christian faith and describes her journey to make them (and Christianity) hers. I highly recommend what has become my favorite book next to my Bible.
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on May 7, 2012
The first book I read by Kathleen Norris was The Cloister Walk. Her writing interested me because of her time spent in monasteries among religious monks, most often Catholic. Amazing Grace was another well written book by this author. She writes from both experience and a wealth of religious and Bibical knowledge. If you haven't read any of her work, give her a try. Your faith will be deepened and you will be inspired by this gifted writer.
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on June 9, 2008
Amazing Grace: A Vocabulary of Faith
This is the best book Kathleen Norris has written in my opinion. In each essay, Ms. Norris dissects a 'scary word' that defines Christian dogma , and through her insight and humor, manages to distill the essence of each word into a highly readable commentary. A favorite read, over and over again. A+ on the Board.
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