It's always startling to find a Christian who's pro-choice, anti-Bush, and is as refreshingly neurotic as your crazy Aunt Mae. That's why Anne Lamott is such a breath of fresh air: She's a left-wing hippie who curses liberally and has a non-dogmatic relationship with the spirit she once described as "Jesus the Friendly Ghost." Lamott writes about her spiritual life and its challenges on Salon.com and in her books Traveling Mercies and Plan B. Plus she'll be in Portland this Tuesday to talk all about it.
Hi Anne. Are you still a news junkie?
Certainly not as bad as I was during election year, but I watch a lot of news. I get less riled up with Bush than I used to; the worst was the couple of months after the election. I really felt devastated and kind of stunned. Now I don't know whether there's been some psychological or spiritual healing in me, or if it's that things are going so, so, so badly for Bush right now, but it's much easier for me now than it was.
I imagine that for many of our readers, the hair on the back of their neck goes up at the mention of Christianity—
So does mine.
Do you get the same reaction from people in your own life, when they find out about your beliefs?
Not so much. When people come hear me talk, for instance, they're already part of the choir. They already know that I'm religious, and they've already forgiven me, or they're already interested.
I think that if people associate Christianity with the Bush White House, it has nothing to do with what I understand the message of Jesus is, which is that God is not an American or male. I really worship the same Jesus Christ that Martin Luther King did—this radically compassionate man seeking justice for the poor and the least off. This other stuff isn't Christianity; it's just being spouted by Christians. I would certainly share with your readers the same feeling of revulsion about what's been done in the name of Christianity. I would blame the greatest problems on our earth right now on the behavior of Christians.
Is there a large but silent contingency of people who believe the same things you do?
Absolutely. 50 million people voted for Kerry, and a lot of them are secular, but a lot of them are religious people. I know that there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of church-, synagogue-, and mosque-goers, and people who are unaffiliated who are very spiritual and are very passionate about civil rights and social justice.