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Grace

The quote we're using on the cover of this Sunday's bulletin:
Grace is having a commitment to—or at least an acceptance of—being ineffective and foolish. Our bottled charm is the main roadblock to drinking that clear cool glass of love.

—Anne Lamott, Traveling Mercies

Comments

Ugh. Are you serious?
I am indeed. And while I didn't select it and would never claim that it encompasses a full or foolproof theology of grace, I think there's some truth in it many of us need to hear and accept. So many of us, Christians and not, are stopping short of living lives that know God and enjoy Him forever because of some version of this very roadblock.
It seems to me that any statement that starts off "Grace is...." ought to say what grace is.

This statement does not tell us anything about what grace is. It is man-focused and not God focused. It assumes that grace has its basis in what we are committed to, or what we have an acceptance of. Of course, that is not the case, thank God.
For my part, I don't hold Lamott responsible for being a good theologian when she writes about grace. That doesn't mean I dismiss the truth contained in what she has to say.

On the other hand, it is exactly God's commitment to and acceptance of—and further, redemption of—the ineffective, foolish things of this world (through Christ alone, without exception) that is at the core of the gospel:
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. He is the source of your life in Christ Jesus, whom God made our wisdom and our righteousness and sanctification and redemption.

—1 Corinthians 1:26-30
I think we could do worse than reflecting His attitude in this, so long as we do not claim grace or glory as our own making (I think that's the danger you're highlighting).
Hmmm....I'm sorry, you've hit a hot button for me.

1. One does not need to be a great theologian to talk accurately about grace. Grace is a simple, yet powerful concept, that even a child can understand and articulate. Grace is, as you well know, God's unmerited favor. In Christ, and based upon His sacrifice, He gives us good things that we don't deserve, and withholds bad things that we do deserve. I'm frankly fed up with authors trying to get "cutsie" with fundamental and foundational principles like this and obfuscating them in the process.

2. "On the other hand, it is exactly God's commitment to and acceptance of—and further, redemption of—the ineffective, foolish things of this world (through Christ alone, without exception) that is at the core of the gospel"

a. At least you focused on God here. She is focusing on people--on "our" commitment, "our" acceptance. She is looking into the wrong of the telescope, and even at that, through a glass, darkly.

b. I agree that I Cor.1 teaches that God has chosen the foolish, weak things of this world. That is not what she is saying, however.

c. By grace, and in Him, that which the world viewed as foolish, weak, low and despised has been made wisdom, strength, exalted and glorified. There is no merit in foolishness per se; only in foolishness for Christ.
It's a hot button for me too; I doubt there's cause for either of us to be sorry for that.

I think Lamott in this quote evokes and connects with a core, God-created desire and need (the "us" rather than "God" you read in her quote is not explicit, although I can see why you make the implication). She speaks to a wider audience than the church traditionally has (at least here in the Northwest), and she's not wrong. We need that kind of grace. From whom do we need it? That's where the gospel comes in, the gospel we all (Christian and not) need, and that's why we preach it. I want to be part of a church that addresses that question and connects it to God's answer. I don't think there's a thing wrong with preaching the gospel at the temple of the unknown God rather than ceding the territory to those who would fill it with cutsie platitudes (whether that's Lamott's intent or not is another discussion).

Case in point: just by posting the quote, I've been able to present a bit of the gospel in our conversation, for anyone to read. Funny how that works.
When I read this, my sense wasn't that Annie was extolling foolishness, or saying that we should be complacent.

The sense I got from this quote was understanding that we are, really, a mess. And we can't do it right on our own, we can't beautify how really pathetic we are or cover it up with our efforts. Rather, as I read it, she's saying- you've got to recognize that you can never do it on your own, and that you are loved just as you are- that that's an okay place to start.

Sure, Anne Lammott may not be the person I'd go to for say, an exhaustive history of Reformed Theology. But she does have some really phenomenal Ragamuffin Gospel style things to talk about. The book the quote came from is excellent, if you take it for what it is- a personal history and reflection.

Don't we all see through that glass darkly? No one will ever really get it until we're out of here.

I agree with you in that we can't just let things stay the way they are- once you know who God is, or who you are in Him, of course, you have a responsibility to partner with Him in the redemptive work He's doing. But it's really God who does the big stuff. I think that's what she's saying.

However I am very tired and rambling so I apologize if I'm nonsensical.
I'm not familiar witrh Annie Lammott. So, I'm hopeful that this quote is not representative of her writing generally, because this statement in all its raw glory is nonsense, IMHO.

I think YOU should be quoted in this week's bulletin, as follows:

"we are, really, a mess. And we can't do it right on our own, we can't beautify how really pathetic we are or cover it up with our efforts. " --thinhorizon

Amen to that.
One does not need to be a great theologian to talk accurately about grace. ...No, one simply needs to have experienced it. She has, and powerfully, and I experience the Grace of God as a result.

I can appreciate the desire to protect and defend who God really is, but it seems as you do so, you express more anger and what she *could* be saying than really listening to what she *is* saying.
n
one for the quote collection. :o]
I adore her. this is just one reason why.
I thought you would appreciate this when I first saw it.
Our bottled charm is the main roadblock to drinking that clear cool glass of love.

I don't really understand that part...
Think about it. Are there ways that trying to appear to have it together, etc. gets in the way of experiencing the love of God and others? Maybe that's not true of you; it's definitely true of me.
So the "bottled charm" is supposed to be like a mask that we wear? I all too often have worn a mask. I'm learning through the years to let go of it and be vulnerable. But sometimes I have to put it back on just because I don't want to talk about the troubles anymore. After a while I just get tired of crying...